October 20: Blame And Shame
2016/10/20 § Leave a comment
On this day in 2005 Wal-Mart opened a store in Teotihuacán, Mexico.
Yes, that Teotihuacán, the two-millennia old city that, at the height of its population, was the largest in the pre-Columbia Americas; an unparalleleld site of archaeological, sacred and historical significance to a long-lost race, dubbed the “place of the gods” by the later Aztecs. With a footprint of over 268,000 square feet and rising over 200 feet tall, the Pyramid of the Sun is the most prominent of the many structures that still stands here.
Plans for the 71,902 square-foot store and its 236-space parking lot were approved by state and federal agencies and had the blessing of the Mexican Institute of Anthropology and History. However, approval was granted absent public hearings, and the resignation and death of two successive representatives of the Institute raise eyebrows about the process itself.
Negotiating the rights and interests of past, present and future residents, local consumers, business owners, politicians, archaeologists, tourists and students of culture is no easy matter. But the construction of a Wal-Mart seems to be one of the worst kinds of development possible so near this site. Granted, other development is visible from the monuments–but Wal-Mart is not just any kind of development. It is an arm of the American-based multi-national dedicated to the death of local businesses and by extension the putrefaction of regional customs of consumerism. It epitomizes everything bad about globalization. While development that improves the quality of life for residents everywhere and anywhere must be balanced against a mothball approach to protecting historic sites, this one is a grotesque whopper of a mistake.
Image: the store under construction; pyramid in the background (from this source)