Jaime Lando Chan Cortreras

Meet the Modern Maya Main

Location: Yotholin
Occupation: Sheriff/Camposino

Sr. Cortreras is the elected Sheriff in Yotholin a small town located close to Ticul. He has been the sheriff for two years and has a five-year term.

Sr. Cortreras is 47 years old, married with five sons and two daughters. He is also a Camposino who works his farm prior to fulfilling his duties as Sheriff. He begins his day at 5:00 in the morning to attend to his farm, by mid morning he is off to work as Sheriff. He leads a team of five deputies who keep the peace in this sleepy hollow.

He decided to run for Sheriff because he felt it was a good way to become popular. When asked where his gun was he said he did not need one, he is friends with everyone in town.

The Sheriff’s office has a jail but it is rarely if ever used for anything other than a holding tank for gentlemen who have had too much to drink. This would appear to be the town’s biggest problem. You see the crime wave in Yotholin consists of the odd theft, public drunkenness and marital disputes. There are no gangs, no crackheads and if you are actually caught stealing in a town like this then your life is pretty well over, no prison needed.

The single most revealing fact about the Yotholin police department is that the police station has no telephone [but Sr. Cortreras carries a cell phone and his officers always know where he is].

Now how can you run an efficient police department with no telephones? And there are no two-way radios either. But they do run an efficient police department and it is absolutely amazing how they do it. You see almost every family in town and the surrounding area have children or at least one adult who is at home at any given moment. If something happens, word goes out, quickly! The children scramble, running to tell their neighbors, their kids scramble and tell their friends, relatives and neighbors. The domino effect happens fast and in no time word reaches the Sheriffs department.

This system of communication speaks volumes regarding the close-knit fabric of their society.

The job as Sheriff does not pay well, 1000 pesos every 15 days. But there are perks such as raising ones standing in the community. Not unlike upwardly mobile people the world over Sr. Cortreras has a vision for himself and his family, they like families the world over wish for the good things in life.

The day we visited the Sheriff he was out of uniform, in fact so were the deputies. We neglected to ask him about this however it is our understanding that police officers have to pay for their own uniforms so most only buy one set and if it is in the wash then they have to wear something else.

Sr. Cortreras enjoys TV but doesn’t find much time to watch it. From 0500 -1000 he works his farm and then he works as the Sheriff from 1000-1400, has a break and goes back from 1800-2200.

We found Sr. Cortreras to be a real nice guy. In fact he is your typical super friendly, happy Mayan guy who just happens to be Sheriff!

Meet the Modern Maya Main