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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: Cautions for Western Visitors

Visitors need to be aware of religious practices and behaviors so as not to offend. Customs, practices, or behaviors on the part of the project staff and other visitors might be considered offensive to people in the research area, including inappropriate attire, excessive consumption of alcohol, conspicuous personal comportment, and uninvited photography or recording of individuals, sacred or otherwise restricted sites, structures, ceremonies, and social events.

In general, given the violent history of Guatemala, which fell to the abyss of genocide in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it is advisable that politics not be discussed except in the most general and innocuous manner. One never can be sure who was on this or that side of the bloodshed, and, as in America and probably everywhere, Guatemalan politics very much is a local matter, and it is personal, in the sense that political activity consists of disputes and grievances between different kinds of power. Disputes mostly draw their life from and are resolved within the immediate community.

This said, one should never underestimate the depth and sophistication of Chocolenses’ cultural memories and sense of history, both of which reach so deep that we from the West can only penetrate them but a little.

Westerners are divided into gringos—Americans—and Europeanos. Western visitors to Chocolá should accept these classifications good-humoredly not only because acceptance almost always serves to break the ice but it also signals that non-Chocolenses understand that they are different, unusual, conspicuous, and odd in many ways.


Guatemalan politics are complex and
best left to the people of Guatemala.

Western visitors can be perceived as conspicuous and unusual to Chocolenses.



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