Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 List of Tables
 List of Illustrations
 The parcelamientos: Background...
 The colonists: Backgrounds and...
 The colonies: Social and economic...
 Summary and conclusions
 Appendix I. The questionnaire...
 Appendix II. Municipal birthplaces...
 Appendix III. The chi-square tests...

Title: Pioneer farmers in Guatemala
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080885/00001
 Material Information
Title: Pioneer farmers in Guatemala
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Rose, Susan O.
Spatial Coverage: North America -- Guatemala
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Bibliographic ID: UF00080885
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 183634207

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
        Page i
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
        Page iv
    List of Tables
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
    List of Illustrations
        Page viii
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
    The parcelamientos: Background of the program
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
    The colonists: Backgrounds and demographic characteristics
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
    The colonies: Social and economic conditions
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
    Summary and conclusions
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
    Appendix I. The questionnaire form
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
    Appendix II. Municipal birthplaces of 203 heads of families
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
    Appendix III. The chi-square tests of association
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
Full Text
b(rKo 25


A STU_'Y OF IE-Vi,02',

'."OPJlsl rl!.~.




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

Robert Lewis.

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

especially profound.

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.


Chapter Page


The Pacific Lowlands
The Parcelamicntos
The Plan of the Study -


The Indian West
The "Oriente" or Eastern Region
The Northern Lowlands
The Pacific Lowlands
The Parcelamientos of the Pacific Lowlands-


A Classification System
The Colonies as Socio-economic Melting Pots
Residential Stability of the Colonists
An Overview of the Parcela Demography


Farm Size and Land Use
The Main Sources of-Farm Income
Farming Techniques
Crop Diversification
Cooperative Organizations
Problems Recognized by the Colonists
Monetary Farm Income







SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY .......... . ... 123'

GLOSSARY. .. . .. .. 130


Table Page

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









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

been founded.

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
government attention.

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.

The I'arcelamientos

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

infrastructure, etc.

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,

The questionnaires

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-
off farms.
(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 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.

. *




/ II,
/" :, J *a ^




scale in miles


12. EL fIROCGB30





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

Indian communities.

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),
p. 6.

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

Chlquimula -9.1
Jalapa -12.6%
Jutiapa -6.4%
Progreso -21.4%
Santa Hosa -10.6
Zacapa -16.0%

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

and 1970'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

tropical lowlands.

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

TABLE ',2..

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.

Sa ^

o~o^^ ,0^-, ,b;Ld ('' i h -0) ~cni-,-~



0 '0


Nuevc Concepcion

0Doe from0CA A. od lDS

'b.. C.nt
*n. vI //y Pro p t y,-
/" /

/Ad,4 / oo
,IN 'od,

P 7 I eO .. .

.) ,EMAPL' 3: NUE, "",,

POC >e Oceon --- Ar4 ***L*


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.





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,


O 50
scale in milqs








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

Indian region.

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.



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

Small Eastern
Colonies (37
Interviews) 6 (16.2%) 3 (8.1%) 7 (18.9%) 11 (29.7%) 10 (27.0%)

Nueva ConcepciSn
(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%)

Small Western
Colonies (42
Interviews) 6 (14.3%) 2 (4.8%) 20 (47.6%) 7 (16.7%) 4 (9.-) 3 (7.1%)

All-colony Totals
(203 Interviews)

o5 (24.61)

35 (17.2%)

15 (7.4%)

51 (25.1%)

21 (10.3o)

31 (15.3%)

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.





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

Agricultural !
La1nd owner

.!FCo worker'


Under 18

No data

column (1)

bColumn (2)

2 12
6 7

1 1

2 1

TOTALS 203 .203 35 35 15 15 51 51 21 21 50 50 31 31



indicates how

the heads

the heads

of families


first employed.
t i

of families were employed just before colonization.







Percentage Who Engaged in Each Type of Work

Non Agri- UFCo
Farm cultural Worker
Background Operator Jornalero Worker

Western-highland Lad-
inos (35 colonists) 54.3 40.0 42.8 14.3
Western-highland Indians
(15 colonists) 40.0 60.0 26.7 6.7
South-coast Ladinos
(51 colonists) 41.2 54.9 23.5 11.8
South-coast Indians
(21 colonists) 38.1 61.9 9.5 -
Eastern-highland Ladinos
(50 colonists) 74,0 38.0 20.0 28.0
Eastern-lowland Ladinos
(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

4- 33

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

characteristics -J.t1d-"'.s-atu"eu.

(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



Age Group

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.



% 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

I~ _


(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-

tion effort.

TABLE .23-


% Care-takers
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


Residential Stability
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.



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
Parcela Demography

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



Parcela Resident
For 10 Years First to Own Present Non- Earlier Non-
Or More Parcela Parcelario Status Parcelario Status

Colony Group No. % No. % No. % No. %

Small Eastern
Colonies (37 Heads
of Households)
Nueva ConcepciSn
(64 Heads of
La Maquina (60
Heads of House-
Small Western
Colonies (42 Heads
of Households)

All-colony Totals
(203 Heads of

12 32.4

34 53.1

18 30.0

29 69.0

22 59.5

34 53.1

30 50.0

28 66.7

4 4 -.-- Y I ~ ~

4 10.8

6 9.4

9 15.0

4 9.5

7 18.9

23 35.9

23 38.3

11 26.2

114 56.2

23 11.3

93 45.8

64 31.5

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


Household types

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

extended families.

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

TABLE 2-6-


Type of Household

Nuclear with
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

All-colony Totals
(203 Households) 89 43.8 17 8.4 26 12.8 71 35.0




Household Size

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

All-colony Totals
(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

Colony Group 0 1 2 3 4 5 Total Total Land Rented

Small Eastern
Colonies (37
Parcelas) 18 10 7 1 1 32 15-16 manz., 1 cuer.
Nueva Concepci6n
(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.
Small Western
Colonies (42
Parcelas) 24 9 7 2 31 49 manz.

All-colony Totals
(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 Jornaleros

Colony Group 0 1-3 4-6 Over 6
Average Number
No. % No. % No. % No. % Totals Per Farm

Small Eastern
Colonies (37
Parcelas) 12 32.4 11 29.7 9 24.3 3 13.5 121-129 c. 3
Nueva Concepcion
(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
Small Western
Colonies (42
Parcelas) 14 33.3 16 38.1 10 23.8 2 4.8 119-125 c. 3

All-colony Totals
(203 Parcelas)

52 25.6 65 32.0 49 24.1 37



c. 4


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.




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

immediate future?

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




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

Small eastern
(37 parcelas) 28 6 3 32 3 2
Nueva Concepcion
(64 parcels) 42 21 1 48 13 3
La Maquina
(60 parcelas) 28 21 11 53 4 3
Small western
(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



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
Cotton 24
Sugar cane 30 26
Fruit 28 3
Other 20 12





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
(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
(4 parcelas)
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
(42 parcelas) 8 (19o)

TOTAL (203 parcelas)

56 (27.60%)

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~'" -"-'-- "----- ------ -----




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
Tractor rental
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.



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.



TABLE jl9-


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
author's calculations.

Estadfstica, Censo 1964, Vivienda, and


AL ~ ~

. T. Two large earther-
floored ranchos
serving as the main
living quarters.


A shaded. perir.noent
dwelling, with ccmlp..nion
ranchos, in a s:all
eastern colony.




No. with a No. with a No. with No. with
Parcelamiento Cement Floor Metal Roof a Latrine a well

Small Eastern
Colonies (37
Montafar (9)
Cuyuta (12)
Sta. Isabel
.Los Angeles
El Caj6n (6)

Nueva ConccpciSn
(64 Households)
Sectors A-E
Sectors F, G
La Maquina (60
Sectors A, B
Sectors C, D
Small Western
Colonies (42
Catallo Blanco-
Sta. Fe (9)
Elena (4)
Monterrey (11)
El Reposo (7)
El Rosario (5)
La Blanca (6)

21 (56.8%)


25 (39.14)

40 (66.7%)

18 (42.9%) ,

27 (73.0%)


46 (76.7%)

28 (66.7%)

15 (40.5%)

8 (12.%)

13 (21.7%)

15 (35.7?%)

37 (oo00%)

64 (100%)

59 (98.%)

38 (9o.5%)



Totals (203
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.


No. Who Consume Certain Foods Daily or More Often
Beef, Pork, a
Parcelamiento Beans Eggs Milk or Chicken Incaparina

Small Eastern
Colonies (37
Montdfar (9)
Cuyuta (12)
Sta. Isabel
Los Angeles
El Caj6n (6)
Nueva Concepci6n
(64 Households)
Sectors A-E
Sectors F, G
La Maquina (60
Sectors A, B
Sectors C, D
Small Western
Colonies (42

37 (o00)



26(70.2%) 9(24.3V)
8 2
7 2

58(90.6) 43 (67.2%) 47(73.%) 6(9. 4%)

11 (29.7%)
'- -2 /



17 (26.6%)


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
Caballo Blanco-
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

Total (203
Households) 191 (4.0c 112 (55.2? 1i1 (54.74 24(11.8%) 43 (1.2%)
aNumber who ever consume this product.

Other foods

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

fresh fruit).


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.




Item La Maquina Nueva Concepci6n Termiial Market

Corn C.03
Black beans .11
Sugar .08
Salt .04
Rice .10
Coffee (whole bear .25
Noodles .24
Potatoes .06
Brown Sugar .15
Vegetable Lard .1;
Vegetable Oil .50
Incaparina--packet .05
pound .20
Lime .05

per lb.
tn *
99 ft
" n
, 9,

9n 9
n n
n n
" a"

" qt.

" 21b.

03 per
.11 "
.08 'l
.04 "
.C7-.11 "
.30 "
.28 "
.10 "
.30 "
2.50 "
- .20
.05 "

Dried fish
Plastic cape
Women'1 shoes
Men's shoes
Rubber boots

.05 per

" lb.
" lb.
2 oun.

.10 per head
.2C per dozen
.20 "
.60 "
,08 for 15-18
.10 per lb.
.01 each
.01 "
-.14 per lb.
.01 for 2
..30 per gal.
.25 for 6 bars
.60-.80 each
.40-1.00 "
.50 per yd.
.25 per 3 yd.
1.80-2.00 pair
3.00-3.50 "

.40-.50 lb.
.50 "
.05 each
-.- per Ieb.

.05-.'0 per
.36 per doze:
,48 "
.10-.13 each
.15 for 9


.10 per lb.
.01 each
.03 "
.10 per lb.
not sold
.25 per gal.
.05 each

.50 per
.25 per


3 yd.

2.90 pair

.55-1.00" lb.
.55-.70 "
.05 each
.25-.50 per lb.
.02-.20 per head
.20 per dozen
.15 "
.15-.25 each
.05 for 9
.15 per lb.
.15 per dozen
.02 each
.10 per lb.
.02 each
.24 per gal.
.05 each
.60-1.00 each
.75-3.00 "
1.75-4.00 "
.35-.50 per yd.
.10 per yd.
1.50-1.60 pair
2.50-3.00 pair
2.00-3.00 "






I .



" lb.

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





% 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

and author's

Source: Guatemala, Direccion General de Estadlstica, Censo 1964 Poblaci6n,


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-





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

to school.

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.

Farming Techniques

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),
PP. 55-62.
4-0 SIbid.

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

tractor rental.

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

the colonies.


I' ''
,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

profit--as corn.

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.

Cooperative Organizations

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

increase productivity.

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



Poor Access





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

Small Eastern
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

Small Western
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

Column (1)

Column (2)


gives the percentage who considered the problem their main one.

gives the percentage who considered the problem some degree of a problem.

S 6G


. .'

: j -(. .

i're on the main access
road. to La- Daquinr.
(This section of the
rod. has been paved
,,ncv 196(9.)

24., Cargo trucks imrpeded iby
the mire.


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-

spred Guatema

<-- 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-

agricultural source.

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.

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