It’s been about a week since December 21, the day that the world was supposed to end. That was according to a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar. The hysteria led some people to spend thousands of dollars on bomb shelters and led others to visit Maya sites. NPR has a pretty good piece on what’s left for those in Mexico and Central America now that the tourists are gone: stubbornly high rates of poverty and ongoing dependence on migration. Here’s more:
There are about 5 million Maya living in Mexico and Central America. Migration to the U.S. only began in the 1970s.
University of California, San Diego professor Wayne Cornelius, who studies the Maya of Tunkas, says many came after a devastating hurricane hit the region.
“On balance most people who have migrated from this town have benefited,” Cornelius says. “They have clearly raised their standard of living. They have diversified their sources of income, but the migrants have acquired some major health problems.”
Cornelius says those living in the U.S. are twice as likely to be obese and suffer from hypertension. For the relatives left behind, depression is a major health problem. The No. 1 prescription in Tunkas is for anti-depressants.
This is a fascinating case, Cornelius says. “We have an ancient civilization being slammed up against 20th century America.”