How to Help


Project Philosophy

Ancient Site, Modern Town

19th Century: The Finca


Economic and Cultural Challenges

The Cooperative and
the Town Today

Cautions for Western Visitors

Employment and Other Needs

Tourism and Crafts

Development Goals



Chocolá Community: Cacao, an Ancient Breadbasket

Coffee arrived around 1850, and became, along with sugar cane, the major export cash crop in the region, which comprises one of the great breadbaskets of Central America.

Although, pre-Conquest to post, the owners and beneficiaries changed from indigenous Maya to foreigners, a pattern of great surplus agriculture continued.

Much evidence, including ethnohistory, indicates that the major export crop both before and for a few hundred years after the Conquest was cacao, which PACH hypothesizes constituted the material underpinning for the rise of Maya civilization in the seminal Southern Maya Zone (SMZ).

Alternatives to coffee include a return to a great prehispanic Maya crop, cacao; other opportunities for sustainable development exist in varying scale and robustness and include eco- and archaeotourism, and furniture-making.

Chocolá lies in the heart of the ancient region of Mesoamerica where, as attested by ethnohistory, not only the greatest quantities but the highest quality cacao was produced. Needless to say, marketing of “authentic Maya cacao” offers boundless promise for profits.

The philosophy of the project is that a carefully guided return to this great prehispanic endeavor for niche markets and without middlemen could bring prosperity, greater autonomy, and cultural protections to the Chocolenses. Seeking partners for this effort, the project has initiated discussions with chocolate companies in the United States and Europe.


The Cacao trees in and around Chocolá have
ancient historical and cultural roots.

Some Chocolenses still gather and
process cacao in the old traditional ways.



© 2006 Proyecto Arqueológico Chocolá • Privacy Policy