Pioneer farmers in Guatemala

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Pioneer farmers in Guatemala
Rose, Susan O.


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North America -- Guatemala

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This work began with a field stay in Guatemala under the

auspices of the New York Metropolitan Regional Summer Field Training XZrogram in Latin America in 1967. Additional field work was made possible in the summer and fall of 1969 by a Herbert H. Lehman'Fellowfhip 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. Chance, 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 Michael Grcenberg, Ian Manners, and Robert Lewis.

In Guatemala my field stays vore made productive by a great many people. Among the agencies to which I owe a special debt of thanks areas the Instituto Gcogrifico Nacionall the Instituto Nacional

de Transformacion Agraria; the Instituto Interamericano do Ciencias Agricolas; the Ministerio de Agricultural the Servicio Cooperativo Interamericano de Cridito Agricola Supertisado; the Peace Corps of Guatemala; 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 RodrIguez 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 CityUniversity 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

I. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . 1

The Pacific Lowlands
The Parcelamientos
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

CHARACTERISTICS . . . . . . . . 22

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











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. . . . * * *.* *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 3 . . . * * * * * * 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 . . . . 4 3 * * * *

12. Number of Households in Each of 3 Size Classifications,
by Colony of Residence . . . . 4 * * * * 4


13. Number of "Other" Fiwl. r sidly o5 203 Parcelas i Groups of Colonies, ulth Total of Land Rented from the
203 Parc as . . . . . . . . . a . . 6

14. Number of Jornaleron Hired in Peak Labor Periods on 203 Parcelas in 4 Group.; of Colonies . . . .7

15. 203 Parcelas: Amount of Land per Farm Devoted to Annual
Crops and Plantain- . . . . . . . . .

16. Extent of Land Plantcd 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 . . . . a . . . . 55

19. Material in the Floors of Dwellings for the Republic of
Guatemala, by Region . . , . . . . . 57

20. Material in the Roofs of Dwellings for the Republic of
Guatemala, by Region & * . . . . . 0 59

21. Housing Conditions for 203 Families in 15 Parcelamientos . 60

22. Frequency of Consumption of Certain Protein Foods by 203
Households in 15 Parcelamientos . . . . . . .

23. Goods Available in the La Maquina and Nueva Concepcir'n
Markets, 1969, with Prices Compared to the Prices in the Terminal Market, Guatemala City , .

.24. Rates of Literacy in-,the Republic of Guatemala, by o, or
Urban and Rural, Non-Indian and Indian, Male and Femalc
Populations, Ages 7 and Over . . . . . . a

25. Rates of Literacy and School Attendance among 203 Househol a
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 ,. , a . . . . . . a . 9 5

28. Annual Monetary Income for 203 Households in 15 Parcelamientos . . a . . . .t . . . .


:29. Income Transitions for 203 Heads of Houscholda, 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 Municipio(.s 106

31. Municipal Birthplaces for 21 Heads of Families of Southcoast 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 19 0 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 111

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



Map Page

1. Regions & Departments of Guatemala . . . . . . 10

2. Location of the 15 Parcelamientos with Respect to Towns &
Transport Routes . . . . . . . . . . . 19

3. Nueva Concepcion . . . . . . . . 20

4. Municipal Birthplaces of 101 Eastern Lowland Colonists . . 24 5, Municipal Birthplaces of 102 Western Lowland Colonists . . 25 Photograph

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 . . . . . . . . 101

11. Demonstration parcela run by a Peace Corps couple . . . 101 12. Coastal scone at Tulate . 101





This study is an inquiry into the living standard of

approximately 4,000 pioneer families who reside in 15 agricnltural colonies (parcela.miontos) in the Pacific lowlands of Guatemala.

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 prevail?

A brief review of two findings can be given. Namely,

(1) 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 subsistenceincome 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 Yucatgn 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 significance in this study it is the site of most of the parcelamientos to

be studied herein.2 For several centuries 'after the Conquest of Guatemala, 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.
2 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 hirhland.s. Today the population of the eastern Pacific lowlands is mainly "Ladino" or mixrd-blooded Spanish Amrican, Numerous Indians, of several linguistic groups, live in the western part of the lowlands. Blacks and ulattoes have disappeared as distinct groups, having inter-married with the much larger local Indiaq, and Spanish American population.

The Parcelamientos

Thero is very little precedent in Guatemala for the -tyle of the paerclanientos. 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 mais; and cotton cacao, and certain fruits. There were also coastal sottlements where salt was ovaporatod from sea wator. The lowland territories wcre apparently the object of warfare among

these and other pre-Columbian groups.

Beginning with the Barrios adninistration (1873-1885) the

Pacific region acquired some transportation infrastructure including a railroad and port facilities. These were mainly in response to developments in the coffee oconcny. The first genuine impetus to agrarimn reform in favor of the peasantry did not come until the administration of Juan Jose Arevalo (1945-1951)., His initiative in attempting to break up the large, under-prrductive estates or latifundieso- (which dominated in the lowlands and certain parts of the highlAnds) was followed, in 1952 under the administration of Jacobo Arbenz, by the law of Agrarian Reform. By 1914 oxtcnsivc expropriation of "idle lands"

(tierras ociosas) had been carried out, with much of the land redistributed 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 RuralDevelopment 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 "microparcelaniientos." 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 Concepcion 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 methodology employed in the main (1969) field work was the interview survey.

The procedure was, first, to assign a consecutive number to every eligible farm (parcela) in a given colony (parcelamiento). 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 officettir Guatemala 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 isp 5-par-cent samples acre

drawn separately for each colony) because one important objective was

to compare the colonies by certain criteria such as settlers' backgrounds, local farming technology, principal crops, social-service

infrastructure, etc.

Two stipulations iwere 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. 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 parcelas, were eliminated from the sampled universe because
their parcelas were smaller than 25 acres. Some parcelas 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 prcelas, located in 15 rarcelamienton. The

final sample consists of 203 parcelas.

The questionnaires

Interviews were held with the 203 parcels families In the

sample from early August to early Decomber, 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 trans4
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 farmers would be away for an extended tine to visit their home communities, the capital, etc. Therefore a nunbr of supplementary farms wore 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 rcvcals 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 betteroff 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 adninistrative files. The 23 non-tittled families were interviewed as the do 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 were care-takers (gurdinnes) for an absentee owner. In another 7 cases, a relative of the owner operated the farm, functioning essentially as a guardi n. In the last case, a renter operated a large share of the parcela, 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 widespread 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) migratoryand economic-background data for the head of family, and (2) data on the present living standard of the family as a wholo. 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 in 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. Moreover, 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 was supplemented by interviews with program officials and officials of other Guatemalan development agencies; by the findings of thn Guatemalan censuses-of 1950 and 196+; and by the abundant published material relating to living conditions in rural Guatemala, past and present. Some of the b.At of this material, in this author's judgment, is based on the personal-interview method.

The Plan of the Study

Chapter II presents an overvion 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 which 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 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. Guatemala's four major regions are discussed the Indian west, the "oriente" 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 Guatemala department, had an Indian majority in 1950. The population of 3 departments (Totonicapin, SololS, and Alta Verapaz) was over 90 per cent Indian. Average farm size in this region in 1950 was 11.5 manzanas (19.8 acres), ranging from 1.6 manzanas (2.5 acres) in Totonicapan department to 24.7 manzanas (42.5 acres) in Alta Verapaz. In most departments a few large estates contrasted with the general minifundismo or subdivision of already-small family plots.





2 2



0 50
scale in miles




Region & No. of Total Area Av. Farm Size
Department Farms (mans.)a (manz.)a
The West 230,025 2,649,602 11.5
Alta Verapaz 28v571 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
Hluehuotenango 32,027 343,077 10.7,
Quczaltenango 20,292 196,453 9.7 7
Quich6 26,469 289,657 10.9
Sacatep~quez 9,042 51,179 5.7
San Marcos 34,261 324,811 9.5
Sololat 13,56. 56,256 4.1
Totonicap!n 17,620 28o512 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
Progreso 5,619 125,904 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
Petn 2,206. 21,439 9.7
Tho South 32,340 1,096,667 33.9
Escuintla 10,662 649,588 60.9
Retalhulou 8,943 192,969 21.6
Suchitepequez 12,735 254,110 20,0

"A manzana (manz.) equals 1.72 acres,

Source: Guatemala, Direcci'n General de Estadistica, Conto
Agropecuario 1964, I (Guatemala, 1968), 29, and author's calculations.

In 1950 population growth was intensifying this region's

problems. Richard Appellaum who studied the Indian community of San Ildefonao Ixtahuacan, Huchuetenango, in 1965 estimated that the population growth rate in this community from 1950 to 1964 averaged

2.56 per cent per year. le 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 of-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,"6 for example), those generally produced incomes well below V150 per year. Typically, all the major businesses in the Indian communities are owned by LIdinos.

Thus, in the 1950's and earlier the Indians of Guatemala's west were soaking seasonal plantation work in other parts of the country.

5Richard P. Appalbaum, "Seasonal Migration in San Ildefonso Ixtahucan: Its Causes and Consequences," Public and International Affairs, IV, no. 1 (1966), 119.

T ubid p. 132.
7Tho Guatemalan ~jga(n') 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"Oriente"or Eastern Region

The "oriente" 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 sioe is-somewhat greater than in the weat (16.0 manzanan or 27.5 acres in 1950). However, the poverty of this region should not be minimimedt 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 duct are whipped by the wind and stirred by every moving object,"a 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 Sain Carlost A Study of a Guatemalan Community of Indians and La.dinos (New Orleans: Niiddle American Research Institute Publication 16, Tulane University, 1951), p. 6.

Less than a quarter of the land . in level. To'the west and
north, hills rise another 1,000 feet. . Except in the castern
end of the valley, the land is guebrada, 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 areoas 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 Jorge Arias based on the population census of 1950 1 Chlquimula -9.1%
Jalapa -12.6
Jutiapa -6.4%
Progreso -21.4%
Santa Hora -10.6%
Zacapa -16.%

The oriente 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

10Wright, "Literacy and Custom in a Guatemalan Peasant Ladino Community," pp. 28-30.
1Jorge Arias B., "Migraci'n intorna en Guatemala," Estudios Centroamericanos, No. 3 (Guatemala, Seminario do Integracion bSocial 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 hcre was drawn from the oriented as well as neighboring countries, especially Honduras. The average land-holding size for Izabal (54.0 manoanas 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 settlemehts in 1950, including some chicle camps and an island of relatively dense settlement at Flores and on the southern shores of Lake Petin Itza.

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.ierehf-4 r44ti -4 ofM

*94'er like Izabal departmnt ) bth e1n P he-& ew.ede;

(eat byn tu, happea iedl24mddJb 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 (nici 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 theie 'flncas, particularly for the seasonal laborers who live there only during the harvest season, has been documented in several studies.12

With regard to the pxarcelamientos 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 Parcel tentoo of
the Pacific Lowlands

The two largest parcelamiontos of the Pacific lowlands, Nueva

Concepcion 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 parcelaientos have been the former United Fruit Company lands, the properties acquired by expropriation during the Ubico administration (1931-1944), certain fincas expropriated from

See two recent studies Appolbaum, "Seasonal Migration in San Ildefonso Ixtahuacin"; 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, 1967).


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. However9 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. Ia adA M,5mes-t. r*rba'n <.tZ4r" WeOr. c .teC

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 rectangular 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


No, of Farms Size of the
Municipal Total Areab Populationc in the Sam- Interview
Parcelamiento Locationa (acres) Z1967) pled Universe Sample

Mcntifar Moyvta 31,352 10,418 181 9
Santa Isabel Pto. San Jos' 3,344 707 88 5
Cuyuta Masagua 15,531 5,66'+ 245 12
Los Angeles Pto, San Jose 5,743 1,764 104 5
El Cajin Sta. Lucia Cotz. 6,531 1,713 108 6
Nueva Concepcicn Tiquizate 85,225 34,672 1,276 64
Guatalin Rio Bravo 2,655 1,202 38 2
Santa Elea Rio Bravo 1,657 864 30 2
Monterrey Sto. Domingo 10,312 50494-. 203 11
La 1'aquina 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 Cha-perico 7,704 1,403 112 6
El Reposo cGnova 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 coastal plain.

b-ource Ross Pearson, "The Rural Development Program in Guatemala,' p. 42.

CSource: Guatemala, Instituto Nacional de Transformaci'n Agraria, EstadIsticas Amraria3. 195-1969, pp. 11-12.


ajapita ajachel Coatepeque aeAVi
Cudad Tecum Uman SataoA~lnCHIMALTENANGO/

Santo Tombis laUno

El Reo RETALHULEU uoea/ ,San Antonia Suchdrepequez ANIU GUTEAL
Ocos .utnr AZATENANGO *" Neva
La Blanca Cabsado Am'attta .
Blanco SnaLake
Fe Snta A.attlint

El osnoRio Brane Iaad PtNDEX MwP
Santa Lucia tum gap

Champerico Monterry ueblo Nuevo Tiqu saeCiNL CUILAPA TIP

El CaOd .aau Muanagazapa

La Maqumna

Cuyuta Ch qtuimul 1a
Nueva Taxico
El Porvenir twnepcik" Moyal
Los Angeles

Sipacate Puerto San Iasi Montervice




NuevC CoflCdpwl/?

Cot from D.A.A. d IDS

L -L

foe-s 0esters A,,*,

a Hopter NoNle&KProNe
A -lrt fStteRo

PO7C Ihe Ocea -- ar**L*

MAP 3: NUEVA CONCEPCION Source: Rosr, N., FeArcon, "The Rural Deve.opnment Program in Guatnnah,"
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 Cleared 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 Arrasinitiated 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 Concepcion, the largest colony in terms of population, where 64 interviews were held;

(3) La Maquina, nearly equal to Nueva Concepcion 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 contract in size between Nueva Concepcion
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 larrer colonies
have generally attracted more long-distance nigrants and a
larger "floating population" of soua.tters, renters, and daylaborers.

The Colonies as Socioeconomic .olting Pots

Maps 4 and 5 show the diversity of birthplaces of the heads of families in .the sample. Within the colonies even.neighbors are most often from different departments, and sometimes from different regions. The birthDlaces 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 parcelas once the original assignments had been made.

Social backrrouinds of
the heads 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 affirmative. 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
scal em milqs



scap eIn n Te



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 marketplaces, to acquire and keep employment, to understand local radio broadcasts, etc., introduces the neconsity 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 (29.2%) 10 (27.0%)

Nueva Concepcion
(64 Interviews) i1. (17.2%) 4 (6.3%) 9 (14.1%) -27 (42.2%) 13 (20.3%)

La Naquirna (60
Interviews) 12 (20.0%) 6 (10.0%) 15 (25.V%) 14 (23.3%) 8 (13.3%) 5 (8.3%)

Small Western
Colonies- (42
interviews) 6 (14.3%) 2 (4.8%) 20 (47.6%) 7 (16.72) 4 (9.5) 3 (7.1%)

All-colony Totals
(203 interviews) 35 (17.2%) 15 (7.4%) 51 (25.1%) 21 (10.3%) 50 (241.6%) 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 subsistence 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 nonagricultural work (for example, transport workers, craftsmen, students, construction workers, and office wor-kers). 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 economic 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 tailoring on a part-time basis.

Table 4 indicates the 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 employment (fbm 8 to 25) and the decline in land ownership (from 30 to 13), 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), (1) a majority of the heads of families of Indian background as well as the south-coast Ladinos had worked as jornaleros for some time, (2) a majority of the easterners and Ladino western highlanders 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.



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 (1)a (2)b (1)a (2)b (1)a (2)b (1)a (2)b (1)a (2)b (1)a (2)b

Jorrnalero 68 65. 6 9 8 8 24 18 12 12 9 11 9 7
Renter 45 47 8 7 2 2 12 16 6 7 14 12 3 3
Land owner 38 23 7 4 2 2 3 .1 15 5 11 11
boss CatlelrL 2 2 1 1 1 1
LF'o worker' 8 25 4 1 1 2 6 1 10 4 4
Other 2 2

Nbn-agricultural 37 35 13 9 2 2 10 10 2 1 7 9 3

Under18 1 1 1 1

No data 4 3 1 2 1 1 2

T OTAIS 203 .203 35 35 15 15 51 51 21 21 50 50 31 31

aColumn (1) indicates how the heads of families were first employed.

bdolumn (2) indicates how the heads 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 Ladinos (35 colonists) 54.3 40.0 42.8 14.3
Western-highland. Indians
(15 colonists) 4o.o 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
Eastcrn-lowlrand Ladinos
(31 colonists) 54.8 29.0 12.9 19.4


Mi,' atory backerounds 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 frQm 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

municipal in which the colonist presently resides. (Exceptions are the few colonists who were born in their present municipio of residences 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 -shet"'dd efi 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 backgrounds 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 ate1" ("bad people"). There are only incipient signs that -what ma-be-c.aled-a community spirit is beginnngtodevelop in some colonies or sectors of colonies. For example, "line chiefs" or


captains for each secondary access road had been appointed by 1969 in Nueva Concepci6n to act as liaisons with the administration. A group of parcela 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 householdsilyI

Diversity in the colonies is measured not only by the backgrounds of the heads of households but by their present-day demographic characteristics-ent-sie.s-satuses.

(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 oriente. Four of the women are parcelarias (parcela owners) in the eastern colonies, and 3 in the west. They came to be heads of households, 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 kindred, which may include married sons and daughters and their offspring, etc., all of whom share residence on, and responsibility for, the parcela, and who usually look to a single individual as the head of household.



Age Group

Colony Group 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 Over 60

Small Eastern Colonles 2.? 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.o 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 dimension 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

(4) As noted in the introduction, approximately I 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 relationship is not always one of patron and peon, with overtones of powerful status for one party and exploited status for the other. It is often true that the care-taker stands to inherit the land eve tually and become its titled owner. Nevertheless, absenteeism linked to political patrimony is a definite and pernicious facet of the colonization effort.

TABLE .2-3

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. PThie-ie-most-eommoni

eelenies. 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 thecolonies 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. Nonrelatives 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 department but in a different municipio. In one case, a wife was from El Salvador.

Residential Stability
of the Colonists

Table24 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) 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 pareclarios had lived on the parcela they now operate for 10 years or more. A majority (114 or 56.2 per cent) were the first to own their parcela. 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 fai ly common. The parcelas have not, however, in most cases, been subdivided in the process.

Table 10 also indicates that many heads of households became

paxcelarios 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 caretaker and renter population in the colonies, most of whom aspire someday 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 NonOr More Parcela Parcelario Status Parcelario Status

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

Small Eastern Colonies (37 Heads of Households) -12 32.4 22 59.5 4 10.8 7 18.9
Nueva Concepci~n (64 Heads of Households) 34 53.1 34 53.1 6 9.4 23 35.9
La Maquina (60 Heads of Households) 18 30.0 30 50.0 9 15.0 23 38.3
Small Western Colonies (42 Heads of Households) 29 69.0 28 66.7 4 9.5 11 26.2

All-colony Totals (203 Heads of Households) 93 45.8 114 56.2 23 11.3 64 31.5

huge seasonal labor flow--particularly into Nueva Concepcidn 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 experiencing a small-scale "population explosion" due to the presence of relatives (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 tabulations 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 parcela as vivientes, and (3) the number of jornaleros typically employed on the parcela at peak labor periods. Based on these tabulations it is possible 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 overcrowded 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 avoided.

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 households 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 parcelass 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 households. 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

Colony Group Nuclear Subnuclear Affines Multi-nuclear

No. % No. % No. No.

Small Eastern Colonies (37 Households) 19 51.4 4 10.8 4 10.8 10 27.0
Nueva Concepoi~n (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 Colonies (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 Colonies (37 Households) 12 32.4 20 54.0 5 13.5
Nueva Concepci~n (64
Households) 23 35.9 31 48.5 10 15.6
L.a Maquina (60
Households) 26 43.3 26 43.3 8 13.3
Small Western Colonies (42 Householda3) 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 administration in reserve areas (areas de reserva), 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 parcelarioso 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.wagework 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. Jornaleros

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 outside 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 exploiting Indians for labor on commercial-sized farms.

tiWNot included in this figure is rented pastureland (discussed in Chapter VII). Pastureland is usually rented only to fellow parcelarios.



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 Concepcion
(64 Parcelas) 43 14 6 1 29 64 manz., 3 cuer.a
La Maquina (60 a
Parcelas) 30 25 3 2 37 90 manz., 3 cuer.
Small Western
Colonies (42
Parcelas) 24 9 7 2 31 49 mans.

All-colony Totals
(203 Parcelas)a 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
A 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 throughout 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 18.2 747-821 c. 4


In the eastern colonies it is more common to recruit daylaborers 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 parcela, respectively. In the small colonies the average number recruited was approximately 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. However, 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 outstanding 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 a-nd 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 parcelamientos? What are the problems which planners must confront in the immediate future?

Farm Size and Land Use

Most farms in the sample (32.3 per cent) were 28 manzanas

(48.2 acres) -No farm was smaller than 31 acres; the largest was 112 acres (1 caballerla). 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 ("figcog") sowing exceeds by far the acreage planted to any other crop. The corn acreage planted in the

August-September ("sequda") 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 Cajon 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 consensus 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. 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 parcelas.



Aount 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 Concepci6n
(64 parcels) 42 21 1 48 13 3
La Maquina
(60 parcelas) 28 21 53 4 3
Small western
(42 parcelas) 26 13 3 38 3 1

(203 parcelas) 124 61 18 171 23 9
% J61.1 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

TOTALS 2,310-2,323 2,223-2,231


Parcelamiento No. owning 10 dr more head
Mont-ifar (9 parcelas) '6
Cuyuta (12 parcelas)
Santa Isabel (5 parcelas) 3
Los Angeles (5 parcelas) 5
El Caj6n (6 parcelas) 2
(37 parcelas) 20 (54%)
(64 parcelas) 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)
Guatalin & Santa Elena
(4 parcelas)
Monterrey (i1 parcelas) 1
Caballo Blanco & Santa Fe
(9 parcelas) 1
El Reposo (7 parcelas) 4
El Rosario (5 parcelas) 1
La Blanca (6 parcelas) SMALL WESTERN COLONIES
(42 parcelas) 8 (19o)
TOTAL (203 parcelas) 56 (27.6%)


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 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, Twentytwo 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 parcela4 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.



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
Sorghun 2 2
Yucca 2 2
Kenaf 1 1
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 peybent), 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 one-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 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 distributed.16 The cost of these amenities (j300 for the house, V60 for the ikell, and V100 for the kitchen and latrine) is generally borne through the acquisition of a loan,

16Guatemala, Instituto Nacional de Transformaci'n Agraria,
Estadisticas Agrarias, 1955-1962, 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

a5ee Map 1 for regional boundaries.

bIncluding cement, clay tile, and wood.

Source: Guatemala, Direccli6n General de EstadIstica, Censo 1964, Vivienda,
(Guatemala, 1966), and author's calculations.


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, Direccion General de Estadfstica, Censo 1964, Vivienda, and
author's calculations. Vo

A "p a l .~

e "

4.Two largen- ea-rther.flooe: di ranchos A
serving as the main
Si vin quartersrs,

.1-5. A shaded. permanent dweling, with cpan ior ranchos, In a rmaill 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
Households) 21 (56.6%) 27 (73.0%) 15 (40.5) 37 (t00)
Montafar (9) 1 4 1 9
Cuyuta (12) 10 12 8 12
Sta. Isabel
(5) 4 4 15
Los Angeles
(5) 3 1 2 5
El Caj6n (6) 3 6 3 6
Nueva Conccpci6n
(64 Households) 25 (39.1%) 25 (39.1) 8 (12.5%) 64 (100%)
Sectors A-E
(34) 19 18 6 34
Sectors F, G
(30) 6 7 2 30
La Maquina (60
Households) 40 (66.7e) 46 (76.7%) 13 (21.7%) 59 (98.3%)
Sectors A, B
(26) 14 17 6 25
Sectors C, D
(34) 26 29 7 34
Small Western
Colonies (42
Households) 18 (42.9%) 28 (66,7%) 15 (35.7%) 38 (90.54)
Catallo BlancoSta. Fe (9) 3 6 3 8
Elena (4) 2 4 2 2
Monterrey (11) 6 6 4 11
El Reposo (7) 3 6 3 6
El Rosario (5) 3 5 2 5
La Blanca (6) 1 1 1 6

Totals (203
Households) 104 (51.2%) 126 (62.1%) 51 (25.1%) 198 (97.5,)


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 parcelas have only the typical rural shelter of the lowlands, the rancho de manaco, The rancho genrally 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 parcela acquires a permanent dwelling the satellite households, vivientes, etc., almost always live in ranchos. The rancho isparticularly 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 parcela 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 explanation 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 buildingsa,.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 raisd 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 generally 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 interrelationship between such variables as diet and other variables -ewe I~E ~lZ~~y ~ ~zizns0. o the sfL&d)y.

No. Who Consume Certain Foods Daily or More Often
Beef, Pork, a
Parcelamiento Beans Eggs Milk or Chicken Incaparina
Small Eastern
Colonies ( 7
Households 37 (100%) 29 (78.4%) 26 (70.2%) 9 (24.3%) 11 (9.7%)
Montdfar (9) 9 7 8. 2
Cuyuta (12) 12 9 7 2 4
Sta. Isabel
(5) 5 5 4 3
Los Angeles
(5) 5 5 3 2
El Caj6n (6) 6 3 4 2 2
Nueva Concepci~n
(64 Households) 58 (90.6%) 43 (67.2%) 47 (73. 5) 6 (9.4%) 17 (?6.61) Sectors A-E
(34) 32 25 28 4 7
Sectors F, G
(30) 26 18 19 2 10
La Maquina (60
Households) 56 (93.3%) 24 (40. 0) 21 (35.oC) 4 (6.7%) 5 (8.3%)
Sectors A, B
(26) 22 7 4 1 2
Sectors C, D
(34) 34 17 17 3 3
Small Western
Colonies (42
Households) 4Q(95.2%) 16(38.1%) 17(40.%) 5(11.9%) 10 3.8%o)
Elena (4) 4 2 .1 1
Monterrey (11) 9 2 3 1 1
Caballo BlancoSta. 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 (94.0 112 (55. 2 111 (54.74 24 (11.8N) 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 most common hot beverages. Milk is consumed mainly with hot cereal (mush) at the morning meal. Cold beverages, drunk mainlylat 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 Concepcion 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 parcelas. 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 Concepcon Terminal Market

Corn .03 per lb. .03 per lb. V.04 per lb.
Black beans .11 11 .10 "
Sugar .03 408 o "
Salt .04 .04 .04 "
Rice .10 .C7-.11 .10 "
Coffee (whole beaj .25 .30 .30 '
Nuodles .24 .28 .20 "
Potatoes .06 10 .10 "
Brown Sugar .15 .30 2j .22 3"
Vegetable Lard .1. "? .14 "
Vegetable Oil .50 qt. 2.50 gal. .50 qt.
Incaparina--packet .05 .05 .04
pound .20 .20 .20
Lime .05 21b. .05 21b. .05 lb.
Beef .40-.50 lb. .40-.50 Ib. .55-1.00" lb.
Pork '.45-.50 lb. .50 .55-.70 "
Eggs .05 each .05 each .05 each
Dried fish .05 per 2 oun. per 1b. .25-.50 per lb.
Cabbage .10 per head .05-.'_0 Der head .02-.20 per head
Carrots .20 per dozen .36 per dozen .20 per dozen
Beets .20 .48 o .15 o
Cauliflower .60 .10-.13 each .15-.25 each
Onions .08 for 15-18 .15 for 9 .05 for 9
Apples .10 per lb. .10 per l1. .15 per lb.
Bananas .01 each .01 each .15 per dozen
Oranges .01 o .03 .02 each
Tomatoes -.14 per lb. .10 per ]b. .10 per lb.
Lemons .01 for 2 not sold .02 each
Kerosene .30 per gal. .25 per gal. .24 per gal.
Soap .25 for 6 bars .05 each .05 each
Shirts--boys' .60-.80 each .65-1.50 each .60-1.00 each
men's .90-1.50 1.00-2.00 .75-3.00
Pants--boys' 1.50-2.00 1.25-2.00 1.75-3.50
men's 2.00-3.00 2.00-2.50 1.75-4.00
Hats .40-1.00 .30-2.50 .35-2.25 "
Cloth .50 per yd. .50 per yd. .35-.50 per yd.
Plastic cape .25 per 3 yd. .25 per 3 yd. .10 per yd.
Women'b shoes 1.80-2.00 pair 1.75-4.00 pair 1.50-1.60 pair
Men's shoes 3.00-3.50 3.00-5.50 2.50-3.00 pair
Rubber boots 3.00-3.50 2.90 pair 2.00-3.00 "


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 V1.00 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 49.8 13.9 36.1 31.8
15-24: 42.8 71.9 27.1 62.1 16.8 48.3 37.6
25-34: 40.4 68.8 25.2 60.8 24.7 48.0 33.0
35-44: 35.3 63.0 20.3 54.3 11.4 42.0 28.6
45-54: 33.1 58.2 17.8 50.6 8.8 40.4 25.7
55 & Over: 27.9 50.8 12.6 44.6 6.2 32.4 23.4
Total: 36.7 63.8 22.2, 54.5 13.3 41.8 31.8
Source: Guatemala, Direccion General de Estadfstica, Censo 1964 Poblaci6n, and author's

Colonies Concepci'n Maquina Colonies Totals
Age Group (1)a. (2)b ()a (2)b (1)a (2)b (1)a (2) b (1)a (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 older groups, it can be maintained that the school program is meeting its minimum goals 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 respective 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. Aothc :1 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 at 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 hid no\ teacher or that he or she had neglected a student or was of "mal car&cter" ("bad character"). Without question the rural education p-ro-


Reason for Non-attendance Number of Cases

1. Needed for work on the parcela 0. . . 30
2. School too far; bad road; or
children "too little" o , . 22
3. Lack of (or "bad character" of)
a teacher . . . . . . a * 7
4. Sickness . . . . . . . . . 5
5. Poverty . . . . . . 5
6. Other . . . . . . . . . 7
TOTAL . . 76

gram in many countries of tatin America has been hampered by the unwillingness 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. Sometimes a teacher commuted to a colony from a coastal town such as Mazatenangol 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't 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 3; 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 atte oth

ext t of o cial f gin tec onie .a -one-measure-of

commercializa-tioxn., 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 bymanual 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-planqng) 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 knowm as the dobla is performed: the stalk is bent downwards at a point just below.the 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. .9


When the ears of corn are sufficiently dried the harvest takes place. The corn is then husked, after which further drying takes place. .Finally, 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 seaunda, 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 a 1, clearing . . 45
2. burning . . . 1.64 3. plowing . . . V2.19 4. sowing . . V .54
5. cultivating . . 1.13
6. doubling . . . .55 7. harvest . . . V1.12
8. shelling . .58
Total cost . 9V9.20

The study found that the average yield of corn in quintales (onehundred-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 Economicas de Occidente, Parcelamiento La Maquina (Quezaltenangot Instituto de Investigaciones Economicas y S;ociales de Occidente, 1968), pp. 55-62.
40 SIbid.


with an additional cost of 0.03 for seed. This compares with the price received for a quintal of corn on the wholesale market (1969) of' V2.50.
If a parcelario hired workers for all the hand operations

performed during the farming season, he would be operating A.t 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 V~ m~c IioltvdS if'% C,!,AVCrJ
criteria of pesticide or fertilizer use, just as for -traetor--rental, 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 improvingzyour 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 rods are in their poorest condition, filled milk containers cannot be collected by the wholesalers from many farms. During the dry season, water and pasture sho ages can be severe. Prices, which range from a low of 6 cents per liter of milk in the rainy seasor4 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,ural deficiencies, and low prices all handicap the small producer in the colonies.

21VAninudaed iedeit

caottle raigin theSIS k'j

bic krountd


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 Tiber crop. Several other crops (rice, sorghum, plantains, and yucca) are staples

in the domestic market and can be sold as readily--but or 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 parcela 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 precarioust the small producer is the first to be excluded from the market when the big producers meet their quotas. In both El Cajon 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 subsistence.

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 minimum corn price and buy surpluses, the problems of seasonally fluctuating, 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 approximately 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 V8,0O0. 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 (2.50 per qintal. For

white corn (rarer in the colonies) he Paid V2.60l for rice, V3.25. He, and his assistants marketed 150 to 200 quintales of grain in the capital twice a week. There they received V3.15 for yellow corn, V3.25 for white corn, and V3.90 to V4.00 for rice. The round-trip diesel gas cost was V13.00. Pay to the driver of the truck was V2.50 per day plus food. Two other assistants were paid V1.00 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 indispensable 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 .aeptember 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:- 4j trucks--267 quintalos
5. to Quezaltenango: 2 trucks--250 quintales
6. to Santa Cruz del Quich~s 2 trucks--228 quintales
7. to Sololat 2 trucks--215 quintales
8. to Chimaltenangot 2 trucks-167t quintales.


Other departures in the month of September had .been to Antigua, Chichicasteanango, San Antonio Suchitep&quez, 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 experience of many colonists with cooperatives has not been oncourbging. 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 are: Nueva Concepcion with 21 La Maquina with 2; and La Blanca, El Reposo, El Cajin, Los Angeles, Cuyuta, and Santa Isabel, each with 6ne.- In addition there were 9 "associations" 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 Cajon. There were also a number of farmers' committees (comitgs) and peasant

leagues (ligas campesinas). in the parcelamientos administered by INY.T.A.

Up to now, the main purposes of these eeopean.i 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 leadershiAp 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 experience with cooperatives. However, extension workers and local colonists 1969 to be making a new effort to develop effective types of organization. There were "line-chiefs" (Jefes de las lineas) on each of the secondary access roads in Nueva Concepci6n. The association movement in particular was making 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 Concepcion 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 throughout 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 Concepci6n 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


Roads Inundations Infestation Potable Water Problems Others
,Colony Group (1)a (2)b (1 )a (2)b (1)a,(2) (1)a (2)b(1)a (2)b

Small Eastern
Colonies 29.7 45.9 8.1 13.5 10.8 29.7 2.7 5.4 27.0 37.8

Nueva Concepci~n 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

aColumn (1) gives the percentage who considered the problem their main one.

Column (2) gives the percentage who considered the problem some degree of a problem.

Oi on the m An .Ccss road. to La. NquiAr. (ThAis: sectirn of the roacd has been raved
sn 19t'".

7-,24, Cargo trucks imped ccl 14 the mire.

4 6

~i~i 'It


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 Mont-ifar)"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 11:00 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.0.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, lowinterest 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 V600 to V1,000 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-offarm 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 91,OOO 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 repayment schedules may mean that loans will be less accessible in the



Monetary Farm ncome

The foregoing sections indicate that subsistence farming is very widespread in the colonies. Th is true the cri of
ue the c iof
f g methods, cro i ersific/atioil m.,ting tteVL, d jor roblo recogni d by the c oni s. early e rcela 'n os ha o not y t brok free of t typic 1 al sub st ce pattoL so wi espre Guatema

<-- However, commercialization is not wholly absent. rom-the .o-lonies. As a summation of the indices of subsistence versus commercial farming, the author has calculateU 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 V1,000 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 :er 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 households 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 concluded that the questionable accuracy of some data did not pe uit 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"; (2) the parcelario's statement as to his main expenditures, such as the amount paid for tractor rental, jornaleros' wages, and weekly marketing and (3) the itemized listing obtained at each jarcela 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 capita income has been tabulated because on balance it was taken to be more meaningful. A household 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" for ,each 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 Concepcior; Sectors A and B of La Maquinal

Monterrey; Caballo Blanco and Santi Fe6 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 ,housbholds were in the middle 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 Makuina are generally derived from mechanized grain production.