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Wal-Mart at Mexico Ruins Sparks Protest

"I support the store, it will save me time and money," said Camilo Olivas, a father of four who works for the federal electricity commission in Teotihuacan.

He drives 10 minutes every two weeks to shop at a Wal-Mart store in another town to find low prices.

But a handful of opponents say Wal-Mart will kill local family-owned enterprises and erode a lifestyle dating back centuries, while sucking income from locals.

They have filed a criminal complaint, charging authorities with acting illegally in approving the project. They filed a civil complaint on the same grounds and asked the nation's rights ombudsman to step in.

Amid rising controversy, Mexico's government this month said a small pre-Hispanic altar was found buried at the construction site. Plans call for preserving the small structure under plexiglass in what will be the store's parking lot.

"Mexico is one of the few places in the world where the seeds of culture and religion remain," said Tim Sikyea, or Lonely Eagle, a Dene Indian from the Northwest Territories in Canada who came to Teotihuacan this weekend for an annual ceremony with indigenous peoples from across the continent.

"When you have big business come in you lose touch with that culture."

No one knows for sure who founded the ancient seat of power and then abandoned it around 600 A.D. The Aztecs later came upon it and named it Teotihuacan (The Place Where Men Become Gods).


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