Site, Modern Town
19th Century: The Finca
and Cultural Challenges
the Town Today
Cautions for Western Visitors
Employment and Other Needs
Tourism and Crafts
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?
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.
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.
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.