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Corn Maize Is Cultural Heritage

Corn Maize Is Cultural Heritage
Written by Marisol
WAYRA Instituto de Español

“Hail kind maize, bread of America, minimal cathedral of hope…!”

In the cosmogony of Mesoamerican peoples, including the Maya, corn is the union of gods and humans; is the fruit between water and air and is the divine gift cultivated by men, and the smith of culture and identity.

This great treasure that corn has meant for the Hispanic cultures has changed and adapted to our present as a symbol of a sort of resistance of our indigenous culture, which is present in many aspects of our daily lives.

The gastronomic heritage and that of cultural expressions that have grown up alongside the planting, harvesting, and consumption of corn are many and vary; therefore, the Ministry of Culture and Youth declared it Cultural Heritage of Costa Rica.

During the Governing Council held on July 25 in Nicoya, in the framework of the celebration of the 190 years of the Annexation of Nicoya, the President of the Republic, Luis Guillermo Solis, the Minister of Culture and Youth, Elizabeth Fonseca, and the Minister of Agriculture, Luis Felipe Arauz, signed the decree recognizing maize as Costa Rican heritage.

Solis said that “the legacy of our ancestors, who, for years, forged what today is a tradition, motivated the state’s commitment aiming at strengthening these traditions.”

Besides maize’s autochthonous varieties (native and Creole), the Executive Decree includes traditions, agro-cultural practices, uses, knowledge, flavors, and colors associated with the grain.

According to Elizabeth Fonseca, Minister of Culture and Youth, the importance of the declaration is that “with the evident support, we are going to look for more resources for projects, in pursuit of developing and conserving traditions that are based on corn.”

The Ministry of Culture and Youth (MCJ), through the Center for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, has worked in diffusion processes of cultural and culinary practices where corn plays an important role.

An example of this is the traditional food contests, in which the inhabitants of different provinces share recipes that are then compiled into books available to the public for free.

The document states that, according to archaeological evidence, the traces of the presence of maize (originating in Mesoamerica) in Costa Rica date back to 3000 BC in the territory of Guanacaste. It also considers that, especially in Guanacaste, there is a rich and varied cuisine based on the use of corn, and multiple traditions, social practices, knowledge, and cultural expressions associated with the cultivation, harvesting and processing of this grain, which deserve to be preserved in benefit of growing communities and of the heritage and cultural identity of the country in general.

The decree is based on Articles 89 and 140, paragraphs 3 and 18 of the Constitution; 25.1 of the General Law of Public Administration, and Law No. 8916, of December 16, 2010, published in La Gaceta No.32 on February 15, 2011 (Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions). The decree shall enter into force upon its publication in the Official Gazette.

 

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