Site, Modern Town
19th Century: The Finca
and Cultural Challenges
the Town Today
Cautions for Western Visitors
Employment and Other Needs
Tourism and Crafts
Community: The 19th-Century Finca
The Finca Chocolá was created in the early years of the 19th
century when the Catholic Church in Guatemala sold land on which
Maya had been living for thousands of years to individual wealthy
European investors and local landowners, the first of whom was Jose
Guardiola, a Guatemalan agricultural engineer and inventor.
Church sold 55 caballerias of land (1 caballeria = ca. 105 acres),
or approximately 81 square miles to various small local landowners,
all of which was subsequently bought by Guardiola. Guardiola grew
sugar cane and coffee; a giant roaster or secadora may still be
seen in the beneficio de café, or coffee processing building,
town itself was created at the same time by K'iche' Maya who migrated
from Totonicapán north of Lake Atitlán to Chocolá
to work as laborers on the great finca. Before this, there were
few people in the immediate area, although, in prehispanic times,
a great breadbasket extended all around in the Guatemalan piedmont
and west into Soconusco, Mexico.
sold the land to a consortium of German businessmen in 1891. The
Germans greatly expanded the size of the farm—at its height
more than approximately 361 square miles—and constructed many
fine high Victorian buildings to house the farm managers and their
families. Vestiges of the luxury in which they lived, before they
were deported during World War II, include swimming pools, gardens,
and private railways.
of the Finca's historic Victorian-style
buildings are in restorable condition.
The Beneficio portion of the Finca houses a
workshop and coffee processing equipment
still in use by the Cooperative today.