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Ancient Site, Modern Town

19th Century: The Finca


Economic and Cultural Challenges

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the Town Today

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Chocolá: Economic and Cultural Challenges

In the heart of the SMZ sits Chocolá. Post-Conquest and today, historical economic patterns of coercion and repression have not provided many benefits to the indigenous Maya owners and cultivators of the land at Chocolá and throughout Guatemala. The profiteers have been wealthy Guatemalan and European families and businesses who have exploited not only the agricultural wealth of Guatemala but the people, themselves, forcibly maintaining very cheap labor conditions with Liberal post-colonial legislation and military intervention.

In Chocolá, the repression and marginalization manifests in an average income of $1,000 per plot-owner per year, and scarcity of medical and dental care, undrinkable water in a region with a superabundance of rain, natural springs, and rivers, and no waste management. The Quiché farmers and their families live mostly in cobbled-together wood shacks. The women, old men, and children spend much of their days scavenging for sticks for firewood to heat their homes and cook their food. What led to this state of affairs?

The answer is the destructive sequence of events and the associated processes of conquest, colonialism, post-colonialism, and, now globalism—all of which have material underpinnings related, first, to the expansion of European economic aggrandizement, to the enslavement and forced labor exploitation of colonialism, to the Liberalist ideology of post-colonialism and which justified and masked still greater exploitations, and, now, to the global controls of entire nations’ lives and destinies in the hands of opportunistic great capital.

These industrial and post-industrial manipulations—a far cry from the much-vaunted “free market” enterprise and individual incentive-capitalism of current American government ideologues and which completely ignores the very unequal playing field of opportunity around the planet—culminated most dramatically in the genocide of mainly Maya poor in Guatemala in the 1970s and 1980s.

Chocolá was not excluded from any of these events and processes; indeed, it records through its remarkable history all of these terrible conflicts, deprivations and desolations.

Living conditions in Chocolá attest to decades of civil, cultural and economic repression.

Poor sanitation and poverty are complicated
by a lack of access to medical care.


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