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The caste war

            The Caste War, which began in the dry limestone flats of the Yucatan Peninsula in 1847, was one of the most successful indigenous uprisings in the history of the Americas and led to the existence of an independent Maya state that remained autonomous for over 50 years. Yet, the Caste War was also a war of factions, Maya against Mexican, Maya against British, Mexican against British, and Maya against Maya. Inhabited by the Maya for well over three thousand years, the Yucatan had become a political and economic focus for the Spanish colonial powers centered in Merida. By the early 1800's, traditional Maya extended-family networks were breaking down as village political identities and local economic interests increasingly guided the administrative organization of the Maya villages and towns spread across the Yucatan Peninsula. By 1821, Mexico had gained independence from Spain though the Yucatan remained only loosely tied to the federal government. Inhabited by approximately 425,000 Maya spread across approximately 75 parish districts, the peninsula was governed by the principle economic unit of the hacienda, a private, landed estate. .
             Priests of Spanish descent controlled the parish and village level activities of the church, enjoying substantial privileges over the peasants. Within each parish there existed a Maya religious hierarchy in which prominent local Maya assisted and were supported by the church. These Maya often assisted in the collection of required church taxes. Within the village, the Maya maintained their own head chief or batab, usually a literate, wealthy, land owning Maya who wielded considerable judicial and regulatory power. Closely tied to the local colonial hierarchy, the batab, who would collect taxes on behalf of the local authorities, often felt stronger allegiance to the Yucatecans than to the Maya of his village. .
             At the same time, Yucatecan colonial political stability was faltering.

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