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Presione para ir a la versión en español Roberto Velazquez Cabrera, Mexicolore contributor

Appeal to the Mexican President

This open letter was written by Roberto Velázquez Cabrera, a mechanical engineer by profession who has made a life-long study - including the physical reconstruction - of ancient Mexican resonators and other wind instruments. He is the founder of the Mexico City-based Instituto Virtual de Investigación Tlapitzcalzin. We share 100% his concern over Mexico’s failure to preserve and promote its pre-Columbian musical heritage.

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To: Felipe Calderón Hinojosa
Constitutional President of the United Mexican States
Mexico City, August 12, 2011

Dear Mr. President,
In 2001, during the public consultation to formulate the National Development Plan, I proposed to the then President Vicente Fox Quesada and to the Senate “a policy to develop effective programmes to research, rescue and promote Mexico’s rich culture and technology” (link below).

Unfortunately, after a decade of researching this subject, the proposal/request remains valid: indeed the need for its implementation is now more urgent than ever.

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A fully documented concrete example is the rich, unique, ancient but now almost non-existent economic and cultural branch of the construction and performance of Mexican musical and sound instruments. As an artistic endeavour it was destroyed, forbidden, banned, despised, replaced, forgotten or shelved during the last five centuries as a result of invasion, colonization, evangelization, inquisition, looting, dependency, globalization, racism, ethnocentrism, malinchismo, modernism, bureaucracy, corruption, laziness and ignorance, in spite of Independence, the Revolution and the introduction of laws to investigate, disseminate and promote pre-Hispanic and indigenous cultures and to promote and develop national values. Although there are thousands of rescued archaeological aerophones or resonators in warehouses and museums cabinets, collections and research archives, and hundreds of thousands still to be identified, unfortunately they have not even been studied in depth, nor made known to the interested public, despite many of them being unique worldwide.

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There are still hundreds of musical and sound instruments being played today in rural areas that have not been thoroughly studied. Some of them belong to very poor people, and are as a result disappearing despite being real sonorous treasures, but nobody does anything about it.

Since 1521, not a single Mexican institution created to rescue, research, disseminate, promote, encourage or re-use our valuable heritage, both tangible and intangible, within the sectors of culture, science and technology, education, industry, economy, communications and social development, has included effective action and programmes, or has shown interest in financially supporting in-depth research.

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The list of nearly 90 pages on my website of open-access studies includes dozens of cases of relevant resonators which were not well known - some of them very important - and which had not even been identified by specialists, despite being reported in specialized publications and forums, even international ones (see list on my website, below).

By way of an example of a unique archaeological sound artefact, you can read (link below) the story (in Spanish) of a beautiful flute, with extraordinary sonorous and physical characteristics, that is officially registered as part of the nation’s patrimony; since 2009 I have been studying this instrument with my limited resources, but have so far failed to see it authenticated in a laboratory. I have included in the study an Appendix which documents the paperwork and administrative difficulties in continuing to analyze thoroughly this flute as well as other rescued resonators.

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For examples of ‘missing’ Mexican ethnological musical instruments follow the links below to study the cases (in Spanish) of a Nakub (teponaztli) and Tének flute from the Huasteca Potosina region.

Yours sincerely,

Roberto Velázquez Cabrera, M.Sc.

Photos by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore

Outline list of instrument studies on Roberto Velazquez’ website

Study of a precious Mexica flute by Roberto Velazquez (in Spanish)

Nakub (teponaztli) y flauta tének (in Spanish)

Original proposal (2001) sent to President Vicente Fox Quesada

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