Info on Chetumal

Chetumal is a city on the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. It is the capital of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. In 2000 it had a population of 238,520 people.
The city is on the western side of Chetumal Bay near the mouth of the Rio Hondo, at 18.50° North, 88.29° West. Chetumal is an important port for the region, and Mexico's main port of trade with Belize.


In Pre-Columbian times a city called Chactemal (sometimes rendered as "Chetumal" in early European sources) was the capital of a Maya state of the same name which controlled roughly the southern quarter of modern Quintana Roo and the north-east portion of Belize. This original Chetumal is now believed to have been on the other side of the Rio Hondo, in modern Belize, not at the site of modern Chetumal.
During the Spanish conquest of Yucatán the Maya state of Chetumal fought off several Spanish expeditions before finally being subjugated in the late 16th century.
The Maya revolt "the Caste War of Yucatán" drove all the Hispanic people from this region in the 1840s for generations; many settled in British Honduras (modern Belize).
The current site of Chetumal was established as a Mexican port town in 1898, originally under the name Payo Obispo. The name was legally changed to Chetumal in 1936.
Two hurricanes in the 1940s leveled the entire town; Chetumal was devastated a third time in 1955 by Hurricane Janet. After this the town was rebuilt with more solid construction, with concrete blocks replacing wood as the usual material.
The population of Chetumal was small (about 5,000 in 1950) until the construction of highways linking it to the rest of Mexico in the 1960s and 1970s; the city then boomed with substantial emigration here from other parts of Mexico.

Contemporary Chetumal

Chetumal is now a modern city with an International Airport, malls and shopping centers, and a beautiful view of the Bahía de Chetumal. Thousands of visitors come to Chetumal attracted by the Casinos located on the Mexico-Belize border.
The city has a Museo de la Cultura Maya, a museum of Maya artifacts, as well as a zoological museum.
Source of Info: Here
More Info.
To know this city is not only to go to the end of Mexico; it means entering into a magical place full of charm that invites visitors to discover and enjoy the unexpected.
Chetumal is an incredibly colorful place; the intense green of the jungle, the turquoise Caribbean Sea and the azure blue sky give it the appearance of a watercolor.
The history of Chetumal is linked to the so-called Guerra de Castas (The Race War) that was fought among the Mayans on the peninsula of Yucatan. These obtained weapons from the old British colony of Belize. In order to prevent the sales of arms from happening, the Federal government built a command post that, at the beginning, consisted of a ship anchored in Chetumal Bay, at the mouth of the Río Hondo, the natural (and now official) border between the two countries.
While the ship was anchored there, the sailors made several incursions into the inhospitable territory that was plagued with large reptiles and snakes. One day in 1898, the Mexican Navy Lieutenant in charge of the area, Othón Pompeyo Blanco, founded the village of Payo Obispo on the last Mexican frontier, a place in the southern confines of a country that still did not have established borders. The first things done were the establishment of a customs shed and the making of an outline of the village.
That hamlet of wooden huts was soon populated with peasants and adventurers, some of which came from Vera Cruz and the center of the country; others came from Lebanon and Belize. Some started stripping away the jungle and created fields for agriculture, while others traded, taking advantage of the situation at the border. That first hamlet grew extremely quickly, and in 1936, it was named Chetumal, in honor of a local Mayan village that had been called Chac-Temal. At the beginning, most of the houses were made of wood from trees in the region, such as mahogany. However, that charming little town was almost totally razed to the ground by Hurricane “Janet” in 1945.
The city was rebuilt, and after it was declared the capital city of the state of Quintana Roo, it experienced a major boom in trade while it was a duty-free zone. It grew rapidly, mainly through the arrival of immigrants from all over Mexico and abroad.
Chetumal Bay is a major factor in the life of this city; the University of Quintana Roo that provides education to the young people of the region was built early in the city’s existence. This modern university is surrounded by great beauty and is the main reason why many people still emigrate to Quintana Roo from other parts of the country, from the United States and Canada and from other Latin American nations. The university is changing the rough border town of Chetumal into a sophisticated city with culture and art that is starting to feed the local spirit, while at the same time it prepares the new generations in whose hands the destiny of the state lies.
You can go from the center of town all the way to Calderitas along the boulevard running along the length of the bay. Calderitas is a small fishing beach that was converted into a place where they sell the most exquisite fish and seafood dishes. As you drive along, you can see the university kayaks in the bay and local inhabitants practicing their favorite sport (walking, jogging, bicycling) or playing with their children. All forms and aspects of life can be seen along this road, where one can still appreciate the old wooden houses not affected by “Janet” as well as the model museum of the village of Payo Obispo. The State Government and Congressional Building is there on the seafront. Every afternoon, the locals stop everything and admire the stunning sunsets that get better and more beautiful daily. At night, one can see the lights of the city of Punta Consejo, in Belize, on the other side of the bay. In the dark, they appear to be speaking a special language in lights.
Activity in the bays starts with the appearance of the first sunrays. Fishermen already in the water cast their nets that stretch like fans across the water, as they attempt to catch their daily bread. There is also a lot of activity on the Río Hondo. Small rustic boats carrying passengers from both sides cross from one side of the bay to the other, thus doing away with the official border. Belizean parents with Mexican children, or the other way around, live on both sides of the bay. Love has also played its part, and couples in which one of the two persons comes from the other side are very common. There is a lot of commerce, and therefore a great camaraderie, on either side of the river.
The main source of income on the Mexican side is sugar cane and chili, and both men and women work in the fields to sow and harvest these crops. All the communities in the area live off agriculture, and their modest but happy and peaceful existence is assured by the exportation of their crops to Mexico City.
An old legend has it that this is where cross breeding first started on the American continent, after a castaway soldier from Andalusia married Zazil Há, a Mayan princess, and that they were the parents of the first Mexicans in history. That is the reason Chetumal is called “the cradle of the mestizos”, and going beyond the historical, poetical, and legendary impact, the phenomenon of ethnic alliances appears to be endless, as there are many people of international origins.
All cities, whether they are young or old, have their charm, their history, and their legends. For visitors, knowing Chetumal is not only to go to the end of Mexico; it means entering a city full of mystery, magic, and charm, like García Márquez’s Macondo, that has only just had one hundred years of solitude.
Source of Info: Here by Agustín Labrador

History in Chetumal

Certificate of Segurity
The City of Chetumal is relatively young. It was founded recently more of a century before were wood houses English style by the British influence of Belize very different from the region. Later the commercial height comes from the city, because it was a free zone and sold imports to good price. Thanks to this wealth become the state seat of the government. Later they look for the way to give another character him, that not outside the already declining commercial one, and takes the place like entrance to the Mayan world. In local history the participation of men is registered who are great retailers who took part in many civil fights in defense of terruño.
The whims of the nature, the distance and the incomunicación can be considered like stumbling blocks that make the development slow of Chetumal, but the will of their inhabitants who take root with deep affection doing his this terruño manages to be surpassing a city glimpsing a flattering future; the dedicated ones to the commerce have determined participation for the blunting of Chetumal; it did not animate them in the that one then ambition of wealth, if they were not inspired by forging a city with future to inherit it to it to his descendants.
In the municipality of Othón P. Blanco the first occupants of the region were the Mayans. One knows that Mayan the itzáes, which they penetrated to the peninsula when decaying the Mayan civilization Classic (320 to 987 d. C.), dominated Bacalar and Chetumal towards year 950. During that time the Confederation of Mayapán existed; after the fall of this one in 1194, period of Mayapán begins the call. The tribe of putunes dominated the region of Bacalar and Chetumal. At the time of the arrival of the Spanish conquerors to the present territory of Quintana Roo, this one was fragmented in chieftainships, Uaymil (whose more important point was Bakhalal) and Chactemal that extended from the present population of Bacalar to New River, in Belize, the caciques of Chactemal dominated to those of Uaymil.
Francisco de Montejo entrusted to Alonso Dávila the conquest of Chactemal. Dávila began the company in 1531 but it was not successful, for 1544 fell Chactemal into the hands of Pacheco, who also was entrusted in 1543, by Montejo for such company. In the colonial period, Bacalar was one of the most important populations of the peninsula. During century XVIII it was fortified to defend it of the privateers who dominated all the Eastern coast of Quintana Roo and it was possible to be defended of the dye wood cutters. In 1847 the War of Chaste exploded in the region, and in 1849 the yucatecos recover Bacalar, but in 1858 it returns to fall in hand of the Mayans. During the rebellion an important commerce of Mayan with Belize with the interchange of precious wood and the dye wood existed with arms, in addition that the distance of the Mexican authorities in this zone allowed to an influence every greater time of English with the risk of an invasion and the loss of national territory.
In January of 1898 admiral Othón P. Blanco arrived at the present Bay of Chetumal, commissioner by the Government of Mexico to assure the border. With such aim, he founds on that same year, a city to which gives the name of Payo Bishop, in honor of Fray Payo Enríquez, bishop of Guatemala that outside later virrey of the New Spain, that at the Colonial time had made a visit by this region. 1915, Payo Bishop, became the capital of the territory. Between 1931 and 1935, the city decayed as a result of the division of the territory with the neighboring organizations, decreed by the federal Government; but when being reconstituted this one, the locality resumes its growth there, settling the powers of the government. In 1936 the name of Payo Bishop is replaced by the one of Chetumal. As of 1947 the Delegation of Payo Bishop, happens to be Othón P. Blanco.
Source of Info: Here
En Espanol
Conocer esta ciudad y sus alrededores es no sólo llegar al final del país, sino adentrarse en un lugar lleno de encanto que invita al viajero a descubrir y disfrutar de lo inesperado.
Chetumal es una bella zona cubierta de brillantes colores: el intenso verde selvático, el turquesa del mar caribeño y el azul de su cielo la hacen parecer como salida de una acuarela.
La historia de Chetumal está unida a la llamada Guerra de Castas, que en el siglo XIX protagonizaron los mayas de la península de Yucatán; éstos obtenían armas desde Belice, que entonces era una colonia británica; para impedirlo, el gobierno federal creó un puesto militar, que en un principio fue un barco estacionado en la bahía de Chetumal, en la desembocadura del río Hondo, frontera natural y ahora oficial entre los dos países. Así, mientras permanecía estacionado el barco, los marinos ahí destacados hicieron varias incursiones en ese inhóspito territorio, plagado de lagartos y víboras. En un día de 1898 el teniente de la armada de México al mando de la zona, Othón Pompeyo Blanco, fundó la aldea de Payo Obispo, que era la última frontera de México, un lugar en los confines sureños de un país que aún no tenía definidos sus límites. Las primeras medidas fueron la creación de un puesto de aduanas y el trazo de la aldea.
Muy pronto aquel caserío de madera frente a la bahía se fue poblando de campesinos y aventureros que procedían, unos de Veracruz y del centro del país, otros de Líbano y de Belice. Algunos comenzaron a quitarle terreno a la selva e iniciaron la agricultura en la zona, mientras que otros se dedicaron al comercio, aprovechando la situación fronteriza. Ese primer caserío creció aceleradamente y en 1936 recibió el nombre de Chetumal en homenaje a una aldea maya de esa zona que se habría llamado Chac-Temal. En un principio la mayor parte de sus casas fueron construidas con maderas nobles del lugar, como la caoba, pero esa hermosa ciudad fue prácticamente arrasada en 1945 por el huracán “Janet”.
Destruida y vuelta a construir, la ciudad fue declarada capital del naciente estado de Quintana Roo, y el comercio conoció etapas de verdadero esplendor mientras fue zona libre de aranceles, con ello creció aún más y siguió recibiendo inmigrantes de todas partes de México y del extranjero.
La bahía de Chetumal impregna toda la vida de esta ciudad; allí se construyó la nueva Universidad de Quintana Roo, que ha abierto el camino del conocimiento a los jóvenes de la región. Moderna y rodeada de gran belleza, la universidad es ahora el motivo principal por el cual continúan llegando inmigrantes desde el interior del país, de Estados Unidos, de Canadá, de Europa y de otras naciones latinoamericanas. La universidad le está cambiando a Chetumal el aspecto rudo de población fronteriza, por el de una ciudad donde la cultura y el arte empiezan a alimentar a los espíritus locales, a la vez que se preparan las nuevas generaciones que serán las responsables de conducir el destino de ese estado.
Por el bulevar, bellamente dibujado a través de la bahía, se va desde el centro a Calderitas, una caleta de pescadores que se transformó en un sitio de exquisitas comidas de pescado y mariscos. Mientras se recorre en coche la avenida se ven en la bahía los kayaks de la universidad y a los chetumaleños haciendo deportes al aire libre (caminando, corriendo, en bicicleta o paseando a sus niños); toda la vida transcurre por este paseo, donde aún se aprecian las pocas casas de madera que dejó el “Janet” y también el museo-maqueta de la aldea de Payo Obispo. Ahí, frente al mar, está el edificio de gobierno y el Congreso del estado. Cada tarde, como si el tiempo se detuviera, los chetumaleños se dan cita para admirar los hermosos atardeceres que cada día son distintos y cada uno mejor que el anterior. En las noches se puede ver, al otro lado de la bahía, el pueblo beliceño de Punta Consejo, que en la oscuridad nocturna parece esgrimir un idioma de luces.
En la bahía la actividad se inicia con los primeros rayos de luz solar, cuando ya los pescadores dentro del agua lanzan con gracia y pericia sus pequeñas redes, las cuales se extienden como abanicos sobre el agua para atrapar el sustento diario.
El río Hondo enmarca con su actividad la vida de Chetumal; por sus aguas, en rústicas embarcaciones, pasan de un lado al otro los habitantes de ambas riberas, y con ello deshacen la llamada frontera oficial; de un lado y del otro viven padres beliceños con hijos mexicanos, o al revés; el amor también ha tenido su participación, y parejas donde uno de los dos es del otro lado son más que comunes. Por las riberas del río existe un intenso comercio y una indisoluble fraternidad.
En la ribera del lado mexicano los cultivos de caña de azúcar y chile son la principal actividad económica, en la que hombres y mujeres trabajan juntos para cosechar. Todas las comunidades del área viven de la agricultura, y los productos que envían a la capital del país les aseguran su existencia, que aunque modesta, transcurre feliz y tranquila.
Una leyenda antigua, que propagan los cronistas y escritores de la zona, dice que en este mismo lugar se produjo el primer mestizaje del continente americano, cuando el náufrago y soldado de origen andaluz Gonzalo Guerrero se casó con la princesa maya Zazil Há y nacieron de ellos los primeros mexicanos de la historia. Por eso se llama a Chetumal la “cuna del mestizaje”, y más allá de su impacto histórico, poético y legendario, el fenómeno de las alianzas étnicas parece no tener fin con tantas parejas de origen internacional.
Toda ciudad, sea joven o antigua, tiene su encanto, sus historias y sus leyendas. Para el viajero, conocer Chetumal significa no sólo llegar al final del país, sino adentrarse en una ciudad llena de misterio, de magia y de encanto, como el Macondo de García Márquez, que apenas ha cumplido sus primeros cien años de soledad.