Mexican authorities say dozens of bodies — many stabbed in the heart — have been recovered from an abandoned mine that became a dumping ground for apparent victims of Mexico’s drug violence. Six more bodies were found in a Cancun cave about 850 miles away.
Guerrero State Attorney General Albertico Guinto announced yesterday that 55 bodies found deep in the shaft of the Concha mine, presumably the victims of drug traffickers.
Taxco de Alarcón (usually referred to as simply “Taxco”) is a small city and municipality located in the Mexican state of Guerrero. The name Taxco is most likely derived from the Nahuatl word tlacheco, which means “place of the ballgame.” However, one interpretation has the name coming from the word tatzco which means “where the father of the water is,” due to the high waterfall near the town center on Atatzin Mountain. “De Alarcón” is in honor of writer Juan Ruiz de Alarcón who was a native of the town. Like many municipalities in central Mexico, the municipality’s coat-of-arms is an Aztec glyph. This glyph is in the shape of a Mesoamerican ballcourt with rings, players and skulls, derived from the most likely source of Taxco’s name.
Taxco is heavily associated with silver, both with the mining of it and other metals and is famous for its jewelry, silverware and other items. The reputation, along with the city’s picturesque homes and surrounding landscapes have made tourism the main economic activity as the only large-scale mining operation here is coming to a close.
The city of Taxco, with over 50,000 people, lies on very rugged terrain. At the center of the town is the Parish of Santa Prisca y San Sebastián, which is surrounded by a sea of Spanish-style, red-tile roofs. The streets are very irregular, ascending and descending quickly. They are also narrow, with most lacking sidewalks. This makes the streets picturesque but dangerous at the same time. Adding to the charm is that most streets are paved with dark stones, adorned with lines, pictures and even murals of white stone. Some of the pictures in the street are from the Zodiac and meant to indicate certain commercial activities in times past. One example of this is the sign of Taurus near the Church of Santa Prisca, which used to indicate the area of butcher shops.
Silverwork and tourism related to Taxco’s status as a silver town is the mainstay of the economy. There is one major mining operation on the outskirts of town, Industrial Minera México S.A., but this enterprise announced in 2007 that it will phase out operations here due to the depletion of reserves and labor problems. Most commercial activity related to silver is the production and sale of silver jewelry, silverware and other goods. Silversmithing was reinvigorated here by American William Spratling, who moved to Taxco in the 1920s, creating silver design workshops and exported items, mostly to the United States. With its fame for silversmithing, tourism became a major economic force for the town. Commerce in silver here is both regional and international. Just under half of the municipality’s population is involved in the tourism trade. Streets in the town are filled with silvershops selling jewelry, silverware and other goods.
The city of Taxco de Alarcón is the seat and the governing authority for 141 other communities, the largest of which are Tlamacazapa, Acamixtla, Acuitlalpan and Taxco el Viejo. The total population of the municipality is 98,854, and the territory measures 347 square kilometers. Less than 3% of the population of the municipality is of pure indigenous ethnicity according to the Census. The two indigenous languages spoken here are Nahuatl and Zapotec. It borders with the municipalities of Tetipac, Iguala, Teloloapan, Buena Vista de Cuellar, Pedro Ascencio Alquisiras and Ixcateopan as well at the state of Puebla.
Most of the municipality’s natural resources lie underground in the form of gold, silver, lead, copper, and zinc deposits. Above ground a number of species of timber trees exist as well as areas for agriculture and livestock. Principle crops grown in the municipality are corn, peanuts, luffa sponges, beans and tomatillos. Livestock consists of pigs, goats, horses and some fowl. Most of the industry here revolves around mining precious metals as well as the manufacture of drywall and masonry materials.
The terrain has an average altitude of 1,752 meters, which ranges from 1,000 meters to 2,300 meters. Seventy five percent of its territory consists of rugged mountains, twenty percent is semi-flat and only five percent is flat. The flatter lands are in the lower elevations. The major rivers here are the Taxco and the Temixco, with a number of arroyos that feed into them during the rainy season. There is a lake that is filled only part of the year and a small dam called San Marcos. The climate ranges from hot and relatively moist in the flatlands to warm and relatively moist in the higher mountainous areas. Average temperatures for the year range between 18°C and 20°C. Most of the municipality is covered in semi-tropical foliage which has a tendency to drop leaves during the dry season from October to May. In the highest elevations, pine and oak forests can be found.