Christopher Vourlias from ForbesTraveler.com
The haciendas were part of an ambitious land-grant scheme by the Spanish crown begun in the 16th century, as a way to reward conquistadors, Spanish nobles, and others for their loyalty to the king. Most were operated like small city-states, run by a powerful hacendado—a man whose economic and political clout could often be felt as far away as Mexico City. The haciendas were self-sufficient communities; they boasted churches and general stores, hospitals and schools. As many as 1,000 people might have lived on a single estate:
With the movement toward synthetic fibers after World War I, though, the henequen market collapsed. Revolution shook Mexico in 1910, and angry protests against the feudal hacienda system hastened its demise.
Across the country, the once thriving haciendas were ransacked and razed; others were abandoned and left to decay. Most would remain untouched for decades.