The remoteness of the region and the combativeness of the Mayans meant that the Spaniards never achieved their total submission and therefore failed to establish permanent populations. They tried to found several cities, the best known being Villa Real de Chetumal, a town that was located on the shores of Chetumal Bay and on the archaeological zone of Oxtankah (Possible capital of Chactemal). However, the Mayan presence made it difficult for the town to grow, so it was abandoned. Currently, as a sign of colonial history, a church is in ruins in the archaeological zone. The only stable population was the city of Bacalar, founded next to the lagoon of the same name. The city was protected by the Fort of San Felipe, with which it was able to resist the attacks of the Mayans and the English pirates who used the region as a hiding place, giving rise to the British Honduras colony. Bacalar managed to remain inhabited until 1848, when the Mayan rebels attacked it when the Caste War broke out and killed many white and mestizo inhabitants, the survivors fled to Corozal, British Honduras, where they remained refugees. From then until 1898, the region was occupied solely by the Mayans.
Chetumal Bay is a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea in the south of the Yucatan peninsula, between Mexico and Belize. It is located between the coordinates 18 ° 33 ‘N and 88 ° 08’ W and politically it is divided between Mexico and Belize, whose border runs through the middle of its waters, it has a very shallow depth so it does not have high draft ports and in it there is a single island, Tamalcab. It is separated from the Caribbean Sea by a large continental projection of the peninsula in Mexico and by Ambergris Caye in Belize. The Hondo River flows into the Bay of Chetumal, which marks the border between Mexico and Belize and is one of the few surface currents on the Yucatan Peninsula. At the point of the river’s mouth in the bay is the city of Chetumal, which gives its name to the bay and is the most important city in the region and capital of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Chetumal Bay is considered a sanctuary for the manatee, an endangered aquatic mammal that is considered a symbol of this region. It is communicated with the Caribbean Sea in Mexican territory through the Zaragoza channel in the town of Xcalak.
The origins of Chetumal date back to the time of the Mayan culture (320-946 AD), when the Itza people occupied this jungle territory. The region where the city of Chetumal currently sits, immediately before the arrival of the Spanish, was a Mayan chiefdom called Chactemal (the name from which the current city comes from), which controlled what is now southern Quintana Roo and the north. of Belize, its political head has not been fixed with precision. After the fall of the Mayapán Confederation, this territory was dominated by the Putuns, who consolidated the Bacalar and Chetumal region (or Chactemal as it was known at that time), as an important agricultural area. The last cacique that Chactemal ruled was Nachán Can, to whom two survivors of a Spanish shipwreck were given as slaves: Gonzalo Guerrero and Jerónimo de Aguilar. Gonzalo Guerrero, unlike Aguilar, fully assimilated to the new society in which he lived, learned the Mayan language and soon taught the warriors of Nachán Can war tactics in which he combined the Mayan tactics themselves with the Spanish ones. Because of his knowledge of the Spanish way of war, he was very useful to fight them successfully, gaining the appreciation and admiration of Nachán Can who made him head of his armies and even gave him in marriage to one of his daughters, Zazil. He has. Gonzalo Guerrero and Zazil Há had several children, who are known as the first mestizos. For this reason Chetumal is called, “The cradle of miscegenation”.