PIONEE'R FABIj1E2S T,
A STU_'Y OF IE-Vi,02',
This work began with a field stay in Guatemala under the
auspices of the New York Metropolitan Regional Summer Field Training
*' .Program in Latin America in 1967. Additional field work was made
possible in the summer and fall of 1969 by a Herbert H. Lehman Fellow-
ship in the Social Sciences and Public and International Affairs. I
should .like to acknowledge the financial support of both these programs.
The study in an earlier form was accepted as my doctoral
dissertation at Columbia University. I am indebted to my thesis
adviser Dr. Kempton E. Webb, now chairman of the Geography Department
of Columbia, for his immeasurable assistance in the development of the
topic. Professor William A. Hance, chairman of the department through'
1973, carefully read the dissertation manuscript and offered countless
suggestions for improvement. The entire dissertation defense committee,
including Professors Lambros Comitas, Karen Spalding, and Leonard
Zobler of Columbia, were most helpful. Present and former members of
the Geography Department of Columbia who gave assistance at earlier
stages of writing are Professors Midcael Grenberg, Ian Manners, and
In Guatemala my field stays were made productive by a great
many people. Among the agencies to which I owe a special debt of
thanks areas the Instituto Gcografico Nacionall the Instituto Nacional
de Transformacion Agraria; the Institute Interamericano de Ciencias
Agrrcolas; the Ministerio de Agricultural the Servicio Cooperativo
Interamericano de Credito Agricola Supervisado; the Peace Corps of
Guatemalal and the Agency for International Development. There are a
number of people, now or formerly members of these agencies,:whom I
should like to thank personally Ing. Manuel Castillo B., Dr. Roy
Clifford, Dr. Fausto Calzecchi Onesti, Ing. Leopoldo Sandoval, Dr.
Francis Gall, Roy and Charlotte Ekland, J. Francisco Rodrfguez 0.,
Dr. Gene Martin, and Dr. Peter Wright. To the countless other people
in Guatemala who aided me at one time or another in this project but
who have gone unmentioned I wish to express my sincere thanks. My
gratitude to the 203 families who responded to my questionnaires is
There are countless other people--loved ones, friends, and
mentors--who have at one time or another contributed their advice and
support to this project. Among these are Dr. Lloyd Rosenberg of Baruch
College of the City University of New York, who has offered invaluable
statistical advice and Mr. Miklos Pinther of the American Geographical
Society, who has advised me regarding the maps. Carole Snee of the
*Department of Sociology of Columbia, and many other fellow graduate
students, have liberated my thinking and spurred me on. To Newton
Rose, my companion in the Geography Department since 1966 and my husband
since 1970, I owe a debt beyond measure.
Finally, responsibility for any errors of fact or interpretation
in the pages which follow is my own.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION . . . . 1
The Pacific Lowlands
The Plan of the Study -
II. THE PARCELAMIENTOSs BACKGROUND OF THE PROGRAM . .
The Indian West
The "Oriente" or Eastern Region
The Northern Lowlands
The Pacific Lowlands
The Parcelamientos of the Pacific Lowlands-
III. THE COLONISTS: BACKGROUNDS AND DEMOGRAPHIC
CHARACTERISTICS . . . 22
A Classification System
The Colonies as Socio-economic Melting Pots
Residential Stability of the Colonists
An Overview of the Parcela Demography
IV. THE COLONIESs SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS . . 49
Farm Size and Land Use
The Main Sources of-Farm Income
Problems Recognized by the Colonists
Monetary Farm Income
V. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS . 98
I. THE QUESTIONNAIRE FORM . ... 102
II. MUNICIPAL BIRTHPLACES OF 203 HEADS OF FAMILIES ,,. 106
III. THE CHI-SQUARE TESTS OF ASSOCIATION . . . 112
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY .......... . ... 123'
GLOSSARY. .. . .. .. 130
LIST OF TABLES
1. Number, Total Area, and Average Size of Land Holdings,
by Region and Department, for Guatemala, 1950 . 11
2. The 15 Parcelamientoss Location, Total Area, Population,,
Number of Farms in the Sampled Universe, and Size of the '
Interview Sample. .. . 18
3.- Regional and Ethnic Origins of 203 Heads of Families
Settled in 4 Groups of Colonies . . 27
4. Number Employed in Various Types of Work (1) At the Place
of First Employment and (2) Just before Colonization, for
203 Heads of Families by Ethnic-regional Background . 30
5. 203 Heads of Families: Percentage Who Engaged in. Various
Types of Work, by Ethnic-regional Background . . 31
6. Percentage of Heads of Households in Each of 5 Age Groups
by Colony of Residence . . . o . 34
7. Literacy Rates for 203 heads of Households in 4 Groups of
Colonies . . . . . 35
8. Percentage of Farm-operators in 4 Groups of Colonies Who
Are Care-takers or Renters, according to the 5-per-cent
Sample . . . . . . 36
9. Residential Stability for 203 Heads of Households in 4
Groups of Colonies . . . . 38
10. Additional Residential Characteristics for 203 Heads of
Households in 4 Groups of Colonies . . . 40
11. Number of Households in Each of 4 Kinship Classifications,
by Colony of Residence . . . . 43
12. Number of Households in Each of 3 Size Classifications,
by Colony of Residence . . . . 44
13. Number of "Other" Fatr.::l. i sidiiLr c.. 203 2arceln2 in 4
Groups of Colonies, u :.'1h Total of Land Rented from tho
203 ParcClas . . . . . 6
14. Number of Jornaleron ITired in Peak labor Periods on 203
Parcelas in 4 Group:; of Colonies . . . 7
15. 203 Parcclas: Amount of Land per Farm Devoted to Annutl
Crops and Plantain . . . .
16. Extent of Land Planted to Various Crops, for the Eastern
vs. the Western Colonies (in Manzanas) . 52.
17. Number of Households Owning 10 or More Heads of Cattle, by
Parcelamiento . . 53
18. Main Source of Income on 203 Parcelas in 4 Groups of
Parcelamientos . . . . 55
19. Material in the Floors of Dwellings for the Republic of
Guatemala, by Region . .
20. Material in the Roofs of Dwellings for the Republic of
Guatemala, by Region . . . . 5
21. Housing Conditions for 203 Families in 15 Parcelamientos S0
22. Frequency of Consumption of Certain Protein Foods by 203
Households in 15 Parcelamientos . . ..
23. Goods Available in the La Maquina and Nueva Concepcidn
Markets, 1969, with Prices Compared to the Prices in
the Terminal Market, Guatemala City .. (.
24. Rates of Literacy in-the Republic of Guatemala, by %, for
Urban and Rural, Non-Indian and Indian, Male and Female
Populations, Ages 7 and Over . . .
'25. Rates of Literacy and School Attendance among 203 Househcli:
in 4 Groups of Parcelamientos, by Age Group .
26, 76 Households: Reasons for Non-attendance at School by
1 or More Children . . . 72
27. Main Problems Recognized by the Colonists in 4 Groups of
Colonies .. . . . .. 35
28. Annual Monetary Income for 203 Households in 15 Parcela-
mientos . . .
29. Income Transitions for 203 Heads of Households, from
(1) Place of Residence just before Colonization to (2) the
Parcela in 1969 . . . .94
30. Municipal Birthplaces for 51 Ladino Heads of Families of
South-coast Origin, with 1950 Population, 1950 Average
Farm Size, and Approximate Elevation of the Municipios 106
31. Municipal Birthplaces for 21 Heads of Families of South-'
coast Indian 0/rigin, with 1950 Population, 1950 Averagd
Farm Size, and Approximate Elevation of the Municipios 107
32. Municipal.Birthplaces for 35 Ladino Heads of Families of
Western Highland Origin, with 1950 Population, 1950 Average
Farm Size, and Approximate Elevation of the Municipios, 103
33. Municipal Birthplaces for 15 Heads of Families of Western
Highland Indian Origin, with 1950 Population, 1950 Average
Farm Size, and Approximate Elevation of the Municipios 109
34. Municipal Birthplaces for 50 Ladino Heads of Families of
Eastern Highland Origin, with 1950'Population, 1950 Average
Farm Size, and Approximate Elevation of the Municipios .. 110
35. Municipal Birthplaces for 31 Ladino Heads of Families of
Eastern Lowland Origin, with 1950 Population, 1950 Average
Farm Size, and Approximate Elevation of the Municipios 11i
36. Results of the Chi-square Tests of Association between High
1969 Income and Other Measures of Living Standard . 114
37. Results of the Chi-square Tests of Association between High
1969 Income and 40 Other Variables . . .. 116
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Regions & Departments of Guatemala. . 10
Location of the 15 Parcelamientos with Respect to Towns &
Transport Routes .. . 19
Nueva Concepcion . . . . ... 20
Municipal Birthplaces of 101 Eastern Lowland Colonists 24
Municipal Birthplaces of 102 Western Lowland Colonists . 25
1. A "permanent" dwelling, with rancho-kitchen in the
background . . . . . . 59
2. Two large earthen-floored ranchos serving as the main
living quarters . . . . . 59
3. A shaded permanent dwelling, with companion ranchos . 59
4. A corn field after the dobla in parcelamiento Monterrey 78
5, Upland or dry rice growing in Monterrey .. ........ 78
6, An inundated field, with cattle grazing in the background 78
7. A secondary access road in La Maquina passable only by
horseback or on foot . . 86
8. Mire on the main access road to La Maquina. ........ 86
9. Cargo trucks impeded by the mire. . .... 86
10. Market-goers returning t6 La Maquina from the town of
Mazatenango .. . . c c e 101
11. Demonstration parcel run by a Peace Corps couple . 101
12. Coastal scene at Tulate . .. 101
This study is an inquiry into the living standard of
approximately 4,000 pioneer families who reside in 15 agricultural
colonies (pnrcela.miontos) j.n the Pacific lowlands of Cuatemala.
Specifically, what are the backgrounds of the families? How does
their present living standard, including housing, literacy, and
diets, compare with the living standard elsewhere in rural Guatemala?
Have the farmers in the parcelamientos adopted commercial-farming
ways, or do the subsistence patterns so common elsewhere in Guatemala
A brief review of two findings can be given. Namely,
(I) the living standard in the colonies as measured by such indices
as house-construction materials and literacy rates is higher than in
rural Guatemala as a whole; furthermore, 40 per cent of the families
in the interview sample for this study had been upwardly mobile in
income since settling in a colony. (2) However,-fully 44.8 per cent
of the families in the interview sample remained in a subsistenco-
income category in 1969, over a decade after most of the colonies had
In the sections immediately following, a brief review is
given of the setting of the parcelamicntos; subsequently the political
roots and plan of the colonies are presented. In addition, this
chapter presents the study's methodology and organizational plan.
The Pacific Lowlands
Of Guatemala's two main lowland regions, the Pacific lowlands
(la Costa Sur, the south coast) are by far the most densely populated
today.1 Like the Yucatan and Gulf-coast lowlands of Middle America,
the Pacific coastal plain and piedmont contain dramatic evidence of
pre-Columbian settlement. One can see mounds (the bases of temples and
houses) and sculpture dating from the pre-Classic.Maya era. The
Pacific region may have been the site of the earliest development of
Maya hieroglyphic writing.
The outer coastal plain of this region has particular signifi-
cance in this study it is the site of most of the parcelamientos to
be studied herein.2 For several centuries 'after the Conquest of Guate-
mala, the coastal plain was avoided as a place of Spanish settlement
due to tropical diseases and remoteness. It was, however, a site of
primitive cattle haciendas run mainly for tallow and hides. By the
seventeenth century a numerous Mulatto population was living in this
part of the Pacific lowlands. Blacks were brought to the lowlands as
slaveswhen the Indian population was decimated by diseases exacerbated
by labor exploitation.
Late in the nineteenth century the verdent, dissected Pacific
slope between the coastal plain and highlands became coffee country.
The Indian population again became large as coffee-plantation workers
IThe northern lowlands are far more extensive than the Pacific
lowlands, comprising about one-half of the national territory.
Parcelamientos are located in both main lowland regions of
Guatemala; however, this study is confined to those in the Pacific
lowlands, which generally were founded earlier'and have received more
were recruited from the highlands. Today the population of the eastern
Pacific lowlands is mainly "Ldino" or mixrd-blooded Spanish American.
liumeroun Indians, of several linguistic groups, live in the western
part of the lowlands. Blacks and Mulattoes have disappeared as distinct
groups, having inter-marricd with the much larger local India. and
Spanish American population.
Thero is very little precedent in Guatemala for the -ety-lo of
the parcclanientos. However, colonization itself was carried out even
during the .pre-Conquest period. The Cakchiquel, Quich6, and Zutuhil
(all highland groups) had lowland colonies from which they derived
supplementary maizeo and cotton, cacao, and certain fruits. There were
also coastal settlements whcre salt Twas ovaorated fro seca water
The lowland territories wore apparently the object of warfare among
these and other pre-Columbian groups.
Beginning with the Barrios administration (1873-1885) the
Pacific region acquired sore transportation infrastructure including a
railroad and port facilities. These wore mainly in response to develop-
Sments in the coffee oconcmy. The first genuine impetus to agrarian
reform in favor of the peasantry did not come until the adm"inistration
of Juan Jose Arevalo (194'5-1951). His initiative in attempting to
break up the large, under-productive estates or latifundios, (which
dominated in the lowlands and certain parts of the highlands) wras
followed, in 1952 under the administration of Jacobo Arbens, by the l w
of Agrarian Reform. By 1954 oxten-ivo expropriation of "idle lands"
(tierras ociosas) had been carried out, with much of the land redistri-
buted to near-landless peasants.
To the chagrin of many Guatemalans and foreign observers, the
Arbenz reforms were at least partially reversed by a counter-revolution
in 1954. The counter-revolutionary government headed by Carlos
Castillo Armas (1954-1957) met the dramatized need for agrarian reform
by instituting a program of "agrarian transformation."
The Castillo Armas program was first known as the Rural-
Development Program and was funded heavily by the United States
government. Since 1955 over 5,000 families have been settled on
commercial-sized farms (averaging nearly 50 acres) in parcelamientos of
the northern and Pacific lowlands. In addition, 18,000 families have
been settled on subsistence-sized farms (generally 5 to 10 acres) in
"agrarian communities" and "microparcelanientos." The parcelamientos
have been isolated for the present study. It is doubtful that a real
improvement in living standard could occur for the families who obtain
the subsistence-sized farms.
The parcelamientos of the Pacific lowlands range in size from
Santa Elena with only 30 farms to Nueva Concepci6n with over 1,200
farms. Government services of education, road building, agricultural
extension, medical clinics, and credit services have been an integral
part of the program. Since 1962 the parcelamientos and other types of
land-redistribution colonies have been supervised by the National
Institute for Agrarian Transformation (I.N.T.A.).
The author carried out field work in Guatemala in 1967 and 19691
a brief visit in 1971 enabled her to update certain data. The methodol-
ogy employed in the main (1969) field work was the interview survey.
The procedure was, first, to assign a consecutive number to'every elig-
ible farm (parcela) in a given colony (parcclamiento). This was made
possible by use of a card file of titled parcel owners made accessible
to the author in the program's central administrative officetrin Guate-
mala City, By use of a table of random numbers a 5-per-cent sample of
parcelas was drawn. The parcela identification number and the name of
the owner were recorded. Maps (already prepared by the central offices)
were used to locate the parcelas once the author arrived in a colony.
The sample was "stratified" by colony (that is, 5-por-cont samples wcro
drawn separately for each colony) because one important objective was
to compare the colonies by certain criteria such as settlers' back-
grounds, local farming technology, principal crops, social-service
Two stipulations ifere decided upon in defining the universe of
farms from which the sample would be drawn: (1) the parcela should be
larger than 25 acres; and (2) its operator should be titled, as
recorded in the administrative offices.3 Based on the two criteria,
3Both stipulations are related to the farm family's chances of
attaining commercial-farmer status it was assumed that a smaller farm
or an illegal tenurial status would reduce these chances,
In fact, two entire parcelamientos of the Pacific lowlands,
with 279 parcels, were eliminated from the sampled universe because
their parcels were smller than 25 acres. Some parcels in every
colony were eliminated, because they served as land for urban centers,
schools, cemetaries, and the like, or because they were abandoned
according to official records.
there were 3,979 eligible pircelas, located in 15 rarcelamientos. The
final sample consists of 203 parcelas,
Interviews were held with the 203 parcel families ii the
sample from early August to early December, 1969. This time period
includes the main harvest season. The basis of each interview was a
questionnaire which took approximately one hour to administer. (This
varied with the complexity of the demographic, migratory-background,
and agricultural picture encountered at each farm.) An English trans-
There are two important ways in which the sample departs from
the stated ideals
(1) Of the 203 farms where interviews were held, 16 (7.9 per
cent) did not belong to the sample as it was first drawn. It.was
anticipated that some farms would be inaccessible because of inundated
access roads, that some farmcra would be away for an extended time to
visit their home communities, the capital, etc. Therefore a number of
supplementary farms were always drawn in the original sampling.
The substitution of 16 parcelas does not appear to have reduced
the representativeness of the findings significantly. A series of
tabulations for the 16 replacements reveals the sane trends as found in
the 187-member group belonging to the original sample. Nevertheless,
it is true that the supplementary sample contains some more accessible
farms than were omitted from the original sample. To this unmeasurable
extent the 203-member sample may be distorted in favor of the better-
(2) As will be noted later in the discussion, the sample
Includes 23 farms operated by someone other than the titled owner. It
was possible to eliminate abandoned farms from the sampled universe
however, .cases of absentee ownership were not recorded in the adninis-
trative files. The 23 non-titled families were interviewed as the de
facto residents of the parcelal however, it is true that often they did
not control land use on a farm.
Of the 23 families, 15 wore care-takers (gardianes) for an
absentee owner. In another 7 cases, a relative of the owner operated
the farm, functioning essentially as a guardian. In the last case, a
renter operated a large share of the parcel, being recognized by the
administration as the person in charge of the farm.
In fact, as is acknowledged by the administration, absentee
ownership occurs to some extent in every colony. It is not as wide-
spread as some critics of the program have maintained, by fully 10.8
per cent of the parcelas in the sample were. absentee-owned.
lation of the questionnaire can be found in Appendix I.
The two foci of the information sought were: (1) migratory-
and economic-background data for the head of family, and (2) data on
the present living standard of the family as a whole. Within the first
category fell such information as place of birth, subsequent-places of
residence, types of employment, past incomes and literacy of the head
of family, as well as his or her ability to speak an Indian language.
Within the second category fell information on the housetype,, diet,
sanitary facilities, literacy, children's school attendance, farming
practices and equipment, debts and expenditures, and annual monetary
income of the family.
Assets and limitations
of the methodology
Misreporting and omissions are known to be common in data from
peasant areas. In cases of suspect data, the author has attempted to
derive only the conclusions which the probable accuracy of the data
will permit. In the case of income, she has used class intervals to
compensate for possible misreporting--especially with regard to crop
sales, expenditures, and other data from which the income figures were
Despite its many limitations, the author concludes that the
personal-interview method is superior to reliance solely on the data
from local field offices and the program's statistical office, though
such data are highly useful as a supplement to the interviews. More-
over, in terms of the range of diversity in the data from the colonies,
the interview survey has certain advantages over the method of partici-
pant observation. The latter often relies on the in-depth study of a
few families or individuals.
The information collected through the questionnaires iwas
supplemented by interviews with program officials and officials of
other Guatemalan development agencies; by the findings of thn Guate-
malan censuses-of 1950 and 196'+ and by the abundant published material
relating to living conditions in rural Guatemala, past and present.
Some of the bs.t of this material, in this author's judgment, is based
on the personal-interview method.
The Plan of the Study
Chapter II presents an overview of agricultural conditions in
Guatemala just prior to the parcelamiento program, as well as additional
aspects of the program itself. Chapter III is the first vhich pertains
to the findings of the interviews; it is a presentation of the social,
economic, and migratory backgrounds of the heads of families, and the
demographic characteristics which prevailed in the colonies in 1969.
Chapter IV -and--V-presentS the social and economic conditions in the
colonies, including standards of housing, diet, and literacy, as well
as the situation in agriculture and patterns of annual monetary farm
income. Finally, Chapter VA summarizes the study and presents its main
THE PARCELAMIENTOS: BACKGROUND
OF THE PROGRAM
The agricultural picture in Guatemala just prior to the
agrarian reforms of the 1950's is the subject of this chapter. Guate-
mala's four major regions are discussed the Indian west, the oriented "
or eastern region, the northern lowlands, and the Pacific lowlands.
Greater detail is also presented regarding'the parcelamientos.
The Indian West
The west, predominantly a region of highlands, is dotted with
small, impoverished Indian villages, contrasting with the colonial
splendor of many of its larger towns and the modernity of Guatemala
City. All 11 departments of this region, with the exception of Guate-
mala department, had an Indian majority in 1950. The population of 3
departments (Totonicapan, Solola, and Alta Verapaz) was over 90 per
cent Indian. Average farm size in this region in 1950 was 11.5 man-
zanas (19.8 acres), ranging from 1.6 manzanas (2.5 acres) in Totonica-
pan department to 24.7 manzanas (42.5 acres) in Alta Verapaz. In most
departments a few large estates contrasted with the general minifun-
dismo or subdivision of already-small family plots.
MAP 1: REGIONS & DEPARTMENTS OF GUATEMALA
/" :, J *a ^
EL S'LVA DOR
scale in miles
2. SAN MAHCOS
4. EL QUICHE
10. ALTA VEHAPAZ
11. BAJA VERAPAZ
12. EL fIROCGB30
17. SANTA ROSA
21. EL PETEN
NUMBER, TOTAL AREA, AND AVERAGE SIZE OF LAND HOLDINGS,
BY REGION AND DEPARTMENT, FOR GUATEMALA, 1950
Region & No. of Total Area Av. Farm Size
Department Farms (manz.)a (manz.)a
The West 230,025 2,649,602 11.5
Alta Verapaz 28,571 706,353 24.7
Baja Verapaz 11,771 222,561 18,9
Chimaltonango 18,059 178,376 9.9
Guatemala 18,352 252,367 13.8
Huehuotenango 32,027 343,077 10.7 .
Quczaltenango 20,292 196,453 9.7 -
Quiche 26,469 289,657 10.9
Sacatep6quez 9,042 51,179 5.7
San Marcos 34,261 324,811 9.5
Solola 13,561 56,256 4.1
Totonicap!n 17,620 28,512 1.6
The East 78,715 1,256,050 16.0
Chiquiraula 16,428 126,228 7.7
Jalapa 12,091 166,294 13.8
Jutiapa 22,982 295,613 12.9
Progress 5,619 125,304 22.3
Santa Rosa 15,346 375,234 24.5
Zacapa 6,249 167,377 26.8
The North 7,607 313,156 41.2
Izabal 5,401 291,717 54.0
Peten 22,206 21,439 9.7
The South 32,340 1,096,667 33.9
Escuintla 10,662 649,588 60.9
Retalhulcu 8,943 192,969 21.6
Suchitepequez 12,735 254,110 20.0
aA manzana (manz.) equals 1.72 acres,
Source: Guatemala, Dircccion General de Estadistica, Cenor
Agropecuario 1964, I (Guatemala, 1968), 29, and author's calculations.
In 1950 population growth was intensifying this region's
problems. Richard Appelbaum who studied the Indian community of San
Ildefonoo Ixtahuacan, Huchuetenango, in 1965 estimated that the
population growth rate in this community from 1950 to 1964 averaged
2.56 per cent per year. He writes, "I was frequently told that a
major population increase had occurred in the past 25 years, and that
large areas, formerly covered by forest, were not only being farmed,
but also were the sites of villages."5 The total land holding -f-the
Indians he interviewed averaged 5.22 acres, broken into as many as 5 or-.
6 small fields.
Over the past several decades land scarcity has forced the
Indian peasant (campesino) to supplement his farming in some way.
However, according to the Appelbaum study cash from the sale of eggs,
firewood, and the like is negligible; opportunities for highland farm
wage-work are minimal; and though some Indians supplemented their farm
income by small businesses ("barbers, peddlers, marimba players,
catechists, masons, soothsayers, witch doctors, and plantation
contracting agents," for example), these generally produced incomes
well below V1507 per year. Typically, all the major businesses in the
Indian communities are owned by Ladinos.
Thus, in the 1950's and earlier the Indians of Guatemala's west
were seeking seasonal plantation work in other parts of the country.
Richard P. Appelbaum, "Seasonal Migration in San Ildefonso
Ixtahucin: Its Causes and Consequences," Public and Inter.nation,.l
Affairs, IV, no. 1 (1966), 119.
Ibid., p. 132..
7Tho Guatemalan auetal (() or dollar equals the U.S. dollar.
The Indians have not benefitted greatly in terms of social or economic
mobility from this works nor have they' in rest cases remained away from
their home communities for more than a few months at a time. Few
Indian language speakers have benefitted from the parcelamiento program.
The Oric-nteor Eastern Region
The oriented is generally lower in elevation than the west.
It is comprised of six departments, only two of which (Chiquimula and
Jalapa) had an Indian majority in 1950. Average farm size is somewhat
greater than in the west (16.0 manzanan or 27.5 acres in 1950).
However, the poverty of this region should not be minimizsed the
smaller villages are generally as impoverished as the traditional
A major physical problem of the oriented is drought. Peter
Wright describes the dry season in one Jutiapa villages "From November
until late May there is little or no rain. The clay earth bakes and
cracks, pastures dry, trees shed their leaves, clouds of dust are
whipped by the wind and stirred by every moving object."8 John Gillin
reports, "In some years (July, 1942, 1946, and.1948, for example)
actual droughts harmful to the crops occurred during the so-called
rainy season,"9 Just as in the west, moreover, the terrain is rugged
and dissected. In the valley studied by Wrightt
Peter Wright, "Literacy and Custom in a Guatemalan Peasant Ladino
Community" (Ph.D. dissertation, Teachers' College, 1966), p. 30.
9John Gillin, The Culture of Security in San Carlots A Study
of a Guatemalan Community of Indians and :'di no3s (New Orleans: Middle
American Research Institute Publication 16, Tulane University, 1951),
Less than a quarter of the land is level. To' the west and
north, hills rise another 1,000 feet. Except in the cantern
end of the valley, the land is Iuebrada, rocky, eroded, broken by
gorges. It is on such marginal land that the majority of the
campesinos of El Jocote and of the entire Department of Jutiapa
Population pressure was being felt in the farming areas of this
region in 1950. Unlike the Indians, however, who most commonly engage
in seasonal migration, the campesinos of the east have been major
contributors to the streams of permanent migration to other regions.
The following rates of net out-migration were determined by Jorgo Arias
based on the population census of 1950 11
Santa Hosa -10.6
The oriented people have been especially numerous in the work force of
the United Fruit Company banana plantations in Guatemala. This group
is also numerous in the parcelamiontos.
The Northern Lowlands
The north of Guatemala was, in 1950, on the verge of becoming
.an agricultural frontier. It was not yet, however, truly integrated
into the national life.
Most of the region was remote from transportation arteries and
sparsely settled. An exception was the zone of United Fruit Company
0Wright, "Literacy and Custom in a Guatemalan Peasant Ladino
Community," pp. 28-30.
11Jorge Arias B., "Migracion intorna en Guatemala," Etuldios
Centroamericanos, No. 3 (Guatemalas Seminario de Integraci6n Social
Guatemalteca, 1967), p. 11.
banana plantations in Izabal department, with associated railroad lines
and a port facility on the Caribbean. 'Much of the labor force here was
drawn from the oriented as well as neighboring countries, especially
Honduras. The average land-holding size for Izabal (54.0 maneanas or
92.8 acres) bears out the generalization that Guatemala's lowlands have
been the center of plantation development, while the highlands have
served as a refuge of subsistence farmers.
El Peten department had only a few scattered settlements in
1950, including some chicle camps and an island of relatively dense
settlement at Flores and on the southern shores of Lake Peten Itz7.
By the late 1950's, Izabal was to have six parcelamientos in
the planning stage; El Peten would serve as the frontier of the 1960's
The Pacific Lowlands
The Pacific or south-coast lowlands .a....-f.Eo -.o f *I-
*94W- r Aike Izabal department lhe-thrr 4m rin PR-i- i .-.de.t*----
sCao-i ...l..h.r. ....- ,. "-3nh .1 are a center of plantations.
This is reflected in the large average land-holding sizes for these
departments in 1950 (especially Escuintla). The United Fruit Company
had a major center of banana plantations in Tiquisate township (nunicip-
io) in Escuintla until 1964. Other large plantations of the region
were devoted to coffee, sugar-cane, and cattle production.
Two departments, Suchiteptquez and Retalhuleu, had Indian
majorities in 1950. This is due to the large number of Indians who
were employed as mozos colonos (peons) on the coffee plantations
(fincas). The squalid conditions on thce flincas, particularly for the
seasonal laborers who live there only during the harvest season, has
been documented in several studies.,
With regard to the ix~rcelamientos two attributes of the Pacific
lowlands must be stressed: (1) the soils are rich, despite year-round
warm temperatures and seasonally heavy rainfall, being comprised of
weathered volcanic materials and (2) with ready access to Guatemala
City, and with road links to neighboring Mexico and ,El Salvador, this
region has marketing advantages not possessed by most of Latin America's
The Pacific lowland. departments have contributed many colonists
to the parcelamientos. On the other hand, there were no native-born
northerners in the interview' sample upon which this study is based.
The ParceJon!.entos of
the k'acific Lowiands
The two largest parcelamiontos of the Pacific lowlands, Nueva
Concepci6n and La Maquina, occupy 85,225 and 85,830 acres, respectively.
They have been subdivided into over 1,000 farms each. There are 15
smaller parcelamientos in this region, ranging in size from 1,657 to
31,352 acres and containing over 2,000 additional farms. The main
sources of land for the parcolaiientos have been the former United
Fruit Company lands, the properties acquired by expropriation during
the Ubico administration (1931-1944), certain fincas expropriated fror
2See two recent studicsi Appolbaum, "Seasonal Migration in
San Ildefonso Ixtahuacin"t and Loster Schmid, "The Role of Migratory
Labor in the Economic Development of Guatemala," Research Paper No. 22
(Madison, Wisc.s University of Wisconsin, Land Tenure Center, July,
former government leaders including Ubico and Arbenz, and, finally,
lands acquired in 1955 and after through voluntary sale by individuals.
On most of the smaller properties including the former private
and nationally-owned fincas, a great deal of land was cleared prior to
colonization, being either in crop production or grazed by cattle.
However, in the case of the two largest parcelamientos, as well as some
smaller ones, the land had been virtually uninhabited. The first steps,
in all cases, were to survey the land, bulldoze the primary and
secondary access roads, and clear some of the land along the roadways
(if it was not already cleared) to permit the settlers to begin farming
without delay. la aJca, satll "urbr6 cLrt4'" cro tc. 4 C.
Ic arie.s t-i?'eS .
The format of the parcelamientos was a grid pattern which has
been called somewhat disparagingly "the idea of Iowa." This is a
reference not only to the somewhat artificial regularity of the plan of
the colonies (despite at least some differences in the quality of the
land) but to the dispersed nature of settlement (in contrast with the
characteristic agricultural villages of Guatemala). It is also an
allusion to the involvement of United States planners in at least the
initial phases of the program. In deference to those who established
this format, it must be said that in the aftermath of the Arbenz
reforms and their (at least partial) reversal, rapid action to resettle
the coastal "squatters" was called for. A grid pattern, with rectan-
gular and generally equally-sized parcelas, was the optimum solution
under the circumstances.
The situation in the parcelamientos as colonization began has
been summarized by Ross Pearsont
THE 15 PARCELA4IESNTCS: LOCATION, TOTAL AREA, POPULATION, NUIEIER OF
FARMS IN THE SAMPLE UNIVERSE, AD SIZZ OF THE INTERVIjE SAMPLE
No. of Farms Size of the
Municipal Total Areab Populationc in the Sam- Interview
Parcelamiento Locationa (acres) (1967) pled Universe Sample
Montilfar Mo~-ta5 31,352 10,418 181 9
Santa Isabel Pto. San Jos 3,344 707 88 5
Cuyuta Masagua 15,531 5,664 245 12
Los Angeles Pto. San Jose 5,743 1,764 104 5
El Cajin Sta. Lucia Cotz. 6,531 1,713 108 6
Nue-. Concepci6n Tiquisate 85,225 34,672 1,276 64
GuatalSn Rio B-avo 2,655 1,202 38 2
Santa Elerna Rio Bravo 1,657 864 30 2
Monterrey Sto. Domingo 10,312 5,494 203 11
La 1'aquira Cuyoterango & San
Andris Villa Seca 85,830 30,784 1,189 60
El Rosario Champerico 5,696 2,610 94 5
Santa Fe Champerico 3,167 872 53 3
Caballo Blanco Champerico 7,704 1,403 112 6
El Reposo Genova 8,452 1,354 137 7
La Blanca Oces 7,608 6,148 121 6
aLocations are listed from east to west in the Pacific
bSource: Ross Pearson, "The Rural Development Program
coastal plain. .
in Guatemala, p. 42.
CSource: Guatemala, Instituto Nacional de Transformacion Agraria, Estadlsticas
Agrarias. 1955-1969, pp. 11-12.
o~o^^ ,0^-, ,b;Ld ('' i h -0) ~cni-,-~
MAP 2: LOCATION OF THE 15 PARCELAMIENTOS WITH RESPECT TO
TOWNS & TRANSPORT ROUTES
AGRICULTURAL OC VELiP!fEN r ZONC
0Doe from0CA A. od lDS
*n. vI //y Pro p t y,-
/Ad,4 / oo
P 7 I eO .. .
.) ,EMAPL' 3: NUE, "",,
POC >e Oceon --- Ar4 ***L*
MAP 3: NUEVA CONClEPCION
Source Ross N. PFe-aron, "The Rural 3Devenoprmnt programm in Guatanna ","
Fig. 12, p. 77.
The farm parcell) that the new owner receives is truly raw land.
There is no shelter and probably no water supply. All he can.
expect is that a portion of it will be learned sufficiently so
that he can plant a crop, that the boundaries have been laid out,
that he has a means of access to the outside world, and that no
one can take it away from him without due process of law.13
Measured either by the total lands involved in the program or
by the total number of beneficiaries, the record of the parcelamiento
program is not as impressive as that of the Agrarian Reform Law of 1952.
In terms of rural development, including improved housing, education,
diets, and farming methods, the accomplishments of the Castillo Araas-
initiated program will be considered (Chapterr IV and-V-).
13pearson, "The Rural Development Program," p. 27.
THE COLONISTSi BACKGROUNDS AND
This chapter begins the presentation of the interview findings
for 203 farm families settled in 15 parcelamientos. To organize the
data in this and subsequent chapters, four groups of parcelamientos
have been distinguished (1) the small eastern colonies, numbering 5,
where a total of 37 interviews were held; (2) Nueva Concepci6n, the
largest colony in terms of population, where 64 interviews were held;
(3) La Maquina, nearly equal to Nueva Concepci6n in number of colonists,
where 60 interviews were held; and (4) the small western colonies,
numbering 8, where 42 interviews were held. The justification for this
classification is twofold:
1. It stresses the distinction between east and west in Guatemala,
which is striking in the highlands and which is reflected in
milder forms in the Pacific lowlands.
2. It emphasizes the contrast in size between Nueva Concepci6n
and La Maquina, on the one hand, and the small colonies on the
other. This size difference is especially important when
considering the parcelamiento demography: the larger colonies
have generally attracted more long-distance niArants and a
larger "floating population" of rAqutters, renters, and day-
The Colonies as Socio-
economic Molting Pots
Maps 4 and 5 show the diversity of birthplaces of the heads of
families in the sample. Within the colonies even.neighbors arc most
often from different departments, and sometimes from different regions.
The birthplaces of the heads of families include 97 municipios and 19 of
Guatemala's 22 departments.
A majority of the heads of families had been living in the
Pacific region just prior to colonization, Many had been born there.
Others had migrated to the region for United Fruit Company work or to
obtain land in the Arbenz reform program. They simply filed petitions
(so-citudes) for land in the nearest colony. Within the colonies the
farms or Tparcelas were distributed by the lottery method. It appears
that there was a minimum of reshuffling of parcels once the original
assignments had been made.
Social backrhrounds of
the he-ads of families
In each interview it was asked if the head of family spoke an
Indian languages in 36 cases (17.7 per cent) the answer was affirma-
tive. However, in all 36 cases the.head of family spoke fluent Spanish
and dressed in a Ladino style. By these criteria he is a Ladino or
well-advanced in the cultural transition from Indian to Ladino,
MAP -~: MUNICIPAL BIRTHPLACES OF 101 EASTERN LOWLAND COLONISTS
scale in milqs
S BIRTHPLACE OF AT LEAST 1 COLONIST
.- BIRTHPLACE OF 3 OR MORE COLONISTS
n CEMUJNICIPIO CONTAINING AN EASTERN LOWLAND
MAP 16 MUNICIPAL BIRTHPLACES OF 102 WESTERN LOWLAND COLONISTS
S.INTHPLACE OF 3 OR MORE COLONISTS
D A M 1MUNICIPIO CONTAINING A WESTERN LOWLAND
At just what point the colonists of Indian-language background
began a transition to Ladino it would be impossible to say. However,
there is no question that by living in the Pacific region a person is
brought into touch with forces which tend to reduce his Indian-ness and
expose him to national-Guatemalan or Western ways. The coastal region
has a melting-pot quality which brings a person, once he has separated
from his highland village, into contact with many other regional (and
mainly Ladino) groups. This, and the desire to communicate in market-
places, to acquire and keep employment, to understand local radio
broadcasts, etc., introduces the necessity of Spanish. There is also
generally better access to Guatemala City, the center of national life,
from the Pacific region than from most parts of the western-highland
Of the heads of families without. Indian-language-speaking
ability, the largest group (51 heads of families) were born in the
Pacific region itself. Over 3 in 5 members of this group were born
within a 25-kilometer radius of the colony in which they now live.
Second most numerous are the eastern-highland Ladinos (50 heads of
families), many of whom first came to the lowlands to work for the
United Fruit Company. The western-highland Ladinos comprise 35 heads
of families in the sample; 18 of them had come from Guatemala or
Quezaltenango departments, containing the two largest cities of the
nation. Finally, the eastern-lowland Ladinos (31 heads of families)
are from the lower-elevation municipios near the Guatemalan frontier
with Honduras and El Salvador.
REGIONAL AND ETHNIC ORIGINS OF 203 HEADS OF
FAMILIES SETTLED IN 4 GROUPS OF COLONIES
No. Born in Western Regions No. Born in Eastern Regions
Highland Highland So. Coast So. Coast Highland Lowland
Colony Group Ladinos Indians Ladinos Indians Ladinos Ladinos
Interviews) 6 (16.2%) 3 (8.1%) 7 (18.9%) 11 (29.7%) 10 (27.0%)
(64 Interviews) 11 (17.2%) 4 (6.3%) 9 (14.1%) 27 (42.2%) 13 (20.3%)
La Maquina (60
Interviews) 12 (20.0%) 6 (10.C%) 15 (25.c%) 14 (23.3%) 8 (13.3%) 5 (8.3%)
Interviews) 6 (14.3%) 2 (4.8%) 20 (47.6%) 7 (16.7%) 4 (9.-) 3 (7.1%)
Of the Indian-language speakers, 21 are from the south coast
and 15 from the western highlands. As indicated, nearly all the heads.
of families can today be considered Ladinos.
In the interviews ability to read and write was recorded for
each family member. Of the 36 heads of families of Indian-language
background, only 11 could read and write. Of the 167 heads of'families
of Ladino background, 89 could read and write.
Economic backgrounds of
the heads of families
Prior to colonization the most common type of work experience
for the sample was farm operator (renter or owner), usually of a sub-
sistence sized plot of land; 53.2 per cent'of the heads of families had
once belonged to this part of the work force. Closely following this
category was plantation worker (jornalero), employing 45.3 per cent of
the heads of families at some time. Nearly 1 in 4 of the heads of
families (23.1 per cent) had had experience in some type of non-
agricultural work (for example, transport workers, craftsmen, students,
construction workers, and office workerss. Nearly 16 per cent had
worked for the United Fruit Company (not counted with the jornaleros
.because of the generally higher wages paid by the Fruit Company),
Clearly many.heads of families had had experience with more
than one type of work. A person is likely to keep open several eco-
nomic options in rural Guatemala to insure his survival. This may mean
a series of types of employment, or several income sources at one and
the same time, A head of family may rent some land on which to grow maize,
but also work occasionally on a larger farm or plantation as a
jornalero; and his family may operate a small store or concession at
the front of their house, perhaps engaging in a trade such as tailor-
ing on a part-time basis.
Table 4 indicates thn employment transitions experienced by the
203 heads of families before colonization. The most striking trends
for the group as a whole are the rise in United Fruit Company employ-
ment (fbim 8 to 25) and the decline in land ownership (from 38 to 23).
The trends are accounted for mainly by the out-migration of sons of
land owners from the home community. A son might inherit a portion of
his father's land once coming to adulthood. However, the land acquired
in this way seldom exceeds subsistence size. For young families the
wages and living conditions on the United Fruit Company plantations
apparently offered an attractive alternative.
To summarize employment by regional and ethnic backgrounds
(Table 5), (i) a majority of the heads of families of Indian back-
ground as well as the south-coast Ladinos had worked as jornaleros for
some time, (2) a majority of the easterners and Ladino western highland-
ers had been farm operators (either land owners or renters) for some
time, (3) the Ladino western highlanders also show a high freuqency of
non-agricultural work experience, and (4) the eastern groups show the
highest frequency of United Fruit Company employment.
NUMBER EMPLOYED IN VARIOUS TYPES OF
WORK (1) AT THE PLACE OF FIRST EMPLOYMENT AND (2) JUST
BEFORE COLONIZATION, FOR 203 HEADS OF FAMILIES BY ETHNIC-REGIONAL BACKGROUND
Western Western South South Eastern Eastern
Highland Highland Coast Coast Highland Lowland
Totals Ladinos Indians Ladinos Indians Ladinos Ladinos
Type of Employment (1)a (2)b (I)a (2)b (1)a (2)b (1)a (2)b ()a (2)b (1)a (2)b (1)a (2)b
TOTALS 203 .203 35 35 15 15 51 51 21 21 50 50 31 31
of families were employed just before colonization.
203 HEADS OF FAMILIES:
PERCENTAGE WHO E.NAGED IN VARIOUS
TYPES OF WORK, BY ETHNIC-Ai? REGIONAL BACKGROUNi
Percentage Who Engaged in Each Type of Work
Non Agri- UFCo
Farm cultural Worker
Background Operator Jornalero Worker
inos (35 colonists) 54.3 40.0 42.8 14.3
(15 colonists) 40.0 60.0 26.7 6.7
(51 colonists) 41.2 54.9 23.5 11.8
(21 colonists) 38.1 61.9 9.5 -
(50 colonists) 74,0 38.0 20.0 28.0
(31 colonists) 54.8 29.0 12.9 19.4
Minratory backgrounds of
the heads of families
Eighteen colonists (11 Ladinos and 7 Indians by background)
have lived in the same municipio all their lives. They are, then,
intra-municipal migrants, having shifted their residence from a nearby
town or plantation to a parcelamiento. They would not be counted in
the national census as migrants, but some have experienced a succession
of moves and types of employment within a single coastal municipio.
A majority of the colonists (108 or 53.2 per cent) have lived
in 2 municipios, In general these are the municipio of birth and the
municipio in which the colonist presently resides. (Exceptions are the
few colonists who were born in their present municipio of residence,
but who lived elsewhere for some time period.) In addition, there were
77 colonists (37.9 per cent) who had lived in 3, up to as many as 7
different municipios. It should be stressed that mobility is often
greater than is indicated by these .-set"I'iefn in 16 cases, shifts
from one municipio to another and then back again were recorded. There
were also shifts of residence within municipios recorded and it is
probable other such moves went unmentioned.
The diversity in the migratory, ethnic, and economic back-
grounds of the settlers has given each parcelamiento a melting-pot
character very similar to that of the coastal region as a whole, but in
microcosm. One result of this diversity is that neighbors often remain
aloof from one another, sometimes even referring to people from another
region as "mala gnte" ("bad people"). There are only incipient signs
that-what-may-be-c~aled- a community spirit is beg+inm -to. develop in
some colonies or sectors of colonies. For example, "line chiefs" or
captains for each secondary access road had been appointed by 1969 in
Nueva Concepci6n to act as liaisons with the administration. A group
of parcel owners in Monterrey had joined together in 1971 to rebuild a
seasonally-passable access road into an all-weather one.
Diversity in the present-day
characteristics of the heads
of householdsil i"
Diversity in the colonies is measured not only by the back-
grounds of the heads of households but by their present-day demographic
(1) Although the vast majority (96.6 per cent) of the heads of
households in the sample are men, 7 are women, coming exclusively from
the oriented. Four of the women are parcelarias parcela owners) in the
eastern colonies, and 3 in the west. They came to be heads of house-
holds, for the most part, through the death of their husbands; however,
2 have been parcelarias from the start, and 2 remain the household
heads although they have remarried.
(2) While a majority (70 per cent).of the heads of households
in the sample are 41 years of age or older, there are some heads of
households in every age group older than 20. The highest frequency is
in the 41-50 age group (34 per cent), followed by the 51-60 age group
(23.1 per cent). Despite some evidence in the literature of a shift of
'To this point, "family" has been used to designate each of
the 203 members of the sample. Each is a family in the sense that its
component individuals are related biologically or by marital ties.
However, a more accurate designation is "household"--an extended kin-
dred, which may include married sons and daughters and their offspring,
etc., all of whom share residence on, and responsibility for, the
parcel, and who usually look to a single individual as the head of
PERCENTAGE OF HEADS OF HOUSEHOLDS IN EACH OF 5 AGE GROUPS
BY COLONY OF RESIDENCE
Colony Group 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 Over 60
Snail Eastern Colonies 2.7 18.9 43.2 27.0 8.1
Nueva Concepcion 14.1 18.7 28.1 25.0 14.1
La Maquina 13.3 20.0 33.3 20.0 13.3
Small Western Colonies 7.1 21.4 35.7 21.4 14.3
All-colony Totals 10.3 19.7 34.0 23.1 12.8
decision-making power away from the family patriarchs and toward the
young, it appears that age-seniority continues to be a critical dimen-
sion of rural power.
(3) About one-half of the heads of households (49.2 per cent)
*are literate. This is far above the national rural literacy rate for
all ages over 6 (22.2 per cent), and is also above the total national
rate (36.7 per cent). This suggests that the colonists are "positively
selected" migrants. There is no question that those individuals with
the ability to read and write are in a better position to benefit from
this and other government-sponsored programs. Communication channels
are more open to them; and the requirement of a written petition for
land is less intimidating. For many who qualify as literate, however,
reading and writing skills are at best rudimentary. They may suffice
for practical survival, but they are not, in all but a few cases,
effective tools by which individuals or groups can compete successfully
with established interest groups.
LITERACY RATES FOR '203 HEADS OF HOUSEHOLDS IN 4
GROUPS OF COLONIES
% of Heads of
Colony Group Households Literate
Small eastern colonies 46.0
Nueva Concepcion 48.4
La Maquina 56.6
Small western colonies 42.8
(4) As noted in the introduction, approximately 1 in 10 of the
heads of households is not a titled owner but a care-taker or renter.
There is some absentee ownership in all 4 groups of colonies, although
it appears to be more prevalent in La Maquina. It must be stressed
that the care-taker is often a relative of the owner and that .the rela-
tionship is not always one of patron and peon, with overtones of power-
ful status for one party and exploited status for the other. It is
often true that the care-taker stands to inherit the land eventually
and become its titled owner. Nevertheless, absenteeism linked to
political patrimony is a definite and pernicious facet of the coloniza-
PERCENTAGE OF FARM-OPERATORS IN 4 GROUPS OF COL-
ONIES WHO ARE CARE-TAKERS OR RENTERS,
ACCORDING TO THE 5-PER-CENT SAMPLE
Colony Group or Renters
Small eastern colonies 10.8
Nueva Concepci6n 9.4
La Maquina 15.0
Small western colonies 9.5
(5) There are a significant number of households (24, or 11.8
per cent) in which the head is single, widowed, divorced, or for some
other reason there is no spouse in residence. -This- i-moat r-ef i
the-eater n-e loni ^ -bt-.t i o tru an-kexenin-the--weern
eelnes. Of the 7 female heads of households, 4 are widows and 1 is
divorced. In the case of 19 male heads of households, 5 are bachelors,
5 are widowers, 3 have separated from their wives, 3 coimute to a home
outside of the colonies on weekends or less frequently, i is divorced,
and for 2 there is no datum. In 10 of these 19 cases, the household
consists of a single individual, although in many cases there are also
hired hands and domestic servants who work on the parcela. Non-
relatives who live on a parcela have not been counted as part of the
household. (See "Vivientes and renters" below.)
(6) Finally, it can be noted as one further index of 'population
mobility in Guatemala that 86 colonists (out of the 176 with marriage
partners and for whom there are data) married individuals who were born
in a different department from themselves. Fifty-nine chose a spouse
born in the same municipio; 31 married someone born in the same depart-
ment but in a different municipio. In one case, a wife was from El
of the Colonists
Table-24 indicates that more than 3 in 4 heads of households
(78.8 per cent) were living in the Pacific lowlands just prior to
colonization; 100 (49.3 per cent) were living in the same municipio in
which their colony is now located. Only in the case of La Maquina were
very few heads of households living in the immediate vicinity of the
colony when it was first being settled.
A majority of the household heads (59.6 per cent), moreover,
had lived in a colony for at least 10 years by 1969. In the case of La
Maquina many of the parcelas were established in 1960 or later, which
helps to account for the lower percentage of 10-year residents there.
RESIDENTIAL STABILITY FOR 203 HEADS OF HOUSEHOLDS
IN 4 GROUPS OF COLONIES
Pacific Lowland Local Municipal Colony Residence
Residence Just Residence Just For 10 Years
Before Colonization Before Colonization Or More
Colony Group No. % No. % No. %
Small Eastern Colonies
(37 Heads of Households) 32 86.5 27 73.0 23 62.2
Nueva Concepci6n (64
Heads of Households) 46 71.9 33 51.6 44 68.8
La Maquina (60 Heads of
Households) 44 73.3 12 20.0 21 35.0
Small Western Colonies
(42 Heads of Households) 38 90.5 28 66.7 33 78.6
All-colony Totals (203
Heads of Households) 160 78.8 100 49.3 121 59.6
Nearly half (45.8 per cent) of the pareblarios had lived on the
parcel they now operate for 10 years or more. A majority (114 or 56.2
per cent) were the first to own their parcel. Still, fully 43.8 per
cent were the second, and in some cases the third or fourth, to operate
a given parcela. Thus, the purchase of a parcela from the original
owner (or the assumption of the original owner's debts; or both) has
been fairly common. The parcelas have not, however, in most cases,
been subdivided in the process.
Table 10 also indicates that many heads of households became
parcelarios some time after they arrived in a colony. Many were first
jornaleros or renters. Moreover, 23 in the interview sample are not
yet the owners of land. As noted, this group is part of the care-
taker and renter population in the colonies, most of whom aspire some-
day to own land.
An Overview of the
Given the plan of each colony to include tens if not hundreds
of 40- to 50-acre farms, it is not surprising to find that there is a
ADDITIONAL RESIDENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS FOR 203 HEADS OF HOUSEHOLDS
IN 4 GROUPS OF COLONIES
For 10 Years First to Own Present Non- Earlier Non-
Or More Parcela Parcelario Status Parcelario Status
Colony Group No. % No. % No. % No. %
Colonies (37 Heads
(64 Heads of
La Maquina (60
Heads of House-
Colonies (42 Heads
(203 Heads of
4 4 -.-- Y I ~ ~
huge seasonal labor flow--particularly into Nueva Concepci6n and La
Maquina--during the planting and harvesting seasons. Added to this are
families seeking a permanent title to land (despite the fact that it is
common knowledge that no more .parcelas are available in the established
colonies of the Pacific region). Finally, some parcelas are experienc-
ing a small-scale "population explosion" due to the presence of rela-
tives (including married offspring and their children) as well as
squatters (vivientes) from outside the kin group. -
Nevertheless, the proliferation of numbers of people on most of.
the individual parcelas should not be exaggerated. A series of tabula-
tions have been prepared for the 203-member sample including: (1) the
size and composition of the primary household group, (2) the number of
families, besides the primary household, living on the parcel as
vivientes, and (3) the number of jornaleros typically employed on the
parcela at peak labor periods. Based on these tabulations it is possi-
ble to say that a demographic "point of no return" has not been reached:
most parcelas retain their potential for commercial-type production.
However, there are individual cases where a parcela has become over-
crowded by the expansion of a single household or by the presence of
squatters or renters. In these cases, it is difficult to see how a
continuation of (or reversion to) subsistence-farming patterns can be
The most common type of household in the colonies is the simple
nuclear family, consisting of a couple and their offspring: this type
of household was found on 89 parcelas. Also common were the households
consisting of 2 or more nuclear families biologically related (71 house-
holds in the sample); most commonly, these households were comprised of
parents and their married offspring, although sometimes brothers were
co-parcelarios with the land title vested in the name of one or
another--often after the death of their father. Generally the smallest
households were the subnuclear, found on 17 parcelasl often these were.
comprised of a single individual. Generally intermediate in size were
the 26 households comprised of a nuclear family and one or more' affines
(such as an aged parent, a cousin, or some other close relative).
In terms of size, the 203 households averaged 8.8 members. The
largest households (13 members or more) were most common in the small
western colonies, but made up only 17.2 per cent of the sample as a
whole. Most frequently encountered were the 7-12 member households
(47.8 per cent of the sample), followed by the households comprised of
6 members or fewer (35 per cent). La Maquina had the most small house-
holds. This may be related to the higher rate of absentee ownership
there, as well as to the fact that many heads of households were young
(aged 40 or younger) and would be expected to have nuclear rather than
Vivientes and renters
Household size is hardly excessive, being 12 members or fewer
in the great majority of cases. Moreover, on most parcelas (115) there
were no vivientes or renters reported. The total number of "other"
families reported was 129, residing on 88 of the 203 parcelas. The
author, from extensive travels through the colonies, finds no reason to
doubt the general accuracy of this finding.. However, statistics on the
NUMBER OF HOUSEHOLDS IN EACH OF 4 KINSHIP CLASSIFICATIONS,
BY COLONY OF RESIDENCE
Type of Household
Colony Group Nuclear Subnuclear Affines Multi-nuclear
No. % No. % No. % No. %
Small Eastern Colo-
nies (37 Households) 19 51.4 4 10.8 4 10.8 10 27.0
Nueva Concepci6n (64
Households 25 39.0 7 10.9 11 17.2 21 32.8
La Maquina (60
Households) 33 55.0 4 6.7 5 8.3 18 30.0
Small Western Colo-
nies (42 Households) 12 28.6 2 4.8 6 14.3 22 52.4
(203 Households) 89 43.8 17 8.4 26 12.8 71 35.0
NUMBER OF HOUSEHOLDS IN EACH OF 3 SIZE CLASSIFICATIONS,
BY COLONY OF RESIDENCE
6 Persons Or 13 Persons Or
Colony Group Fewer 7-12 Persons More
No. % No. % No. %
Small Eastern Colo-
nies (37 Households) 12 32.4 20 54.0 5 13.5
Nueva Concepci6n (64
Households) 23 35.9 31 48.5 10 15.6
La Maquina (60
Households) 26 43.3 26 43.3 '8 13.3
Small Western Colo-
nies (42 Households) 10 23.8 20 47.6 12 28.6
(203 Households) 71 35.0 97 47.8 35 17.2
amount of land rented to others (both vivientes on parcelas and
families living in an urban center of the colony) may be more suspect.
It is true, nevertheless, that most renting is done through the adminis-
tration in reserve areas (areas de reserve), generally in the form of
2-manzana plots contracted by families or individuals for a year at a
time. The land rented out by the parcelarios, by their own reports,
amounted to little more than 1 manzana per parcela on the average.
It appears that most of the vivientes derive their support ftom.wage-
work in the colonies rather than from farming rented land. It is also
characteristic for a renter of parcel land to live elsewhere--for
example, in an urban center--rather than on the land he is renting.
The number of jornaleros recruited from within and outside the
colonies by members of the sample is reported in Table 29. Those
parcel operators who hired 1-3 jornaleros at peak labor times were
most common (65 cases). Farmers who hired no day-laborers at all out-
side the household group were also numerous (52 cases). However, those
who employed 4-6 jornaleros (49 cases) and over 6 jornaleros (37 cases)
were important especially in La Maquina. Very commonly the jornaleros
who were recruited from outside the colonies were Indians from the
highlands--particularly in the case of La Maquina. Thus, the colonies
repeat the pattern observed elsewhere in the Pacific region of exploit-
ing Indians for labor on commercial-sized farms.
!iNot included in this figure is rented pastureland (discussed
in Chapter VII). Pastureland is usually rented only to fellow parcel-
NUMBER OF "OTHER" FAMILIES RESIDING ON 203 PARCELAS IN 4 GROUPS OF COLONIES,
WITH TOTAL OF LAND RENTED FROM THE 203 PARCELAS
Number of "Other" Families
Colony Group 0 1 2 3 4 5 Total Total Land Rented
Parcelas) 18 10 7 1 1 32 15-16 manz., 1 cuer.
(64 Parcelas) 43 14 6 1 29 64 manz., 3 cuer.a
La Maquina (60
Parcelas) 30 25 3 2 37 90 manz., 3 cuer.
Parcelas) 24 9 7 2 31 49 manz.
(203 Parcelas) No. 115 58 23 4 2 1 129 219-220 manz., 1 cuer.a
% 56.7 28.6 11.3 2.0 1.0 .5 100.0
aA cuerda (cuer.) equals one-sixth manzana or .29 acre in eastern Guatemala. This differs
from the area of a cuerda in the Indian regions and the coffee districts where a cuerda equals
one-sixteenth of a manzana or one-tenth of an acre. The larger-sized cuerda will be used through-
out the discussion of the parcelamientos.
NUMBER OF JORNAIEROS HIRED IN PEAK LABOR PERIODS ON 203 PARCELAS
IN 4 GROUPS OF COLONIES
Number of Jornaleros
Colony Group 0 1-3 4-6 Over 6
No. % No. % No. % No. % Totals Per Farm
Parcelas) 12 32.4 11 29.7 9 24.3 3 13.5 121-129 c. 3
(64 Parcelas) 16 25.0 24 37.5 13 20.3 11 17.2 224-244 c. 4
La Maquina (60
Parcelas) 10 16.7- 14 23.3 17 28.3 19 31.7 283-323 c. 5
Parcelas) 14 33.3 16 38.1 10 23.8 2 4.8 119-125 c. 3
52 25.6 65 32.0 49 24.1 37
In the eastern colonies it is more common to recruit day-
laborers from the viviente and urban "floating" population.
Nueva Concepcion and La Maquina were the biggest employers of
jornaleros, averaging about 4 and 5 jornaleros per parcel, respec-
tively. In the small colonies the average number recruited was approx-
imately 3 per parcela.
The colonies are melting pots in which even neighbors'are most
often from different departments, and sometimes from different regions. .
This diversity has led to a relatively low degree of community spirit,
which is compounded by the change in ownership of many parcelas. How-
ever, community instability should not be over-emphasized: a majority
of the settlers in the sample had lived in a colony for at least 10
years, and more than half were also the first to own their parcelas.
Although the colonies serve as end-points of migration of out-
standing importance, they have not become overcrowded except in the case
of a very limited number of farms. However, clearly a continuing high
rate of population growth could turn the tide of change in the colonies
toward greater and greater stress upon land and social resources.
THE COLONIES SOCIAL AND
This chapter presents the focal aspects of the parcelamiento
program: living conditions including methods in agriculture and
monetary farm incomes. Topics dealt with includes the main sources of
farm income;:housing, diets, and literacy; techniques in farming and
cattle raising and income transitions from before colonization to
1969. To what extent does commercial farming occur in the parcela-
mientos? What are the problems which planners must confront in the
Farm Size and Land Use
Most farms in the sample (82.3 per cent) were 28 manzanas
(48.2 acres) -No farm was smaller than 31 acres; the largest was 112
acres (1 caballerfa). Regarding land use, the vast majority of farms
(81.3 per cent) have more than 10 manzanas (17.2 acres) cleared.
Eighty farms (39.4 per cent) have more than 20 manzanas cleared.
However, a great deal of this land (especially in the eastern colonies)
is planted to perennial grasses for cattle-grazing. Where the pasture
is not kept up it reverts to monte (a scrub vegetation), the form in
which the land is rested. The tropical forest growth once covering
much of the present colonies is nearly all cut down.
Regarding the amount of land devoted to.annual crops and fruit
trees, this seldom exceeds 10 manzanas per parcela per growing season
(Table 15). Table 16 shows the amount of land on the parcelas planted
to annual crops as well as pasture, fruit trees, and other perennials.
The acreage of corn planted in the May ("'fgueo") sowing exceeds by far
the acreage planted to any other crop. The corn acreage planted in the
August-September ("seunda") and January-March ("humedad") sowings is
also large. The other main annual crops are sesame, rice, and sorghum.
Plantains are raised extensively (especially in Nueva Concepcion).
Sugar cane is raised mainly in El Caj6n and Guatalon-Santa Elena (due
to their proximity to the large coastal sugar mills).
Pastureland (which is mainly used by a parcelario to graze his
own beef and dairy cattle, but which is sometimes rented to others) is
second only to corn as a major form of land use. Pasture is commonly
rented at the rate of V1.00 per month per head of cattle. The consen-
sus among beef and dairy farmers was that for each head of cattle
pastured a farmer needs 1 manzana of average-quality grazing land, or
2 manzana of exceptionally good pasture. The number of parcelarios in
each colony who owned 10 head of cattle or more is shown in Table 17.
S On almost every parcela some land was planted to fruit trees
such as lemon, orange, papaya, mango, and coconut. Yucca, peanuts,
squash, beans, low-altitude coffee, tomatoes, watermelon, and achiote
(from which a yellow dye is made) were grown on a small scale on many
203 PARCELS: AMOUNT OF LAND PER FARM
DEVOTED TO ANNUAL CROPS AND PLANTAINS
Amount of Land per Farm (Manzanas)
Second & Third Growing
First Growing Season Seasons Combined
Colony Group 0-10 11-20 21 0-10 11-20 21
(37 parcelas) 28 6 3 32 3 2
(64 parcels) 42 21 1 48 13 3
(60 parcelas) 28 21 11 53 4 3
(42 parcels) 26 13 3 38 3 1
(203 parcelas) 124 61 18 171 23 9
% 61.1 30.0 8.9 84.2 11.3 4.4
EXTENT OF LAND PLANTED TO VARIOUS CROPS, FOr THE EASTERN VS. THE WESTERN
COLONIES (IN MANZANAS)
Eastern Colonies Western Colonies
Type of Crop (101 Parcelas) (102 Parcelas)
1st planting 605-610 1,145-1,151
2nd planting 135-138 433- 435
3rd planting 318-322 4
1st planting 29
2nd planting 44
Plantains 81 11
Sesame 44 118
Rice 37 65
Cropland rented to
others 56- 57 30
Own pasture 803 328
Pasture rented to
others 80 24
Sugar cane 30 26
Fruit 28 3
Other 20 12
NUMBER OF HOUSEHOLDS OWNING 10 OR MORE HEAD OF CATTLE, BY PARCELAMIENTO
Parcelamiento No. owning 10 dr more head
Montufar (9 parcels) 6
Cuyuta (12 parcelas) 4
Santa Isabel (5 parcelas) 3
Los Angeles (5 parcelas) 5
El Caj6n (6 parcelas) 2
SMALL EASTERN COLONIES
(37 parcelas) 20 (54%)
(64 parcels) 24 (37.5%)
Sectors A-E (34 parcelas) 16
Sectors F & G (30 parcelas) 8
LA MAQUINA (60 parcelas) 4 (6.7%)
Sectors A & B (26 percelas)
Sectors C & D (34 parcelas) 4
Guatal6n & Santa Elena
Monterrey (11 parcelas) 1
Caballo Blanco & Santa Fe
(9 parcelas) 1
El Reposo (7 parcelas) 4
El Rosario (5 parcels) 1
La Blanca (6 parcelas) 1
SMALL WESTERN COLONIES
(42 parcelas) 8 (19o)
TOTAL (203 parcelas)
The Main Sources of Farm Income
Corn-growing leads all other activities as a source of farm
income. Corn-growing and cattle-raising together accounted for most of
the income on 130 out of 203 parcelas. Crops which provided the main
income in some instances were sesame, sugar cane, rice, plantains,
sorghum, yucca, kenaf (a fiber crop), and watermelon.
However, the number of households who drew their main support
from a source other than crop- or cattle-raising is surprising.,. Twenty-
two households in the sample depended mainly on guardian or jornalero
wages; 7 depended on land rentals; 6 depended on the sale of eggs,
chickens, or hogs; 4, generally among the higher-income households,
derived their income mainly from tractor rental or a transport business;
one depended mainly on tailoring; and another (an aged guardian) lived
mainly from a pension.
Supplementary income sources included occasional wage work,
chicken and hog raising, fruit production, and the maintenance of a
small store on the parcela. However, of the 203 households, 123 (60.6
per cent) derived two-thirds or more of their monetary income in 1969
from one of the chief sources listed in Table 18.
-~--I~'" -"-'-- "----- ------ -----
MAIN SOURCE OF INCOME ON 203 PARCELS IN 4 GROUPS OF PARCELAMIENTOS
Chief Small Small
Source of Eastern Nueva La Western
Income Totals Colonies Concepci6n Maquina Colonies
Corn 98 7 25 49 17
Cattle 32 15 12 2 3
Wages 22 4 9 3 6
Sesame 10 2 4 4
Land rental 7 2 3 2
Sugar cane 6 3 3
Sale of small
stock & eggs 6 6 -
Rice 5 2 3
Plantains 5 4 1
or transport 4 1 1 2
Sorghu- 2 2 -
Yucca 2 2 -
Kenaf 1 I -
Watermelon 1 1
Tailoring 1 1 -
Pension 1 -1 -
TOTALS 203 37 64 60 42
The 1964 national housing census reported that 90.3 per cent of
all the rural dwellings in Guatemala had an earthen floor. For rural
dwellings in the three main south-coast departments, the percentage was
77.3 (Table 19). Roofing material in rural Guatemala was mainly thatch
(49.8 per cent), tile (30.9 percent), and laminated metal (18.2 per
cent). In the main south-coast departments the rural houses were most
often roofed with thatch (42.8 per cent) and metal (42.8 per cent).
(See Table 20.)
By comparison, approximately ore-half of the parcelas in the
sample (51.2 per cent) had a house with a cement floor. More than 3 in
5 parcelas (62.1 per cent) had a house with a metal roof.
The generally favorable housing picture in the colonies is due
partly.to the work of the I.N.T.A. Division of Rural Housing and
Potable Water (and its predecessors before 1962). Between 1956 and
1969, 1,560 houses were constructed on parcelas by these agencies--
mainly in the colonies of the Pacific lowlands. In addition, 1,396
wells were dug, 775 kitchens were built, and 582 latrines were distri-
buted.16 The cost of these amenities (j300 for the house, V60 for the
rell, and V100 for the kitchen and latrine) is generally borne through
the acquisition of a'loan.'7
16Guatemala, Institute Nacional de Transformaci6n Agraria,
Estadisticas Agrarias, 1955-1969, p. 15; 12 of the houses, one of the
kitchens, and. one of the latrines, and 94 of the wells were constructed
outside of the Pacific lowland parcelamientos.
7Pearson, "The Rural Development Program," p. 28.
MATERIAL IN THE FLOORS OF DWELLINGS FOR THE REPUBLIC OF
GUATEMALA, BY REGIONa
Percentage of Dwellings with Various Floor Materials
Region Earth Otherb Total
Urban 45.5 54.5 100.0
Rural 94.5 5.5 100.0
Urban 51.0 49.0 100.0
Rural 77.3 22.7 100.0
Urban 54.1 45.9 100.0
Rural 89.9 10.1 100.0
Urban 40.9 59.1 100.0
Rural 78.8 21.2 100.0
Urban 47.1 52.9 100.0
Rural 90.3 9.7 100.0
aSee Map I for regional boundaries.
Including cement, clay tile, and wood.
Source: Guatemala, Direcci6n General de EstadIstica, Censo 1964, Vivienda,
(Guatemala, 1966), and author's calculations.
IN THE ROOFS OF DWELLINGS FOR THE REPUBLIC OF
GUATEMALA, BY REGIONa
Percentage of Dwellings with Various Roof Materials
Region Metal Tile Thatch Other Total
Urban 51.6 29.1 10.5 8.8 100.0
Rural 16.3 31.7 51.2 .8 100.0
Urban 64.6 15.7 15.5 4.2 100.0
Rural 42.8 11.2 42.8 3.2 100.0
Urban 9.8 69.7 20.0 .5 100.0
Rural 5.7 47.7 46.3 .4 100.0
Urban 55.9 1.5 40.9 1.7 100.0
Rural 20.2 3.6 74.8 1.4 100.0
Urban 47.9 31.8 13.3 7.0 100.0
Rural 18.2 30.9 49.8 1.1 100.0
See Map 1 for regional boundaries.
Source: Guatemala, Direcci6n General de
Estadfstica, Censo 1964, Vivienda, and
AL ~ ~
. T. Two large earther-
serving as the main
A shaded. perir.noent
dwelling, with ccmlp..nion
ranchos, in a s:all
HOUSING CONDITIONS FOR 203 FAMILIES IN 15 PARCELAMIENTOS
No. with a No. with a No. with No. with
Parcelamiento Cement Floor Metal Roof a Latrine a well
El Caj6n (6)
Sectors F, G
La Maquina (60
Sectors A, B
Sectors C, D
Sta. Fe (9)
El Reposo (7)
El Rosario (5)
La Blanca (6)
18 (42.9%) ,
Households) 104 (51.2%) 126 (62.1%) 51 (25.1%) 198 (97.55)
Sixty-eight parcelas in the sample had a house constructed
under program supervision, In addition, a substantial number had built
their own cement-floored, metal-roofed dwelling. However, a very large
number of parcels have only the typical rural shelter of the lowlands,
the rancho de manaco, The rancho generally consists of a single room
(though a cloth partition may be hung to subdivide it), and has an
earthen floor, a roof made from the fronds of the manaco palm, and
walls of planks or poles, Ranchos served as nearly the universal style
of dwelling when the colonies were first settled. Moreover, even when
a parcel acquires a permanent dwelling the satellite households,
vivientes, etc., almost always live in ranchos. The rancho is parti-
cularly common as the kitchen where food is prepared and eaten.
A small fire smolders almost perpetually at some place in the
rancho, the smoke escaping through the roof. The smoke effectively
repels gnats and mosquitoes; the greatest hazards of the rancho are the
inadequate protection it gives from the heavy downpours and winds of
the rainy season, with occasional flooding, and the infestation of the
walls and roof by insects and rodents.
Paradoxically, the visitor to a parcel quickly discovers that
the "permanent" houses (especially those constructed with program
supervision) often are vacant while the whole round of daytime life
takes place in an adjacent rancho. Occasionally a family will make no
other use of the permanent dwelling than for grain storage. One explan-
ation appears to be cultural preference. Life centers about the hearth
where food is prepared and protection is found from insects. Women's
work, especially grinding the maize, forming its dough into pancake-
shaped tortillas, and toasting the tortillas on a clay griddle, takes
place in the rancho. Young children use vacant parts of the rancho for
play space, or are cradled in hammocks strung from the rancho's support
Perhaps more importantly, the permanent dwelling tends-to
become oven-like during the day when compared with the higher-roofed
and better-ventilated rancho. The roof of the permanent dwelling has
a low pitch and, except in the case of administrative buildings,;no
sub-ceiling to create an attic space. This dwelling has been found
ideal for drying and storing grain; often it contains metal-framed beds
and hammocks and serves as the main sleeping quarters. However, as a
setting for daily life its potential has been at least partially lost
by poor design. The only feasible remedy appears to be for shade trees
to be planted near the house as has been done on a number of parcelas.
The usual meal in the colonies consists of corn tortillas,
black beans, cheese, eggs scrambled in vegetable oil or lard, and
heavily-sweetened coffee. This basic meal does not vary greatly from
breakfast to lunch to dinner however, eggs are seldom eaten more than
once a day, and sometimes not this often. Special dishes such as soup
made with meat are generally eaten at the noon meal which is considered
the main one.
The frequency of consumption of certain protein foods was asked
in the interviews. Black beans (frijoles negros) were eaten daily in
almost every household. Among the rural families, those who do not eat
beans daily are generally the very poorest. This is especially true in
the lowlands where beans cannot generally be grown due to the humid
conditions and most of the beans which are consumed must be purchased.
The sources of animal protein for which data were collected
include eggs, milk, and meats, fish, and poultry. Particularly in the
eastern colonies, where dairying is common, the frequency of milk
consumption is high.18 Eggs were also consumed with greatest frequency
in the eastern colonies. Among the poorer families it is more,common
to sell the eggs and chickens produced on the farm for cash than to
consume these products within the household.
Probably the best measure of household affluence is the
frequency of consumption of beef, pork, fish, and chicken (only the
last of which is commonly slaughtered as well as raised directly on the
parcela). Only about 1 in 10 households in the sample consumed one or
another of these foods on a daily basis. Again it is the small eastern
colonies which ranked highest by this measure of affluence.
At each farm the consumption frequency of Incaparina flour was
asked. There was a general familiarity with this product, which has
been developed by the Nutritional Institute of Central America and
Panama (I.N.C.A.P.) and is high in protein. However, only 21.1 per
cent of.the households in the sample ever used this product, and gener-
ally the response was that Incaparina is fed to children as a dietary
supplement but is not eaten by adults.
18See Appendix III for statistical testing of the inter-
relationship between such variables as diet and other variables-oaee
..-.o l f-f -e^idonoo.. 0 o; the srhid)Y.
FREQUENCY OF CONSUMPTION OF CERTAIN PROTEIN FOODS BY 203 HOUSEHOLDS
IN 15 PARCELAMIENTOS
No. Who Consume Certain Foods Daily or More Often
Beef, Pork, a
Parcelamiento Beans Eggs Milk or Chicken Incaparina
El Caj6n (6)
Sectors F, G
La Maquina (60
Sectors A, B
Sectors C, D
58(90.6) 43 (67.2%) 47(73.%) 6(9. 4%)
'- -2 /
56(93.3%) 24(40. 0) 21 (35.o ) 4(6.7%)
40(95.2%) 16(38.1%) 17(o0.%) 5(1.9%)
10 o 3.8- )
Elena (4) 4 2 1 1
Monterrey (11) 9 2 3 1 1
Sta. Fe (9) 9 2 3 1 3
El Reposo (7) 7 4 5 1
El Rosario (5) 5 2 2 3 1
La Blanca (6) 6 4 3 3
Households) 191 (4.0c 112 (55.2? 1i1 (54.74 24(11.8%) 43 (1.2%)
aNumber who ever consume this product.
Among the other foods consumed with a relatively high frequency
in many households areas sour cream (crema), often served with black
beans; salt, which is applied liberally to tortillas; rice; greens
(hierbas); other vegetables including tomatoes, onions, chile peppers,
potatoes, squash, yucca, cabbage, and beets; noodles; hot cereal made
with milk and sugar; and a wide variety of fruits grown locally,
including plantains and bananas, mangos, oranges, pineapples, papaya,
coconuts, avocados, and lemons (for beverages and seasoning).
Coffee and atol (a tea made from corn) are the mast common hot
beverages. Milk is consumed mainly with hot cereal (mush) at the
morning meal. Cold beverages, drunk mainly'at the noon meal, include
lemonade and fresco (a "cool ade" made from ,fruit syrup or crushed
An idea of the range of goods available to the parcela
residents can be gained from Table 23. It summarizes the commodities
sold at the Nueva Concepci6n and La Maquina markets, giving the fall,
1969, prices for these goods, as well as the prices at the largest
market in the country, the Terminal Market in Guatemala City, For
goods needed between market visits, the colonists shop at local stores
(tiendas) which are dispersed throughout the colonies and are an added
source of income on some parcels. Goods are generally higher-priced
at the tiendas than at the main markets. There were tiendas on 11
parcelas in the sample.
GOODS AVAILABLE IN THE LA MAQUINA AND NUEVA CONCEPCION MARKETS, 1969,
WITH PRICES COMPARED TO THE PRICES IN THE TERMINALL MARKET, GUATEMALA CITY
Item La Maquina Nueva Concepci6n Termiial Market
Black beans .11
Coffee (whole bear .25
Brown Sugar .15
Vegetable Lard .1;
Vegetable Oil .50
.10 per head
.2C per dozen
,08 for 15-18
.10 per lb.
-.14 per lb.
.01 for 2
..30 per gal.
.25 for 6 bars
.50 per yd.
.25 per 3 yd.
-.- per Ieb.
.36 per doze:
.15 for 9
.10 per lb.
.10 per lb.
.25 per gal.
.25-.50 per lb.
.02-.20 per head
.20 per dozen
.05 for 9
.15 per lb.
.15 per dozen
.10 per lb.
.24 per gal.
.35-.50 per yd.
.10 per yd.
In 87 households in the sample (42.8 per cent) a visit to a
coastal market of substantial size was made at least once a week. In
almost all of the remaining households such a visit was made at least
once a month, and often bi-weekly. The markets outside the colonies
which were visited most often were in the towns of Escuintl4i'Puerto
San Jose, Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa, Cocales, Tiquisate, Santo Domingo
Suchitepequez, Mazatenango, Retalhuleu, and Coatepeque. The market in'
Urban Center 1 of Nueva Concepci6n was also counted as a coastal market
of substantial size. In the case of some more remote parcelas, a
round-trip bus fare between home and market might cost as much as
1.00 per person; most commonly the round-trip bus fare was V0.50 to
(0.80 per person.
Table 24 shows Guatemalan literacy data based on the findings
of the 1964 census. For persons aged 7 and over the rural literacy
rate was 22.2 per cent. For urban dwellers the rate was 63.8 per cent,
and for rural and urban populations combined the rate was 36.7 per cent.
By comparison.(Table 25) the literacy rate in the colonies (for 1,301
people aged 7 and over in the 203 sampled households) was 42.1 per cent.
This rate compares favorably with the national rural literacy rate;
moreover, it is higher than the literacy rate for the nation as a whole.
However, there were few permanent Indian residents in the colonies
the national literacy rate for Indians in 1964 was only 13.3 per cent.
Both in the colonies and nationally, the highest literacy rate
is generally for persons aged 15 to 24. Young children (aged 7 to 14)
have a low rate mainly because those children aged 7 to 10 are often
RATES OF LITERACY IN THE REPUBLIC
OF GUATEMALA, BY %, FOR URBAN AND RURAL,
FEMALE POPULATIONS, AGES 7 AND OVER
NON-INDIAN AND INDIAN, MALE AND
% of Population Literate
'Age Group Republic Urban Rural Non-Indian Indian Male Female
7-14: 34.0 60.4 21.1 48.8 13.9 36.1 31.8
15-24: 42.8 71.9 27.1 62.1 16.8 48.3 37.6
25-34: 40.4 68.8 25.2 60.8 24.7 48.0 33.0
35-44: 35.3 63.0 20.3 54.3 11.4 42.0 28.6
45-54: 33.1 58.2 17.8 50.6 8.8 40.4 25.7
55 & Over: 27.9 50.8 12.6 44.6 6.2 32.4 23.4
Total: 36.7 63.8 22.2. 54.5 13.3 41.8 31.8
Source: Guatemala, Direccion General de Estadlstica, Censo 1964 Poblaci6n,
RATES OF LITERACY AND SCHOOL ATTENDANCE AMONG 203 HOUSEHOLDS IN 4 GROUPS OF PARCELAMIENTOS, BY AGE GROUP
Small Eastern Nueva La Small Western
Colonies ConcepciOn Maquina Colonies Totals
Age Group (1)a (2)b (1)a (2)b (1)a (2)b (1)a (2) b (1) (2)b
7-14: 50.6 61.2 30.5 53.9 38.4 48.2 31.5 39.3 37.0 50.7
15-24: 74.3 12.9 39.0 7.6 45.9 3.1 53.7 6.3 51.4
25-34: 60.0 47.4 42.0 36.5 44.6
35-44: 33.3 39.0 29.7 38.9 35.5
45-54: 45.8 41.4 50.0 44.4 45.3
55 & Over: 7.7 22.6 56.0 21.1 29.6
Total: 53.7 .36.3 42.2 40.3 42.1
7-24: 61.3 34.3 41.9 42.9 43.7
25 & Over: 40.5 39.2 42.8 36.6 39.7
aColumn (1) gives rates of literacy.
bColumn (2) gives rates of school attendance.
considered too little to go to school, the school being too far or the
roads too dangerous. In the rural areas a child may not learn reading
and writing skills until the age of 11, 12, or even older. The rate of
literacy for the 7 to 14 year olds in the sample was 37 per cent; for
15 to 24 year olds it was 51.4 per cent.
Many, though by no means all, of the 15 to 24 year olds were
educated in the colonies. Comparing them with oJder groups, it can be"
maintained that the school program is meeting its minimum goal to
give basic reading and writing skills to a higher percentage of the
children in the colonies than there are literate adults. An important
exception to this generalization is Nueva ConcepciSn, where the respec-
tive literacy rates were 39.per cent for the 15 to 24 year olds, but
39.2 per cent for the group 25 and older. In La Maquina, also, very
little progress was shown toward improving the literacy rate, the rate
for 15 to 24 year olds being 45.9 per cent, ahd for those 25 and older,
42.8 per cent.
Some reassurance is given by the figures for school attendance.
For the 7 to 14 year olds in all the colonies combined, the rate of
school attendance was 50.7 per cent--nearly 14 percentage points above
the literacy rate. This school-attendance figure is approximately
equal to the literacy rate for the 15 to 24 year olds. This suggests
that the somewhat favorable literacy rate for the young adults in the
colonies will be maintained in the short run, if only the children will
stay in school.
There were 76 households in the sample where at least one child
did not attend school. Of these, 30 reported that their children's
work was needed on the parcela. Aroth:! .:,: households gave one of the
related responses that the school was too far, the road too dangerous,
or the child too little (or without a companion to accompany him or
her). Program planners attempted to locate enough schools in the
colonies to insure that every parcela would have access to ai least a
rancho-styled school. However, it is true that the schools tend to be
concentrated in the urban centers of the colonies. Many colonists view
the schools as too inaccessible. ,
Seven of the 76 households responded that a school had no\
teacher or that he or she had neglected a student or was of "mal
car&cter" ("bad character"). Without question the rural education pro-
76 HOUSEHOLDSs REASONS FOR NON-ATTENDANCE AT SCHOOL BY 1 OR
Reason for Non-attendance Number of Cases
1. Needed for work on the parcela . .30 <
2. School too fart bad road or
children "too little" . . .22
3. Lack of (or "bad character" of)
teacher a0 00a a0 aa 7
a4. Siteacher . . . 7
4. Sickness * * * 5 -
5. Poverty *.... . . 5
6. Other . . . . 7
TOTAL . 76
gram in many countries of Latin America has been hampered by the unwil-
lingness of many urban-trained teachers to suffer the hardships and
loneliness of a rural post. However, there were very few instances
where a school did not have a teacher for a long period of time. Some-
times a teacher commuted to a colony from a coastal town such as Maza-
tenangol more commonly he or she resided in the colony. Most were
young and would be likely to move on to a "better" position after a
year or two of service in a parcelamiento. Probably the biggest
Problem for the teachers is, paradoxically, an overcrowded classroom.
Students with varied ages and achievement levels meet in the same room,
and attention to individual students' needs can be expected to be
Sickness among the children and "poverty" (generally meaning an
inability to provide the children with good clothing and the school
supplies which the family itself must buy) were tied in fourth place
among the reasons for non-attendance. Finally, there were some miscel-
laneous responses such ass the children didn'tt want to learn"; the
family had just arrived in a colony; archild who had attended school
"didn't learn"; and, finally, a step-mother did not send the children
Only in the largest colonies--and then only in the urban
centers--do the schools go beyond grade 31 in no case do they go beyond
grade 6. In a few instances, a family sent its children to school out-'
side of the colonies--to one of the larger coastal towns or even to
Antigua, a center of private schools, In most cases this was possible
because the family had relatives living in the town. For the vast
majority of parcelamiento children only a rudimentary education was
possible. One encouraging sign was the development of evening adult
literacy classes in several colonies.
n his an h follo section Srattetri otsgIvehsto-th
extet of oh cial fm g in te c onie ./A-ne-measure-of
commerRcialization. Twelve members of the sample (5.9 per cent) owned a
tractor; in addition, 128 (63 per cent) rented a tractor for certain
operations. However, the majority of tasks performed during the farming
season are carried out by manual labor. Clearing the land and burning
off vegetation are done before the onset offthe April-May rains. They
are followed by plowing and harrowing, the operations most commonly
performed by tractor. Sowing the fuego ("fire," or first-planqing)
corn comes several weeks after burning the dried vegetation and is
most commonly done by hand using a planting stick. A resowing occurs
about 2 weeks later to replace the seeds which have not germinated.
Weeding occurs twice, within a month of planting and again a month
later. It is generally done by hand using a machete. In August, when
the corn ears are fully developed, an operation know as the dobla is
performed, the stalk is bent downwards at a point just belowlthe ear,
"./. with the object to interrupt the circulation of sap and
accelerate maturation by this, and at the same time to protect the
grain from rainfall 19
grain from rainfall. .. .
When the ears of corn are sufficiently dried the harvest takes place.
The corn is then husked, after which further drying takes place. Fin-
ally, the grain is removed from the cob, either by hand after pounding
the dried ears, or by a machine called the desgranadora, a mill worked
by hand. The grain is then poured into 100-pound-capacity sacks for
storage and marketing.
If there is a segunda, or second growing season, the procedure
is repeated with planting taking place in August-September between the
rows of maturing corn. In rare instances a third planting (the humedad)._
was possible early in the calendar year; generally this occurs only in
low-lying areas too moist for cultivation during the rainy season.
A study under the auspices of the University of San Carlos
(1966) itemizes the cost of producing one cuerda (one-sixth manzana) of
corn in the case of parcelamiento La Maquina as follows t
1. clearing .. 1.45
2. burning . 1.64
3. plowing . 2.19
4. sowing .. .54
5. cultivating .. 1.13
6. doubling . .- .55
7. harvest . 1.12
8. shelling .58
Total cost V9.20
The study found that the average yield of corn in quintales (one-
hundred-pound sacks) in the first growing season was 3.28 per cuerda.
This means that the average cost of producing one quintal was V2.80,
Guatemala, Universidad de San Carlos, Escuela de Ciencias
Econ6micas de Occidente, Parcelamiento La Maquina (Quezaltenangot
Institute de Investigaciones Economicas y Sociales de Occidente, 1968),
with an additional cost of 0o.03 for seed. This compares with the
price received for a quintal of corn on the wholesale market (1969) of
If a parcelario hired workers for all the hand operations
performed during the farming season, he would be operating At a loss.
In fact, as noted, jornaleros are hired regularly on 144 parcels (71
per cent of the sample), A profit is possible because of the labor
expended by the parcelario and his own household. For those, who own a
tractor the profit is doubly great since an income can be earned from
In 125 cases (61.5 per cent of the sample) farmers reported the
use of insecticides or herbicides 53 farmers reported the use of
fertilizers. However, few farmers can afford to purchase enough of
these farming aids to use them thoroughly and scientifically. By the
criteria of pesticide or fertilizer use, just as for -trator--rentl, it
must be concluded that generally subsistence patterns prevail.
Tables 17 and 18 indicated the importance of cattle-raising,
particularly in the eastern colonies. In the sample from the small
eastern colonies there were 18 households (48.6 per cent of the group
interviewed) who sold milk and/or cheese to middlemen on a frequent
(usually daily) basis. Fifteen households (23.4 per cent) in Nueva
Concepci6n engaged in dairying.
There appeared to be a trend toward cattle-raising in the
parcelamientos in the late 1960's. This may be due in large measure to
the encouragement of livestock-rearing by the credit agencies
(particularly the Servicio Cooperativo Interamericano de Credito
AgrIcola, S.C.I.C.A.S.). The latter was promoting loans for the
purchase of good breeding stock in 1967 and earlier, A number of
colonists--when asked, "What plans do you have for improvingyour farm?"--
responded that they would like to fence in their land and plant good
pasture, and ultimately purchase a few head of cattle.
However, the problems in cattle-raising are as serious as those
in grain production. During the rainy season, when access roads are in
their poorest condition, filled milk containers cannot be collected by
the wholesalers from many farms. During the dry season, water and
pasture shotages can be severe. Prices, which range from a low of 6
cents per liter of milk in the rainy season to 8 cents per liter in the
dry season when production is lowest, are no more favorable than prices
for the staple grains.
Some strides toward modernizing production have been made.
However, such measures as introducing good dairy- and beef-cattle
strains and sowing high-protein grasses still remain subordinate to a
basically subsistence pattern. Illnesses among the cattle, infrastruc-
tural deficiencies, and low prices all handicap the small producer in
,1., '*o .". .* T) .- ; : i .:! r, i: -.,i. *I ; ,,
.]! ,^: i:" '. r." ,;'.' "
..2, tlUpil'.rd or dry rice
growinUg In Moncterrey,
-T. An inurAdatc;d field, ith
cattle g ,ring in the
Crop Diversification ,
A majority of the parcela families depend on corn or cattle
raising for their livelihood. However, the.:e are some other important
income sources which fall readily into the classification "cash crops."
These are sesame, an oilseed crop; sugar cane; and kenaf, a fiber crop.
Several other crops (rice, sorghum, plantains, and yucca) are staples
in the domestic market and can be sold as readily--but for as low a
The cash crops have a definite advantage over the staples in
terms of per-manzana earnings. The greatest problem is their insecure
market. In the case of sugar cane, only those parcel owners who are
close to a large mill have an assurance that their crop can be sold.
Even for these farmers the price for their crop is precarious the
.small producer is the first to be excluded from the market when the big
producers meet their quotas. In both El Caj6n and Guatal6n there were
instances where a farmer sold some of his cane "under a contract" for
V6,00 per ton, but the remainder for only V1.00 to V3.00 per ton.
One seldom finds a parcelario planting more than a few manzanas
to sesame or kenaf. He knows the vulnerability of crop prices from
"difficult experience. His present orientation to staple crops is a
rational response to his situation. A corn crop which cannot be sold
for a profit on the market can, in any event, insure a family's
In the case of fruit, production is ubiquitous in the rural
areas. Thus, there is little monetary gain to the parcelarios from
this source. In some cases, watermelons, tomatoes, oranges, pineapples,
or cantelopes were marketed. In addition, there were 5 parcelas where
the starchy banana or plantain was the main source of income.
The problem of low wholesale prices to the farmers in the
parcelamientos is serious. In many ways they are captives of the
truckers (camionistas) who provide the essential service of carrying
the produce to market. Despite some government attempts to set a mini-
mum corn price and buy surpluses, the problems of seasonally fluctuat-
ing, and generally extremely low, prices persist. This is especially
true in the case of the basic grains corn and rice.
The truckers are generally willing to pay the farmers approxi-
mately 75 to 85 per cent of the value of the grain when it is sold to a
retailer. An interview held with a camionista looking for grain in
parcelamiento El Reposo (October, 1969) reveals the problems as well as
advantages of the marketeer. The camionista owned a 1968-model, diesel
truck with a capacity for approximately 200 quintales of grain. The
truck had cost him '8,000. He considered that it would be serviceable
for 4 years given some repairs and up to 10 years with steady repairs.
Twice.a week the truck ascended and descended the paved road between
the Pacific lowlands and Guatemala City (the latter at 5,000 feet in
elevation). For most of the time spent in the lowlands it traveled
over rural roads of poor quality.
For yellow corn the camionista paid V2.50 per quintal. For
white corn (rarer in the colonies) he paid Q'2.601 for rice, 93.25. He,
and his assistants marketed 150 to 200 quintales of grain in the
capital twice a week. There they received 93.15 for yellow corn, V3.25
for white corn, and V3.90 to V4.00 for rice. The round-trip diesel gas
cost was '13.00. Pay to the driver of the truck was 92.50 per day plus
food. Two other assistants were paid .1,00 per day plus food. The
owner marketed grain from August to January, and firewood and-lumber
for the rest of the year.
Given a potential weekly income of V150 for the 2 round-trips
(even when the cost of fuel and salaries is deducted), the camionista
is in a very favored economic position. This is true even when the
major investment in a truck and its repair is taken into consideration.
However, the service he provides through his willingness to develop a
marketing expertise and assume the risks of a wholesaler is indispen-
sable at present to the colonists.
The attractiveness of the colonies to the grain marketeers can
be seen in the caravan of trucks which enter and leave each colony
(notably La Maquina and Nueva Concepci6n) during the harvest season.
At the check-point in La Maquina where all cargo leaving the colony is
recorded, the following departures were listed for .September 22, 1969:
1. to Mazatenango: 12 trucks--1,195 quintales of grain
2. to Guatemala City: 7 trucks--670 quintales
3. to Retalhuleu: 5 trucks--506 quintales
4. to Cuyotenango: 4 trucks--267 quintalos
5. to Quezaltenango: 2 trucks--250 quintales
6. to Santa Cruz del Quich5: 2 trucks--228 quintales
7. to Sololsa 2 trucks--215 quintales
8. to Chimaltenangol 2 trucks--167 quintales
Other departures in the month of September had .been to Antigua, Chichi-
casteanango, San Antonio SuchiteApquez, Escuintla, Coatepeque, Samayac,
and Huehuotenango. The fincas of the piedmont, as well as the town
markets, are looking for grain about this time.
Some thought has been given by the administration and the
colonists to the idea of marketing cooperatives. However, the exper-
ience of many colonists with cooperatives has not been encouraging.
Only about half the colonists interviewed considered cooperatives a
good idea, and many fewer actuAlly belonged to a cooperative or other
type of organization,
According to the colonization office in Guatemala City, 8
colonies have cooperatives. These areas Nueva Concepcion with 21 La
Maquina with 2; and La Blanca, El Reposo, El Cajin, Los Angeles, Cuyuta,
and Santa Isabel, each with one. In addition there were 9 "associa-
tions" in the colonies being studied, including 4 in Nueva Concepci6n
where this form of organization is being most strongly promoted and
one apiece in Santa Fe, Monterrey, Santa Isabel, Cuyuta, and El Caj6n.
There were also a number of farmers' committees (comitgs) and peasant
leagues (ligas campesinas) in the parcelamientos administered by
Up to now, the main purposes of these veeoeparea organizations
have been to purchase insecticides and fertilizers wholesale and to
obtain a better price in marketing. However, some of the organizations
appear to have become caught up in the age-old system of patronage
whereby men with "influence" or "connections" .----
have been elected to positions of leadership by a willing group of
followers, The-net result can be substantial benefits to the leaders
through their positions of power, while the rank and file membership
finds its position little changed.
There were frequent comments in the interviews of a bad exper-
ience with cooperatives. However, extension workers and local colon-
ists appeared.in 1969 to be making a new effort to develop effective
types of organization. There were "line-chiefs" (jefes de lass lfneas)
on each of the secondary access roads in Nueva Concepci6n. The
association movement in particular was flaking headway, although no
heavy equipment such as tractors or cargo trucks had yet been purchased.
Problems Recognized by the Colonists
Near the end of each interview the respondent was asked
"What is the biggest problem in this colony?" Unless the answer was
immediate, a list of possible problems was read. In most cases the
respondent chose one or more from this list. Some respondents chose a
problem other than those mentioned. In rare cases the response was,
"No hay problems" ('There aren't any problems").
The problem most often cited was a poor road system. Out of
203 responses, 97 (47.8 per cent) chose this as the chief problem.
Access roads were mentioned as some degree of a problem by 39 other
respondents. For some farmers, a collapsed culvert or dilapidated
bridge meant that trucks could not approach their farm. In other cases
the roadway itself became a mire at the height of the rainy season in
August-September when a great deal of corn and rice is ready to be
marketed. Farmers in such situations must use horses and mules to
back-pack their grain to a point accessible to truck traffic. This
obviously does not encourage a farmer to apply his resources to
The second most frequently cited problem was inundations. This
was reported as the main problem by 25 respondents (12.3 percent) and
was considered some degree of a problem by 46 others. In third place
was insect infestation, the primary problem for 21 respondents (10.3
per cent) and mentioned as some degree of a problem by 12 others. As
in the case of poor access roads, these are problems which could be
conquered by technology with proper allocation of funds.
Inundations are an especially serious problem in Nueva Concep-
cion and Los Angeles. In the former colony funding was being arranged
in 1969 for the construction of more elaborate and effective drainage
works. Insect infestation is recognized as a farming problem through-
out the lowlands, and the plantations of this region have become a
primary target of insecticide salesmen. As has been noted, in the
colonies the application of insecticides is spotty due mainly to the
cost factor. The net result is serious corn-worm infestation on many
if not most parcelas. In Nueva Concepcion often a corn crop is not
'planted in the "segunda" because the insect problem seems to be greatest
at this time of year. The fact that a number of colonies are bordered
by capital-intensive farms (especially cotton farms) where heavy doses
THE COLONISTS IN 4 GROUPS OF COLONIES
Insect Need for School
Infestation Potable Water Problems
,Colony Group (1)a (2)D (l)a (2) (,)a (2)b (1)" (2)" (1) (2)u (1)a (2)L
Colonies 29.7 45.9 8.1 13.5 10.8 29.7 2.7 5.4 27.0 37.8
Nueva ConcepciSn 51.6 68.8 26.6 62.5 9.4 12.5 3.1 4.7 3.1 4.7 7.8 15.6
La Maquina 48.3 76.7 5.0 23.3 11.7 20.0 3.3 8.3 8.3 15.0 20.0 48.3
Colonies 57.1 69.0 4.8 28.6 19.0 31.0 2.4 2.4 9.5 14.3 33.3
Totals 47.8 67.0 12,3 35.0 10.3 16.3 4.4 9.9 3.9 8.9 16.3 33.0
gives the percentage who considered the problem their main one.
gives the percentage who considered the problem some degree of a problem.
: j -(. .
i're on the main access
road. to La- Daquinr.
(This section of the
rod. has been paved
24., Cargo trucks imrpeded iby
of insecticides are applied may mean that the colonies become a haven
for insects. The extensive corn monoculture in the colonies leads-to
the flourishing of certain types of insects.
The other main problems which the respondents cited were the
need for potable water (a concern expressed often in Montifar)"and
problems related to the school system such as the distance to a school,
the poor quality of the facility, the absence of a teacher, etc. In
the category of "other problems" were low prices, illness or a poor
clinic facility, the dryness of a parcela (indicating it was on high
ground relative to the surrounding farms), lack of electricity (which
is supplied only in the urban centers and from 6:00 p.m. to about
11100 p.m.), deficient credit services, and "lack of organization."
There were a number of other concerns cited only once or twice.
Until 1970 there were two main sources of credit to the
parcelarioss the National Agrarian Bank, which was started during the
Arbenz reforms and S.C.I.C.A.S., 60 per cent of whose loans went to
the farmers in the parcelamientos. These two credit sources, along
with the Institute for Development of Production (I.N.F.O.P.), have now
merged to form the'National Bank for Agricultural Development (Banco
Nacional de Desarrollo Agricola, BANDESA).
Each parcelario has received some form of long-term, low-
interest loan since his farm was granted under the provision that it be
paid for in yearly installments over a 10-year period. The farms are
generally valued at 6600 to s1,000 for 28 manzanas. In the cases of
Nueva Concepci6n and La Maquina where precise records could be obtained
from the credit agencies, only 13 households of the 124 in the sample
had completely canceled their land debt by 1969, however. Sixteen
households had made no payment on their land whatsoever. Only a
minority in both colonies had canceled as much as one-half of the debt
for their land.
As previously noted, housing loans have also been obtained by
many families. In addition loans are available for the purchase t of-
farm machinery, cattle and other livestock, fencing material, and the
most basic production necessities including seed, fertilizers, and
insecticides. In the 203-member sample there were 73 farmers who owed
more than V1,000 in total debts (including debts for land and housing).
This statistic is based on the farmers' own reports. The true number
"with heavy debts may be greater.
The amount of credit available to the parcelarios is very great
by Latin American standards. However, laxity about adhering to repay-
ment schedules may mean that loans will be less accessible in the
Monetary Farm Tncom -
The foregoing sections indicate that subsistence farming is
very widespread in the colonies. Thi4 is true the cri of
f g methods, cro i ersific/atio-, mar./oting ttei/, aad jor
roble recogni d by/the c oni s. early e rcclam len os ha oe
not y t broke free of t typic 1 al sub, st ce patted so wi e-
<-- However, commercialization is not wholly absent, frm-the
.aoloniee. As a summation of the indices of subsistence versus commer-
cial farming, the author has calculated annual monetary income for
each of the parcela households in 1969. Three categories of annual
monetary income have been established (1) the poverty category (V400
or less in income); (2) the moderately well-off category (V401 to
i1,000 in income); and (3) the commercial-farmer category (over V1,000
in income). Though somewhat arbitrary, those categories have some
basis in objective reality. The average peasant worker in Guatemala
earns V1.00 per day and thus has an income below V400 .per year. Only
the V1,001 and higher income group was viewed as having the ability to
make investments to better their way of life. The middle category
Indicates "a standard of living better than is generally experienced by
the Guatemalan peasant," but a living standard below the middle class.
Annual monetary income was computed for each of the 203 house-
holds based on September, 1969, harvest data and any other income
reported for the preceding year. All types of income sources were
included crop sales, dairy-product and livestock sales, jornalero
work, land- or tractor-rental, and any other agricultural or non-
An "exact amount" of income was computed for every household.
However, this computation was used only to place the household in one
of the three broad income categories outlined above. The author con-
cluded that the questionable accuracy of some data did not peinlit a
more specific income statement than this.
Three types of data were collected which allowed three separate
calculations of income: (i) the direct statement of the parcelario as
to his income, which could seldom be made spontaneously and without a
qualification such as, ?Just enough to cover expenses--we don't keep a
careful record"i (2) the parcelario's statement as to his main expendi-
tures, such as the amount paid for tractor rental, jornaleros' wages,
and weekly marketing and (3) the itemized listing obtained at each
parcela oft (a) the amount of grain and other crops sold, (b) the
number of liters of milk sold, (c) the number of head of cattle, hogs,
etc., sold, and (d) the amount earned from any non-agricultural source
such as a store, a pension, etc. When a large discrepancy arose
between these three figures, as it often did, the third type of data
was considered the most complete and reliable.21
21The farmer's personal estimate of the household income was
generally low compared to the other calculations; the expenditures he
reported were generally in excess of the other two income figures.
Computation (3) generally yielded a middle figure and was considered to
be the most objective and accurate.
Household income rather than per capital income has been tabu-
lated because on balance it was taken to be more meaningful. A house-
hold with many members and a low income might be considered poorer than
a small, low-income family. However, the larger household would
consume more farm produce. There is a "diminishing cost" foreach
additional household member, 10 together living more cheaply than two
5-member households. Moreover, the very small households commonly rely
on paid employees including housekeepers and field-hands--the latter
deriving their support mainly from the farm owner.
Colony-by-colony tabulations of household income are shown in
Table 28. Ninety-one households (44.8 per cent) are in the lowest
income category; 69 (34 per cent) in the middle category; and 43 (21.2
per cent) in the highest category. Of the,43 "commercial farmers,"
11 had exceptionally high incomes of over 2,000.
The table indicates that low-income households predominated in
Sebtors F and G of Nueva Concepciorit Sectors A and B of La Maquinal
Monterreyl Caballo Blanco and Santa Fe and El Rosario, These findings
roughly parallel the findings for housing, diet, and literacy. In all
other colonies or sectors of colonies at least 50 per cent of the
householdss were in the riddle and high income categories. It can be
noted that the colonies with extensive cattle-raising are generally
better off in income. The higher incomes in Sectors C and D of La
Maquina are generally derived from mechanized grain production.