Citation
A Matter of Survival

Material Information

Title:
A Matter of Survival Women, Subsistence Farming, and Environmental Degradation in Rural Guatemala
Creator:
Hallum, Rachel M
Place of Publication:
[Gainesville, Fla.]
Publisher:
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Language:
english
Physical Description:
1 online resource (79 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Master's ( M.A.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Sociology
Committee Chair:
Pena, Milagros
Committee Members:
Shehan, Constance L.
Graduation Date:
8/11/2007

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Agricultural land ( jstor )
Crops ( jstor )
Deforestation ( jstor )
Ecofeminism ( jstor )
Farmers ( jstor )
Gender roles ( jstor )
Globalization ( jstor )
Mayan culture ( jstor )
Mudslides ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
Sociology -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
deforestation, ecofeminism, environment, gender, guatemala, sociology
Genre:
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Sociology thesis, M.A.

Notes

Abstract:
This thesis uses a socialist ecofeminist framework to explore the historical and material links between environmental degradation and women's roles as subsistence farmers in rural Guatemala. Data was gathered from interviews with 20 women farmers, as well as observational research, to explore how women's work is specifically affected by processes and policies of development in rural Guatemala. Results reveal that development processes have led to greater deforestation and soil erosion in the areas where poor women farm for themselves and their families. Despite the difficulties that the women face, they are more than victims of their situation; rather they have begun mobilizing both locally and transnationally to combat the environmental problems confronting their families and communities. The thesis calls for conservationists and policy makers to take into account the roles that women farmers play in preserving the environment in places like rural Guatemala, and concludes by suggesting ideas for future research. ( en )
General Note:
In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note:
Includes vita.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description:
Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description:
This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis:
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2007.
Local:
Adviser: Pena, Milagros.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Rachel M Hallum.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright Hallum, Rachel M. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
660256283 ( OCLC )
Classification:
LD1780 2007 ( lcc )

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The Rise of Big Agriculture and Big Industry and the Exploitation of the Global South

It was not until the late nineteenth century following the Spanish American War in 1898,

however, that Guatemala and the rest of Central America-including El Salvador, Nicaragua,

and Costa Rica-entered definitively into the world market. This was primarily due to the

growth and expansion of the world coffee market, and the identification of Central America as an

ideal region to grow the crop. Here we find the beginnings of North's economic exploitation of

the South, as multi-national coffee businesses began to appropriate land in much of Latin

America in order to produce their highly profitable crop. Oftentimes, Guatemala's political

leaders worked with these multi-national businesses to help them gain the land they needed.

These leaders, called caudillos, or "strongmen," were often former generals who wielded both

political and military power in their country, and used this power to force poor farmers off their

land. This land was then handed over to the agribusinesses, often in return for economic or other

forms of compensation (Lovell 1988; Brunk and Fallaw 2006). Thus, once again, poor

farmers-the majority of whom were Maya-were displaced from the most ideal agricultural

land and forced to resettle elsewhere. Increasingly, Maya populations were becoming more

concentrated in the western highlands of Guatemala, where land was of little economic value to

either the state or large agribusinesses (Hamilton and Chinchilla 2001: 20). However, through

policies of forced labor such as debt peonage, vagrancy laws, and "generalized rural repression,"

many Maya were recruited to provide labor for the coffee plantations. It is estimated that by the

1880s, at least 100,000 Maya highland workers, or one out of every eight Maya, migrated to the

coffee plantations each year (Lutz and Lovell 2000: 32).

Guatemala's incorporation into the world market-and concomitant exploitation by the

North-continued into the twentieth century when greater numbers of multi-national

agribusinesses (many of which were based in the United States) entered into the country and









countries considered to be Third World. Like transnational feminist scholars Chandra Mohanty,

Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Vandana Shiva, I will use the terms North/First World and South/Third

World interchangeably. These terms reflect the historical ways in which countries in the northern

hemisphere have historically exploited countries in the southern hemisphere, through

imperialism, colonialism, and, most recently, through policies of neoliberalism and globalization

(Minh-ha 1989; Mies and Shiva 1993; Shiva 2000). Of course, it is important to recognize that

the historical exploitation of some countries by others has not always been so neatly

geographically ordered; this has only been a general historical tendency.

Throughout this thesis, I will also use the term "globalization" to refer to the processes of

global economic restructuring, with a specific "economic and technological agenda that alters

basic modes of cultural organization and international exchange in many parts of the world"

(Eaton and Lorentzen 2003: 4). While proponents of globalization declare "endless benefits

from the exchange of capital on a global scale," others critique the notion that globalization is

beneficial for everyone. These critics argue that policies of globalization are reordering the flow

of capital and wealth within a "global and hegemonic economic regime" that serves only the

interests of the elite and rich (4).

Through this thesis, I hope to explore how these global, historical processes and policies

are played out an everyday, microsocial level. Specifically, I want to asses how the policies

affect both women and the environment in the context of rural Guatemala. In doing so, I hope to

contribute to the growing body of anti-capitalist, anti-globalization literature, and to "read up the

ladder of privilege," in the words of Mohanty (1986), making visible and responsible the global

powers that are affecting the lives of countless people.









more than a matter of tepid concern, but a matter of survival, motivated in the need to protect a

food base that nurtures the women, their families, and the larger community.

Future, more large scale studies of this nature that examine women's relationship with

their environment in other regions of the globe could be helpful in developing both theory and

policy that takes into account how historical processes of globalization and environmental

degradation affect individuals differently according to not only their gender, but their race, class,

and nationality as well. Ecofeminist theory in particular can benefit from such studies, as it has

often been criticized for being overly theoretical and lacking in empirical evidence; for

homogenizing women as a group and failing to take into account issues of difference; and for

failing to take into account issues of globalization as an "extension" of capitalist-patriarchy

(Agarwal 1992; Sydee and Beder 2001; Eaton and Lorentzen 2003). With regards to policy,

studies similar to this have already had an impact, as the United Nations has held conferences

and generated policy initiatives that highlight the links between women's roles as farmers and

providers for their families and their roles as environmental protectors. One such report by the

United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (UNDAW), entitled "Making Risky

Environments Safer," was developed from the 1995 UN Fourth World Conference on Women.

From a review of numerous case studies from around the globe, it concludes that "women and

women's empowerment are indeed central in the development of an integrated global social

movement toward sustainable development..." (UNDAW 2004: 9). Additionally, the United

Nations' major document on sustainable development, Agenda 21, has been adopted by more

than 178 nations and includes a chapter on the importance of linking women's empowerment to

the improvement of local environments (UNEP 1992).









LIST OF REFERENCES


Agarwal, Bina. 1992. "The Gender and Environment Debate: Lessons from India." Feminist Studies 18
(1): 119-158.

American Red Cross. 2005. "Hurricane Stan: Mexico and Central America." American Red
Cross Annual Report. Washington, D.C.: The American National Red Cross. 3-4.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1986. "The Forms of Capital." Pp. 241-258 in Handbook of Theory and Research of
the Sociology ofEducation, edited by J.C. Richardson. New York: Greenwood Press.

Brunk, Samuel and Ben Fallaw, eds. 2006. Heroes andHero Cults in Latin America. Austin, TX:
University of Texas Press.

Bulbeck, Chilla. 2006. "Fracturing Binarisms: First and Third Worlds." Pp. 37-41 in BeyondBorders,
edited by P.S. Rothenberg. New York: Worth.

Carr, David L. 2003. "The Event Ecology of Deforestation on the Agricultural Frontier: The Sierra de
Lacondon National Park, Guatemala." Paper presented at the Association of American
Geographers Annual Conference, Los Angeles.

Comisi6n para el Esclarecimiento Hist6rico (CEH). 1999. Guatemala Memoria del Silencio.
Guatemala City: CEH.

Churchill, Ward. 1998. A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492
to Present. San Francisco: City Lights.

Danner, Mark. 1994. The Massacre atElMozote: A Parable of the Cold War. New York: Vintage.

Deere, Carmen Diana. 2005. The Feminization ofAgriculture? Economic Restructuring in Rural
Latin America. New York: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.

Deere, Carmen Diana and Magdalena Leon. 2001. Empowering Women: Land and Property Rights in
Latin America. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Eaton, Heather. 2005. Introducing Ecofeminist Theologies. New York: T and T Clark
International.

------. 2003. "Can Ecofeminism Withstand Corporate Globalization?" Pp. 23-37 in Ecofeminism
and Globalization: Exploring Culture, Context, and Religion, edited by H. Eaton and
L.A. Lorentzen. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.

Eaton, Heather and Lois Ann Lorentzen. 2003. "Introduction." Pp. 1-8 in Ecofeminism and
Globalization: Exploring Culture, Context, and Religion, edited by H Eaton and L.A.
Lorentzen. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.









control over their lands and resources. Today, the burdens of Guatemala's long history of the

appropriation of land and resources are disproportionately borne by Guatemala's rural

populations. With regards to land rights, this history has left rural populations with one of the

most uneven land distribution patterns in Latin America; now, less than 1% of landowners hold

75% of the best agricultural land. Additionally, an estimated 90% of rural inhabitants live in

poverty, with over 500,000 campesino farmworkerr) families living below subsistence level.

Most of these inhabitants are indigenous (Tanaka and Wittman 2003).

Rural Women and the Environment in Modern Guatemala

However, even within the indigenous community, not everyone has been affected in the

same ways. An ecofeminist analysis requires that we view environmental degradation through

the lens of gender. When we do so, we note that environmental degradation disproportionately

affects women in many nations, due in large part to a gendered division of labor that considers

family sustenance to be a woman's work. The gendered division of labor, as noted by

ecofeminist Maria Mies, is a key part of the capitalist patriarchal system. She argues that

women's subsistence work is a necessary precondition for the existence and continuation of the

capitalist system. Thus:

This general production of life, or subsistence production-mainly performed
through the non-wage labour of women and other non-wage labourers as slaves,
contract workers, and peasants in the colonies-constitutes the perennial basis
upon which 'capitalist productive labour' can be built up and exploited. Without
the ongoing subsistence production of non-wage labourers (mainly women), wage
labour would not be 'productive' (1986: 48).

Ecofeminist scholar Heather Eaton reaffirms this argument. She notes that as primary care

givers, "women are responsible for the food and health of family members," and that due to

environmental destruction in many poor countries, "it is becoming increasingly difficult to









Thus, through the work they have done on behalf of their families and communities, the

women of Itzapa have also empowered themselves as well. Although the women of Acatenango

and Comalapa have not yet seen all the fruits of the labor they do on behalf of their families and

communities, their work has nonetheless proven beneficial in protecting both the environment

and their food sources. The stories of these women are testament to the power of collective

action in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.









Every week, once each week, I would walk nearly two or three hours, out of the
city, past the farms, up into the mountains, up, up, just to find some branches for
cooking. I would have to walk so far, because I had no trees in my field, and no
one else had trees, and I was not going to steal other people's trees or branches!
Then, I would carry all this back down, on my head or my back, and it was very
difficult if it ever started to rain! Finally, I would get home, almost eight hours
after I left. And then I would have to cook for six people!

After working for AIR for more than five years, however, Ivelisse and other women in Itzapa are

able to prune branches from trees in their fields in order to cook. While the trees in their fields

do not yield enough firewood for the amounts required by open fire cooking, they do reduce the

number of times that the women must make long treks to find obtain wood. Ivelisse, for

instance, notes that the number of time she must travel outside of Itzapa for wood has been

reduced from four to two times each month. Dofia Elsa, 38, also from Itzapa, explains that while

she and her family were able to afford to buy firewood at least twice each month, she no longer

has to, as she and her husband own two plots of land that have both been re-forested through

AIR. These two plots now yield enough firewood for the family to cook with, although it should

be noted that Elsa uses a more fuel-efficient stove that only requires one third of the firewood

that the traditional open-fire method requires.

Despite the improvements in the situations of women like Ivelisse and Elsa, the lack of

firewood remains a deep concern for many of the women interviewed. As Dofia Fidelia noted,

the problem has become so severe that people are literally stealing trees from others' property.

Women in Acatenango and Comalapa also noted that firewood is becoming increasingly scarce,

and while some women are able to buy firewood in town, others reported having to walk

between two and six kilometers (one way) at least once each week in order to obtain wood from

outside the city limits. While most of the women state that they prune branches for firewood

instead of cutting entire trees, many residents will cut trees if cutting branches is insufficient.









CHAPTER 5
ORGANIZING FOR FAMILY AND COMMUNITY

As we have seen, the connection that the women farmers in Guatemala have with their

local environment is a close one, rooted in a gendered division of labor and the women's daily,

lived experiences as both mothers and farmers for their families. This connection has in turn

fostered an awareness amongst the women of progressively worsening environmental conditions

in their communities, as well as an awareness of the need to act to improve these conditions. In

Acatenango, Comalapa, Itzapa, and other rural areas in Guatemala women have taken steps to

mobilize on behalf of the environment, their families, and their communities. Ecofeminist

scholars note that such mobilization is not uncommon for women in rural areas throughout the

world, and is often fueled by the "ecological insights" of women as subsistence farmers (Shiva

1989: 67). In Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, andDevelopment, ecofeminist Vandana Shiva

highlights the work of women farmers in the Chipko movement, in which thousands of women

mobilized in India in the 1970s to stop the logging of the forests where they lived and farmed.

As Shiva notes, this movement was motivated to protect the forests as sources of life and

sustenance, and was organized on behalf of the community rather than on behalf of the women

as individuals. Shiva writes that mobilizing around environmental issues is not uncommon in

rural communities throughout the world, and that "movements by rural women to protect forests

or rivers have always been rooted in protecting their food base" (97). As this food base nurtures

not only the women's families but their communities as well, protecting it is a matter of both

family and community survival. Thus, the unique role that women have as farmers for their

families means that they have an awareness of the need to act to preserve the environment as the

source of life and food for themselves, their families, and their communities.









official end to the violence and human rights abuses that had plagued the country for thirty-six

bloody years.

Thus, the story of Guatemala's involvement in the world market is one of the severe

social and economic marginalization and suppression of poor, rural farmers, most of whom were

indigenous Maya. The story is also one of increasing environmental degradation in the region,

due to the combined effects of industrialization and thirty years of civil war. While the political

strife in Guatemala may officially be over, the economic and ecological crisis is not. Policies of

globalization and neoliberalism instituted in the 1980s have contributed to a decrease in both the

quality of life and the environment in rural Guatemala. The following section details how these

policies have impacted rural farmers in Guatemala, particularly women.

Effects of Policies of Globalization and Neoliberalism

The problem of environmental degradation in Guatemala in particular, and Central

America in general, can be traced directly to globalization and the implementation of neoliberal

policies, beginning in the early 1980s. These policies represent a continuation of efforts to

incorporate Guatemala into the world market, and were put into place by a powerful coalition of

international financial institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World

Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and various Latin American governments.

According to officials of these institutions, the goals of the new policies were to reduce

government corruption, provide greater economic stability to the region, reduce inflation, boost

competitiveness and exports, and reduce poverty through "trickle-down" benefits. However, the

tools used to implement these policies seem far-removed from the goals. In order to comply

with demands of both the WTO and the World Bank, many Latin American governments

instituted draconian cuts in spending on social programs; privatized public utilities; eliminated

government regulations in order to attract foreign investments; liberalized trade policies; and









those whose survival depends upon subsistence farming. The following section explores how

this environmental degradation impacts the lives and livelihoods of the women farmers in this

study.

Women Farmers

It has been noted repeatedly by various feminist scholars over the years that the gendered

division of labor that pervades much of the world defines "productive" wage labor work as

men's work, and "non-productive" work inside the home as women's work (Nash and

Fernandez-Kelly 1983; Mies 1986; Mies and Shiva 1993; Mohanty 1997). Ecofeminists note

that in many countries in the global South, this gendered division of labor has traditionally

placed women in rural areas in the role of subsistence farmers for their families (Mies and Shiva

1993; Gebara 1999; Eaton and Lorentzen 2003). The patriarchal logic that informs this division

views women's work as subsistence farmers as a "natural" extension of their roles as primary

care givers. Thus, their labor intensive farm work becomes yet another way for women to

nurture and care for their families, and allows their husbands to engage in "productive" wage

earning labor outside the home (Mies 1986).

The interviews conducted with the Guatemalan women in this study confirm that they do

indeed play a prominent role in the cultivation of their families' subsistence plots, or milpa,

which typically consist of corn and beans. Of the twenty women interviewed, fourteen indicated

that cultivating their families' land was primarily their responsibility. Five indicated that they

shared this responsibility with their husbands, and only one Maya woman in Comalapa indicated

that her husband was the primary farmer. She noted that while she helped him occasionally with

the farming, her primary activity involved weaving and selling huipils, beautiful and elaborate

blouses that are a trademark of traditional Maya dress for women, and that can take up to four

months to make.









United Nations Development Program. 2000. Human Development Report 1999. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.

United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (UNDAW). 2004. "Making Risky
Environments Safer." New York: UNDAW/DESA Press.

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). 1992. Agenda 21: United Nations Program of
Action from Rio. New York: United Nations Press.

------. 2006. Planet in Peril: Atlas of Current Threats to People and the Environment. New York:
Earthprint.

Warren, Karren. 2000. Ecofeminist Philosophy. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Weyland, Kurt. 2004. "Assessing Latin American Neoliberalism: Introduction to a Debate."
Latin American Research Review 39:143-49.









group solidarity and cohesion if everyone shares the same understandings of what it means to be

a poor ladina or Maya woman farmer in contemporary Guatemala. While none of the women

specifically mention the tendency to organize along racial boundaries, several of the women

highlight the importance of sharing similar "understandings" and values within the group. Dofia

Marta notes that the Kaqchikel women in the group in Itzapa "understand each other," while

Dofia Ana in Comalapa also notes that the group works well for similar reasons. She says that

the group has existed for many years, "because we are all organized, we are all friends, and we

all want to work together and help each other. We understand the importance of working

together, and of knowing what each one of us needs. We know this because we all grew up

together, right here. We are like sisters."

In Guatemala, ladina/o and Maya populations have experienced drastically different

histories based on their race. These differential experiences continue today, and continue to be a

source of division within all social classes in Guatemala (Nelson 1999). Overcoming these

divisions may prove difficult, and attempting to do so may neither be practical nor desirable,

particularly for women like Marta, Ana, and others in difficult conditions where one's quality of

life is so dependent upon strong relationships and social networks based on mutual trust and

understanding.

In order to better understand how various social networks and social capital operate in

poor communities like those in rural Guatemala, it is also important to note that simply because

individuals have access to social capital does not mean that they will be able to use it. As Cecilia

Menjivar notes in her book Fragmented Ties, the "social context" in which individuals live, "as

well as their social position dictate the quality and quantity of resources they have available."

Menjivar notes that the kinds of resources that people have access to is of great importance, as









their role as subsistence farmers has been impacted by the environmental degradation occurring

within their communities. It is true that a review of history and theory is necessary in

understanding the progression of environmental degradation, and how this degradation affects

individuals differentially according to intersections of nationality, race, gender, and class.

However, it is only through the words and stories of people like Dofias Marta, Santiaga, Lourdes,

and others that we are able to see how these global, historical processes are played out in the

everyday lives of individuals. Through these stories, we are able to see how deforestation, soil

erosion, overuse of pesticides, and other problems have impacted numerous aspects of life for

these women and their families and communities. Deforestation has not only emotional but

material consequences for these women farmers, as many express a sense of sadness and loss as

more and more trees are cut in their communities. Additionally, as more trees are cut to make

way for subsistence plots, these women must walk farther for firewood, and must also contend

with the dangers of soil erosion and mudslides from deforested hillsides.

In the various stories presented here, however, we find not only a message of urgency but a

message of hope and courage as well, as these women have taken it upon themselves to mobilize

to fight the environmental degradation that threatens the well-being of their families and

communities. As their role as farmers has made them more aware of the environmental

problems in their various locales, it has also made them aware of the need to act to address these

problems. Thus, these women have mobilized both locally and transnationally to secure the

social, financial, and technical resources to stop and reverse environmentally destructive

processes. As Vandana Shiva, Ivone Gebara, and other ecofeminist scholars have pointed out,

for women in Third World nations like Guatemala, mobilizing on behalf of the environment is









LIST OF FIGURES


Figure pe

4-1 Deforested hillside in the Department of Chimaltenango...............................................36

4-2 Aftermath of mudslides near Acatenango...................................... ........................ 48

4-3 River on the outskirts of Acatenango that was covered over by a mudslide ...................50

5-1 Eroded areas and forested areas of a hillside, post-Hurricane Stan. ...............................58

5-2 Label of manzanilla shampoo made by group of women in Itzapa................................66









plantation], ten years ago, and you have become more and more sick each year. And now you

want me to use the same poisons that are making you sick to grow food for your whole family?'

I refused." However, it was only when her husband spoke with a health care worker in the city

that he became convinced that spraying his milpa might be detrimental not only to his own health

but the health of his family as well. While their family does not use pesticides on their milpa, the

husband continues to use them in his daily work at the plantation.

Other women whose husbands worked on plantations, farming for wages, also noted

similar differences in attitudes towards farming and the environment. When asked about these

differences, some women noted that for the men saw the land as having only economic value, as

a source of income. As Dofia Clementina in Acatenango notes,

Yes, we have to make a living from the land. But we also live with the land, with
the environment. When we farm for our families, we recognize this, that we must
protect the environment for our future. I do not think my husband is able to see
this, because where he works, they are taught to farm in ways that are bad for
themselves and the environment, with no consideration for the future, only for
money.

Thus, while women subsistence farmers recognize that farmwork is the only way for many rural

families to secure an income, many also recognize that the land has more than mere utilitarian

value, and must be protected and preserved as a resource for the health and well-being of present

and future generations alike. Many women expressed the recognition that the health of the

environment is inextricably linked to the health and nourishment of their families, and that if it is

neglected, the future of their children and community is similarly jeopardized.

The women who shared farming responsibilities with their husbands, however, noted that

their husbands not only supported but encouraged them to work with AIR. Dofia Lourdes, in

Comalapa, notes that when she told her husband of the group's decision to work with AIR, he

was "very interested" and wanted to learn more about the organization. He accompanied some









wide problem, particularly with regards to its role in aggravating dangerous mudslides that

threaten the lives of their families and their neighbors. Thus, the connection that the women, as

subsistence farmers, have to the land means that they are both aware of and affected by the

increasing environmental degradation of their communities. This connection has also fostered a

sense of urgency, an awareness of the need to act and address the problems at hand. The

following section explores the ways in which the women of Acatenango, Comalapa, and Itzapa

have mobilized both locally and transnationally to combat the problems of environmental

destruction in their communities.









Irrespective of the amount of labor that rural women dedicate to agriculture-
whether as unpaid family workers or as wage workers-agriculture in Latin
America has been socially constructed as a male occupation. As a result, women's
work in agriculture is largely invisible. If considered at all, it is usually seen as
supplementary assistance to the principal male farmer. .. even in the agricultural
censuses, the agriculturalist of the household unit is assumed to be the male
household head (2001: 102).

The devaluation of women's work in farming is clearly evident of a capitalist-patriarchal

ideology, which has led to a gross underestimation of women's work in the agricultural sector.

The extent of such underestimation was recently made evident by the combined research efforts

of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Inter-American

Development Bank (IDB) from 1991 through 1995. The aim of the IICA/IDB research was to

gather employment data for Latin American nations that would be more accurate than official,

national employment data. In this project, researchers undertook time-use studies, and found that

a large majority of rural women work 14 to 8 hours a day in a variety of tasks: cultivating their

own land; tending livestock; caring for children; gardening; and making products for sale. This

study's findings contrasted sharply with those of government surveys, which oftentimes have not

even recognized women as laborers. Of the 18 nations included in the IICA/IDB study,

Guatemala was found to have the most severe undercount; researchers concluded that the

government had underestimated the percentage of economically active rural women by nearly

500% (Kleysen and Campillo 1996: 17).

Both Deere and the IICA/IDB's study conclude that women in rural Guatemala have daily,

close contact with their land and environment. These studies also raise important questions,

however. What is the nature of the relationship between rural women and their land? What is

the nature, if any, of environmental degradation in the communities where these women live?

How are the women affected by such degradation? And what are the women doing about the









farmer from Acatenango also recognizes that the problem of deforestation in her community has

gotten worse in recent years. She notes that,

We [in the women's group] have all grown up together here, in Acatenango.
Most of us come from families of farmers, so we have been doing this our whole
life. But over the years, more people, more farmers have moved here, and have
bought land here. Of course, they have to farm, too, and this means that they cut
the trees. We here, my compaheras and I realized that something had to be done.

Like Dofia Fidelia, Cecilia and the other women with whom she works are concerned about the

increasing rates of deforestation in their communities. As the women elaborate, many of their

concerns relate to both the emotional and material consequences of deforestation.

Emotional Consequences

The farm work that the women do requires them to be in their fields between one and

four days each week, on average, tending to their crops. This work places them in close,

intimate contact with their environment, as they clear away brush, till the soil, plant the seeds,

and nurture the crops that will be used to feed their families. The direct physical connection with

their crops and the surrounding environment in turn fosters an emotional connection to the

environment that many women expressed. Dofia Patricia, a ladina farmer in Acatenango,

describes the fields where she works as her "home," and explains that for her, farming is relaxing

and enjoyable. She says,

I work so much inside the house, with three young children, and I am very tired
on the days that I spend in the house. On days that I come to farm, I bring my
children with me, of course, and I feel better... I feel like the field, like the trees
are my home, and my home is actually where I work [laughs]. So yes, it is sad for
me to see trees being cut, because when they are cut, I feel like I am losing part of
my home.

When asked about what the environment meant to her, Dofia Santiaga, a ladina farmer from

Acatenango, responded that her feelings were "complicated and profound," and she felt that a

poem best expressed how she felt about "God's creation":










The immediacy of the threat is evident in Dofia Emelia's concern for her friend. While she

is anxious about her friend, Emelia is also concerned for herself as well. She goes on to say, "Of

course, I am worried about my own family, too. Really, when it rains so hard, no one is

completely safe." Thus, Emelia is aware that the problem of mudslides is one that affects the

entire community, and is not restricted to one or two families.

Other communities have been similarly affected. In Comalapa, for instance, mudslides

have made it even more difficult to farm in an already precarious area. Dofia Mona, 42, notes

that while she is not overly concerned for her safety, she does have to take "extra care" when

farming. She says that "The soil can be loose, and it is easy to slip on the rocks. I do not like to

bring my young children with me, because it can be dangerous, so I ask my older ones to watch

them when I am working [in the field]." She extends this danger beyond her own personal

experiences, however, noting that "I am only one of many farmers here. I know that others have

the same difficulties like I have." Thus, Mona connects her experiences to the experiences of

others in situations similar to hers, concluding that the dangers inherent in farming on steep,

unstable slopes are dangers that many farmers in Comalapa have to contend with. As women are

the primary farmers in these areas, they are also the ones who are placed in the greatest danger.

In addition to affecting farming conditions, the mudslides have affected other aspects of

life in highland communities, including finding water for bathing and washing clothes, as well as

travel. In Acatenango, while some residents have running water, many do not. In order to wash

clothes, many women make weekly trips to a community pila, a set of outdoor sinks constructed

out of stone where people bring their clothes or dishes to wash. One of the main pilas in

Acatenango was not equipped with running water, but was built near a river that ran outside of

town, so that people could easily fetch water as needed. Unfortunately, the river ran alongside









Where we live, it is difficult and dangerous to farm. It is very steep here, and
even a little bit of rain can wash the soil away. It is foolish to not use trees to
protect the soil; this is the way my family has always done things. Other families
do the same, but many do not, and it is foolish. I do not understand why people
do not want to take care of their future. Do they not understand that it is not only
themselves they have to worry about, but their children and their grandchildren?

Lourdes goes on to say that she and the other women who work with her try to help the other

families whose crops were destroyed by Hurricane Stan, but that it is difficult to do so, because

they have barely enough to feed their own families. The difficulties of this situation have

motivated Lourdes and others to work even harder to improve their situation. Lourdes says,

"Sometimes, when I think about how difficult life here is for so many people, I get angry,

because no one should have to struggle like this. This anger is what has motivated me to work

with AIR, because I have such a strong desire that our situation can improve, and it must

improve, for ourselves and for our children." Dofia Sofia echoes this sentiment, noting that "We

have many difficulties here [in Comalapa], but of course we cannot lose hope. In our struggles,

we have found strength. We have to be strong, for our families and our communities. It is the

only way to survive." For women like Lourdes and Sofia, the social and environmental

injustices that have caused such difficulties for theirs and others' families have motivated the

women to work that much harder to ameliorate the problems faced by their communities. For

them, the decision to work with AIR was motivated by necessity, by the need to "survive," as

Sofia notes. For these women, transnational organizing through their work with the NGO has

become a crucial part of the struggle for survival in the highlands of Guatemala.

Gender Differences

Another interesting theme to emerge from the interviews was some women's assertions

that their concerns regarding the environment were distinctly different from those of their

husbands or other men in the communities. Dofia Erelena in Itzapa notes how her husband, who









Here, a group of twenty Kaqchikel Maya women have been working with AIR for approximately

two years to implement methods of agroforestry in their fields. Their fields are close in size to

those of the farmers of Acatenango, averaging about 0.5 hectares.

Itzapa

Like Comalapa, Itzapa is a fairly large community of about 40,000 that is approximately

ten miles to the southwest of Chimaltenango, and fifteen miles to the southeast of the valley of

Tecpan. It is slightly more industrialized and polluted than Comalapa, and more crowded as

well. Here there is a group of forty Kaqchikel Maya women who have been working with AIR

for over five years. All of them farm for subsistence, and their fields are located between one

and five kilometers outside of the city limits. Their subsistence plots are comparable in size to

the plots of farmers in Acatenango and Comalapa, averaging about 0.4 hectares, or 0.98 acres.

The farming areas around Itzapa are not as steep as the areas around Acatenango and Comalapa,

and thus the women here do not have to contend with the same dangers and difficulties of

farming on rocky mountainsides. However, Itzapa also lies at a somewhat lower elevation than

Acatenango or Comalapa, and some of its low-lying areas are susceptible to flooding when it

rains heavily. During the rainy season, from May until August, it is not uncommon for roads and

bridges to collapse when the ground becomes over-saturated. This, in turn, can make travel to

and from one's milpa a difficult and arduous process.

While the three communities in this study differ according to various geographical

characteristics, they all face similar environmental problems. These problems are rooted in

neoliberal policies and historical processes of land appropriation that have gradually pushed

subsistence farmers to more mountainous areas where more and more forests are being slashed

and burned to make way for corn and beans. The increasing deforestation of these areas has had

profound impacts on the lives and livelihoods of the residents of these communities, particularly









5 ORGANIZING FOR FAMILY AND COMMUNITY .................................. ...............53

Local and Transnational Organizing and Social Capital ................................................54
T he E nvironm ent and the F am ily ........................................ ............................................58
Gender Differences ...................... ........................ ... ... ................. 60
The Environment and the Community .............................................................................63
C on clu sion .................................................................... .................................... 6 5

6 CON CLU SION .......... ................................................................. ............. ... 68

APPENDIX

A GUIDING QUESTIONS (SPANISH)........................................................ ............. 72

B GUIDING QUESTION S (ENGLISH) .............................................................................73

L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S ......... .......... ................................................. ....................................74

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H .............................................................................. .....................79



































6









Local and Transnational Organizing and Social Capital

As poor farmers in rural Guatemala, the women in this study occupy a socially

marginalized position in terms of their class and gender. The Maya women must also contend

with the additional problem of racism, as discrimination against indigenous populations in

Guatemala has a long history dating back to the colonial period and the enslavement and

exploitation of the Maya by the Spanish. In order to empower themselves against these various

intersecting oppressions, many women in rural areas of Guatemala have found it necessary to

organize within their communities. All of the women in this study belong to local women's

groups that were organized by the women prior to their involvement with AIR. Each group has a

leadership committee that is elected or informally agreed upon by the other group members. In

Acatenango, Dofias Santiaga and Emelia were elected to be the leaders because of their "strong

characters," as one woman asserted, while in Itzapa, Dofias Marta, Erelena, and Elsa were

elected as president, vice-president, and secretary, respectively, because they are among the few

group members who are literate. Additionally, as Marta states, "The other women also trust us,

because we do not gossip."

While the women do not use the term "social capital" in describing the groups, the

concept is nonetheless helpful in understanding how the groups have proven to be helpful for the

women who belong to them. As defined by Pierre Bourdieu, social capital refers to "the

aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network

of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition...which

provides each of its members with the backing of collectively owned capital, a 'credential' which

entitles them to credit, in the various senses of the word" (1986: 248-9). While social capital

may be conceptualized in the same way as economic capital, it is important to note that the









CHAPTER 6
CONCLUSION

In his article "Surviving the Conquest," Guatemalan scholar W. George Lovell describes

how Guatemala has been subject to at least three "cycles of conquest" from the colonial period

through modern times. Broadly, these cycles include the conquest by imperial Spain, the

conquest by local and international capitalism, and the conquest by state terror during the civil

war of the latter twentieth century. At the heart of these various cycles has been a struggle over

land rights (1988). In the centuries from colonization to globalization, the conquest of land has

left the rural poor of Guatemala, the vast majority of whom are indigenous, with small plots of

land in Guatemala's highlands. Here, poor indigenous and ladina/o farmers must somehow

carve out a living, farming to feed themselves in difficult, unforgiving terrain. I would like to

suggest that now, poor farmers in rural Guatemala are facing a fourth cycle of conquest of both

land and resources, as the increasing globalization of capitalism has led to unprecedented

environmental degradation in Third World nations such as Guatemala. The spread of

multinational agribusinesses like Chiquita, Starbucks, and others, assisted by neoliberal reforms

instituted by the WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank, has continued to force poor farmers off

their land, which is then used by the multinationals and their contractors to grow export crops.

Forced off their lands, small scale farmers often relocate to the highlands, where they slash and

burn trees to make way for their subsistence plots. This process has become so widespread

throughout Guatemala as well as Honduras and Nicaragua that studies have found that Central

America has lost the greatest percentage of forest cover in recent years of any world region (Carr

2003).

Within this broad global and historical picture, I have tried to situate the stories of various

Maya and ladina women in rural Guatemala, using a socialist ecofeminist analysis to show how









The Environment and the Family

Like the women participating in the Chipko movement in India, the women farmers who

participated in this study were concerned with how environmental degradation in their

communities would affect their abilities to provide food for their families. When asked what

motivated them to work with AIR, many women cited their concern with protecting the future of

their children. This point was strongly emphasized by the women in Acatenango and Comalapa,

the communities that were most heavily impacted by Hurricane Stan and the resulting mudslides.

When observing the hillsides that were washed away by Stan, it is striking to note the differences

between well-forested slopes and those that had been deforested. In the areas where there had

been few or no trees, the ground appears to have opened up completely; there is either only soil

or a deep crevasse where, as many women indicated, families' crops used to be (see Figure 5-1).


gure 5-1. Eroded areas and forested areas of a hillside, post-Hurricane Stan. This is near
Acatenango, where the trees are nearly three years old. Note how the forested areas
of the hillside have held, while other areas of the hillside have collapsed.










For Fidelia, deforestation thus represents more than a loss of trees; it also represents a

loss of environmental knowledge and a loss of connection to the land that has

traditionally been of great importance to Maya men and women alike for centuries. For

women like Fidelia, the deforestation is even more painful when it is perpetuated by other

Maya, who are supposed to "know better," but have, over generations of resettlement and

displacement, become disconnected from the land and "forgotten" how to properly care

for it.

Material Consequences

The sadness and sense of loss that many women expressed represent only part of the

story of environmental degradation in the communities. As the women also noted, the

deforestation has very real, immediate consequences for them as well. Primarily, these

consequences relate to concerns of firewood and soil erosion. In areas of rural Guatemala, many

families continue to cook over open fires. This cooking requires a tremendous amount of

firewood; AIR staff members estimate that nearly two tons of firewood are required to feed a

family of four each year. Obtaining firewood does not necessitate felling trees; branches and

limbs may be pruned to obtain fuel. However, the increasing deforestation of the areas means

that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find trees with branches suitable for use as firewood.

This problem has directly impacted many of the women, who indicate that all the tasks relating

to meal preparation-including finding firewood for cooking-are often their responsibility. For

the women who cannot afford to buy firewood on a regular basis, this means that they have to

procure it themselves, usually in the mountains or fields outside of the city. Dofia Ivelisse in

Itzapa notes that prior to working with AIR, her search for firewood could often turn into an all

day, exhausting affair:









The high demand for firewood in rural areas, combined with the continued push of subsistence

farming to the mountains, thus perpetuates a cycle of deforestation that directly impacts the

women and the work they do to feed their families. Finding firewood to cook with is but one

concern that the women expressed with regards to deforestation, however. The following section

will explore how deforestation is linked to other forms of environmental degradation in the

communities.

Storms and Mudslides

The deforestation of mountain slopes and steep hillsides aggravates a greater, more

ominous threat of mudslides. While not every woman explicitly mentioned deforestation as an

environmental problem in their communities, it is notable that every woman mentioned

mudslides as a major concern. Many women linked the problem of deforestation with soil

erosion and mudslides, as did Dofia Clementina, 53, from Acatenango:

We have to farm to eat, of course, but the only places to farm are here, on these
mountains that are very steep. This is a problem because people must clear
spaces for their crops, and not everyone knows the importance of trees. But then,
when the rain is strong, there are many crops that are washed away, and then what
do people have to eat?

While mudslides are always a threat during the rainy season, they have been an especially grave

problem in the months following Hurricane Stan. In October 2005, Stan made landfall south of

Veracruz, Mexico, and brought heavy rains and flooding to much of Central America. In

Guatemala, the heavy flooding caused massive landslides, destroying thousands of homes and

partially or completely wiping out the water and sanitation systems of entire villages (see Figure

4-2). Overall, Hurricane Stan is estimated to have caused between 669 and 1,500 deaths, and

may have destroyed as many as 200,000 homes. According to Guatemala's Ministry of

Agriculture, the immediate damage done to agriculture was assessed at approximately $46









CHAPTER 4
ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AND WOMEN IN THE COMMUNITIES

All three of the communities presented in this study are located in the Department of

Chimaltenango, in the central highlands of Guatemala. This is a particularly mountainous region

of the country, with altitudes typically ranging between 1,500 and 2,500 meters (4,900 to 8,200

feet). The mountains and hills dominate the landscape, and there are only a few valley areas

with flat terrain suitable for farming. These areas, however, are often occupied by large-scale

growers and trans-national agribusinesses such as Del Monte and Chiquita, both of which bought

out the land holdings of the United Fruit Company in the 1970s (La Feber 1993). Companies

like Del Monte specialize in the growth of non-traditional agricultural export (NTAX) crops like

cabbage, snow peas, and broccoli (Fischer and Hendrickson 2003: 1). The value that NTAX

crops have for the large scale growers who cultivate them, the corporations that contract with

these growers, and the Guatemalan economy virtually guarantees that only the best farmland will

be used to grow these crops. In Chimaltenango, one of the most ideal areas for farming is the

valley of Tecpan, a large flatland area in the center of the department that spans an area of

approximately 50 square kilometers. As Fischer and Hendrickson note in their 2003 study of the

area, the valley of Tecpan provides an ideal place for growing crops, and the vast majority of the

land is used to grow export crops. It is also notable that in this area of flat terrain and loose, rich

soil, there are no subsistence plots of corn and beans.

Highland Communities

Instead of being allowed to farm in areas such as Tecpan, most rural subsistence farmers

have been displaced to areas high in the mountains of Chimaltenango. Here, farmers have

slashed and burned many areas in order to make room for their milpa, small plots of land used

for growing subsistence crops of corn and beans (see Figure 4-1). As Fischer and Hendrickson









of the women on their first trip to Chimaltenango to contact AIR. Lourdes says that, "Everyone

in my family knows the difficulties we face, and how life here can be a struggle. My husband

and I both want the best for our family, and we want a future for our children. The work we do

with AIR helps us to realize this future."

Dofia Ana, also from Comalapa, also indicates that her husband, Don Eduardo, was

supportive of the women's decision to work with AIR. She says that,

On many days that [my husband and I] worked in the fields, we would talk about
the problems of our community, about the deforestation and the mudslides, about
how it was becoming more and more difficult every year to grow crops here. We
were concerned, for ourselves and for our children. We had heard about AIR
through friends of ours, and when I told him that we [the women] wanted to go to
Chimaltenango, he was very joyful.

Ana goes on to say that since the group has been working with AIR, Eduardo has been

"very active" in assisting the women with growing and nurturing the trees in the community

nursery, which is near Ana's house. She says that "Now he helps take care of the trees in the

nursery. He treats them like his own children. He is very tender with them, because he says that

to care for them is to care for his own children." Lourdes and Ana's comments suggest that for

the husbands who share farmwork with their wives, the protection and preservation of the

environment is of utmost importance, as it is linked to the protection of their own families.

The Environment and the Community

Many women emphasized that their motivation to work with AIR stemmed not only from

concern with their family but with the wider community. Many of the families in these areas

depend upon farming for their daily nourishment. Thus, for many women, the well-being and

survival of not only their own families but their communities is linked to the health of the

surrounding environment. As women in Acatenango constructed many of the environmental

problems in their area as community-wide problems, many of the same women noted that their









In acknowledging that objectivity in any type of research is neither possible nor desirable,

feminist scholars must examine the ways in which their research method and data may be biased.

One source of bias is the way in which the research was conducted. For instance, in this study,

the fieldnotes and surveys were recorded by AIR staff and volunteers. The staff members, as

middle class, college-educated men occupy a distinctly privileged social position in Guatemala

relative to the poor, uneducated female farmers. This differential positioning may have

influenced the women farmers' responses somewhat, although it is also important to consider

that the women have been working with all of AIR's tecnicos for at least two years and have

reported that they not only trust the men but like them on a friendly, personal level as well.

While many of the interviews between the tecnicos and women were conducted in

Spanish, some were conducted in the Maya Kaqchikel language. These were then translated by

the Kaqchikel and Spanish speaking tecnicos into Spanish, and a Peace Corps volunteer from

Spain then assisted me in translating the interviews into English. Unfortunately, some of the

original meanings may have been lost through these layers of translation; we tried our best to

respect the women's messages and retain the integrity of what they told us.

In addition to taking into consideration the issues of data collection, I must also be aware

of the ways in which my social position-as a white, North American, middle-class woman-

may influence my interpretation of the data. Scholars have noted that there has been a tendency

of white North American feminists to essentialize all "Third World" women as a "homogenous,

'powerless' group often located as implicit victims of particular socioeconomic systems"

(Mohanty 1986: 23). I must be careful to avoid this tendency, and to focus my analysis on

"demonstrating the production of women as socioeconomic political groups within particular

local contexts," while paying attention to social class and ethnic identities (31).


































2007 Rachel Hallum









promoted free markets at virtually every level of the economy. The financial institutions and

governments warned the public that the short-term effects would be painful for the sake of long-

term benefits; and indeed, these painful effects were so dire that the 1980s are labeled "the lost

decade" for Latin America. The pain has been felt disproportionately by the poorest citizens,

who have experienced higher rates of unemployment at the very time social support programs

have disappeared (Weyland 2004: 144-46).

In addition to contributing to an increase rather than decrease in poverty, this free,

deregulated trade has also led to an increase in environmental degradation in the region. The

primary reason for this is due to the increase in export value for many types of non-traditional

agricultural export (NTAX) crops. For example, export data shows that traditional exports such

as sugar, coffee, cotton, cacao, tea and spices have lost in export value over the last thirty years,

ranging from a -25.3% loss in the value of sugar to a -50.4% loss for coffee. These losses have

been replaced by huge increases since 1979 in the export value of milk and dairy products

(817%); forest products (435%); and a 387% increase in the export value of NTAX crops such as

fruits, vegetables, and flowers (an industry most advanced in Mexico and Chile and strong in

Guatemala). The size and timing of this shift from traditional exports to dairy, forest products,

and non-traditional crops links it clearly to neoliberal "structural adjustments" and easing of

trade restrictions (Deere 2005: 6, 27).

Over the years, as the value of NTAX crops in Guatemala has increased, so has their

production. More and more fertile valley land is now being used for growing crops for profit.

This, in turn, has pushed the subsistence farming of Guatemala's rural poor to mountainsides,

where trees are slashed and burned to make way for corn and beans. The consequences of this

destruction are also local because it is well-documented that deforestation causes soil erosion,









Ambiente Sagrado
Monumento de la Creaci6n
Dios, Dios te ha designado como
Ejemplo y Bendicion
Caminando, caminando
Hoy nopude visitor aquellos
Inmensos arboles donde
Un dia Sali ajugar
Caminando, caminando
El aires fresco me abrazo
Y el agua se calmo
Juntos salvemos
El medio Ambiente

In English, the poem reads,

Sacred environment
Monument of Creation
God, God has designed you as a
Model and a Blessing
Walking, walking,
Today I could not see
Those immense trees where
I once used to play
Walking, walking,
The fresh air embraced me
And the water calmed me
Together, let us save
The Environment.

Clearly, Santiaga feels that the fields are more than a place of work; for her, the connection that

she has with the environment is more than physical but emotional and spiritual as well. Like

Patricia, Santiaga feels that the fields are more than a place of work. For Patricia, the fields are

like a second "home," while for Santiaga, they are a sacred place, a "Monument of Creation."

Santiaga goes on to say that to do harm to the environment is to commit a sin, and that the

deforestation that she sees around her causes her grief that she feels "in [her] heart and in [her]

spirit."









framework" that "functions to explain, maintain, and 'justify' relationships of unjustified

domination and subordination" (Warren 2000: 46). Common to these frameworks is the use of

value-hierarchical thinking that serves to legitimate inequality; the concept of privilege as

belonging to dominant groups; and the sanctioning of a "logic of domination" that assumes that

"superiority justifies subordination" (46-47). In her book Ecofeminist Philosophy, Karen Warren

identifies several hierarchical relationships that are characteristic of the global capitalist society.

She notes that in an era of globalization, capitalist-patriarchal systems and logic have been

implicated in the domination and subordination of the global South, indigenous groups, nature,

as well as women. The following section will examine the ways in which all these groups have

historically been used as "exploited resources" at the hands of capitalist-patriarchy, within the

context of Guatemala.

Capitalist-Patriarchy in Guatemala: From Colonization to Globalization

The history of capitalist-patriarchal penetration into Latin America has been a history of

violence, bloodshed, and gross human rights violations. It has also been a history of the

destruction of indigenous livelihoods as well as the environment. The roots of this history can be

traced back to the early 1500s, when Spain colonized much of what is now known as Latin

America. The colonization of Guatemala marked the country's first appearance on the world

market. It was also an extraordinarily violent process of domination and control, one that

involved the brutal conquering and repression of many indigenous groups, including the Maya of

Guatemala. To this day, the meaning of the colonization process is still hotly contested in

Guatemalan nationalist discourse, with much of the ladino population of primarily Spanish

descent emphasizing the positive aspects of colonization as a victory on behalf of "civilization,"

while many Maya choose to emphasize instead the violence of the first "meeting" between the









Spanish and indigenous groups, the rapes that produced the racial mixing of mestizaje, and the

appropriation of Maya land and culture (Nelson 1999: 12).

It was not long after the Spanish arrival that the colonizers began their systematic

appropriation and exploitation of indigenous people and resources. It is well documented that

both Maya men and women were used as slave labor on Spanish haciendas, large plantations that

cultivated and exported various agricultural crops. Even after the slaves were freed in 1550, the

dominant group's subordination of the indigenous population continued, as the former needed

the cheap labor of Mayans to increase their profit. The hacienda system was subsequently

replaced by an equally exploitative and patriarchal system of repartimiento, in which indigenous

populations were allowed to remain on their lands as long as they provided wealthy landowners

orpadrones with free labor. The padrones controlled nearly every aspect of life for the Maya

laborers, from the amount of work they did, to their living arrangements and family life (Lovell

1988; Lutz and Lovell 2000: 17).

However, the free labor that Mayans provided eventually proved to be an insufficient and

"erratic" source of wealth to materially-minded Spanish landowners, who soon turned to the land

as a means of further increasing their profits. Thus, as the export value for Guatemala's major

crop, indigo, increased, so did the Spanish exploitation of indigenous labor and land. As

landowners became increasingly involved in the systematic cultivation of indigo and other export

crops such as coffee, more and more indigenous land was appropriated and used to grow them.

This in turn led to further displacement of indigenous groups, or their gradual incorporation into

the ladino community (Pearce 1986: 15-17, Lovell 1988: 30-31).









A Feminist Project

This thesis draws from both Mohanty and Mies' call for an "anti-imperialist, anticapitalist,

and contextualized feminist project" that exposes[] and makes] visible the various, overlapping

forms of subjugation of women's lives" (Mohanty 2003: 236). The feminist project of this thesis

is to investigate the effects that policies of globalization and neoliberalism have had on both the

environment and women in rural Guatemala.

The research conducted for this thesis involves a review of fieldnotes and surveys of rural

farmers in Guatemala conducted in May and June of 2006 by staff members of an environmental

non-governmental organization (NGO). During this time, I served as part of a team of volunteer

workers who assisted the NGO, the Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR) in gathering

general fieldnotes about communities in the department of Chimaltenango, in the central

highlands of Guatemala. The research was primarily gathered from three different communities

in which AIR is currently working-Acatenango, Comalapa, and Itzapa.

The Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR)

I have been working with the Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR), for over

fifteen years, assisting with both fundraising as well as agroforestry projects. The organization is

transnational, having offices in both the United States and Chimaltenango, Guatemala. The

purpose of AIR is to combat the deleterious effects of deforestation by working with local

farmers in Guatemala to establish agroforestry programs in their communities. The farmers

work with AIR on a voluntary basis; the organization simply advertises its services in

community centers, and then farmers contact AIR's staff if they are interested in receiving

assistance. Participation in AIR's agroforestry programs is free for the farmers; the organization

provides the technical knowledge, basic tools, and seeds necessary to implement the programs.









million, with subsistence farmers in rural areas particularly affected (American Red Cross 2005;

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee 2005).



















Figure 4-2. Aftermath of mudslides near Acatenango.

Even in June, nearly nine months after Stan passed through, the communities are still

recovering, and mudslides continue to pose a threat. The torrential rains of Hurricane Stan led to

vast amounts of soil erosion here, and saturated the ground. This saturation in turn increases the

probability of future mudslides, as any additional amount of rain causes the soil to move. In

Guatemala, the rainy season runs from May through August, and in these months after Stan, soil

erosion represents a grave problem that threatens the safety of many families in highland

communities. In Acatenango, Dofia Emelia, 38, identifies mudslides as the biggest

environmental problem facing the community. She notes that,

This was only a small problem before Stan, but after Stan, a big problem. A
family in town completely lost their house because of a mudslide, and another
friend of mine has much fear because now, during this time of year, there is much
rain, and her house is at the bottom of a hill. She has a husband and three small
children, and she has fear because there is no place she can go, and every day, it
rains more, and more mud slides down. We are trying to find a house for her if
she loses hers, but it is difficult, because our houses are so small, and our families
are big, so there is not enough room. I don't know what will happen to her.









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I am indebted to everyone who has made this project possible, from my family and loved

ones, to the staff and volunteers of the Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR). My

professors, Dr. Milagros Pefia and Dr. Constance Shehan, have provided me with invaluable

patience, support, and guidance. Most of all, I am grateful to the women in Guatemala who have

allowed me the opportunity to tell their stories. May their courage and strength be an inspiration

to us all.









together." Another woman in Comalapa emphasizes that the work she does with AIR is out of a

sense of spiritual responsibility to both the earth and the people of the community. She says that,

"It is difficult to live here, yes, but it is still our home, and it is sacred to us. Not only the trees,

but the people, too. To care for the earth and for each other is to care for God." Thus, as these

women explain, their sense of responsibility to their communities has emotional, social, and

spiritual components. As they act as mothers and nurturers for the members of their families, the

women also act as providers for various members of the community through the environmental

work they do. Many women describe how connected all members of the community are, and see

how the work of one can benefit many. Dofia Fidelia from Itzapa uses a beautiful analogy to

describe this connectedness. She says, "We are all like branches on a great tree, rooted in all that

we share. When there is a sickness in the soil, then we are all affected. The concerns and

troubles of one are the concerns of many." As the women have also demonstrated, the solutions

and strength of one (or a few) can also be the strength of many.

Conclusion

The action that the women in this study took to mobilize both locally and transnationally

was action they took on behalf of their families and communities. Recognizing that they had

little chance of securing the economic and educational resources necessary to implement

methods of agroforestry in their fields, the women decided to seek the help of a transnational

NGO. As the women attest, this decision was made collectively, out of an interest of protecting

the food base that feeds not only their own families but their entire communities, which many

women described as being like extended families.

Interestingly, it is becoming evident in Itzapa, the community that has been working the

longest with AIR, that the work the women have done on behalf of their families and

communities has also benefited the women personally as well. Women have been working with









does not take into account how forces of globalization impact women and the environment in

different ways in different regions of the globe.

Second, the essentializing of the women-Nature connection does not take into account

important empirical evidence of the interconnections between the domination of women and

nature around the globe. In ignoring such evidence, these essentialist views do not sufficiently

address the "material exclusions resulting from economic forces" that result from capitalist

patriarchy's devaluation of both women and the environment. Ecofeminist Heather Eaton notes

that "the insistence upon the primacy of a women-nature connection, while illuminating

symbolic and cultural constructs, doesn't help us adequately analyze globalization as an

extension of capitalist patriarchy" (5).

Socialist Ecofeminism

One ecofeminist typology that does address issues of globalization and capitalist

patriarchy is socialist ecofeminism. Relying on empirical evidence of the domination of both

women and nature, socialist ecofeminists critique capitalism as "the latest development" in the

system of patriarchy (Mies 1986: 38). Indeed, some have argued that capitalism and patriarchy,

rather than being separate systems of exploitation and domination, are in fact "one intrinsically

interconnected system." Socialist ecofeminist Maria Mies contends that "capitalism cannot

function without patriarchy," and that "the goal of this system, namely the never-ending process

of capital accumulation, cannot be achieved unless patriarchal man-woman relations are

maintained or newly created." For Mies, women are thus considered as "exploited resources" in

the capitalist-patriarchal system (38).

However, the socialist ecofeminist critique also recognizes that not only women, but

other historically subordinated groups have been grossly exploited by capitalist-patriarchy.

Socialist ecofeminists argue that this exploitation is rooted in an "oppressive conceptual









farmers were allotted only the smallest of land plots that failed to meet the subsistence

requirements of their families (Hough et al. 1982).

The Continued Destruction of Land and People: The Violence of Capitalist Patriarchy

The 1960s and 1970s represented period of increasing industrialization and militarization

for Guatemala. After the creation of the Central American Common Market, which reduced

tariffs in order to attract foreign investors, European and Japanese investments in manufacturing

increased substantially, as did U.S. investment in agriculture. This modernization resulted in the

further displacement of rural farmers-both indigenous and ladino-as their farmlands were

once again taken over by large multi- and trans-national corporations. Often, the military, which

controlled the government during much of this period, was involved in evicting indigenous

populations from their land, and then re-selling it to corporations at speculative prices (Hamilton

and Chinchilla 2001:28). The land that was made available to the "evicted" populations of poor

indigenous and ladino farmers was often in areas that were poor for agricultural cultivation,

mostly in the mountainous highlands. Additionally, the plots that were made available to these

farmers were quite small, ranging between 0.5 to 2 hectares in size. In 1979, a widely skewed

land distribution pattern was reported, in which 88% of productive farm units were less than

family subsistence size and held only 16% of arable land, while 2% of units held a whopping

65% of arable land (Tanaka and Wittman 2003).

The dismal living conditions and continuing displacement of rural farmers were the major

"push" factors that led to dramatic increases in Guatemalan emigration in the 1960s and 1970s.

It is estimated that the number of Guatemalans entering Mexico increased from 10,000 to 15,000

annually in 1950 to 60,000 annually in the 1970s (Torres Rivas 1985: 58). Central American

immigration to the United States, where many felt there would be greater economic opportunity

for them, also increased substantially during this time, with the number of legally admitted









CHAPTER 3
MATERIALS AND METHODS

Western (Eco)feminism and Scholarship on the "Third World"

In past years, Western feminist scholarship has come under harsh, and, I would argue,

well-deserved criticism in its analyses of situations in the "Third World." In her seminal piece

"Under Western Eyes," feminist scholar Chandra Talpede Mohanty criticizes Western feminist

scholarship for the ways in which it has traditionally portrayed citizens of the Third World-and

women in particular-as "singular, monolithic subjectss" (1986: 17). She argues that this

ethnocentricc universalism" that often pervades much Western feminist scholarship is really a

new form of colonialism in that it is implicated in perpetuating relations of "structural

domination," and a suppression of those it claims to represent (18). Ecofeminist Maria Mies

similarly critiques how traditional feminist scholarship has been used as yet another instrument

of "domination and legitimation of power elites" (1993: 38).

Both Mohanty and Mies call for a radical change in the way that Western feminist

scholarship engages in discussions of the Third World. In a follow-up piece to "Under Western

Eyes," Mohanty argues that feminist scholars must "be attentive to the micropolitics of context

subjectivity, and struggle, as well as to the macropolitics of global economic and political

systems and processes" (2003: 223). Engaging in such scholarship makes homogenizing and

universalizing impossible; rather, we understand people's situations in relation to their

immediate locale and link their "everyday life and local gendered contexts and ideologies to the

larger, transnational political and economic structures and ideologies of capitalism" (225). Key,

too, to this scholarship is the idea of directionality: in situating the local within the global, we are

able to "read up the ladder of privilege," and make visible-and responsible-the global powers

that are affecting the day-to-day lives of countless people throughout the world.

































For my family and loved ones.









live within the city limits of Acatenango, or on the outskirts, their fields can be up to three

kilometers outside of the city. Their fields average about 0.5 hectares (1.24 acres) in size. It is

estimated that in Guatemala, a family of six needs between 0.6 to 1.1 hectares in order to grow

enough corn to feed themselves for a year (Fischer and Hendrickson 2003: 129). The families of

the women in this study range in size between four and eight members. Given the small sizes of

their milpa plots, all of the families in Acatenango, as well as Comalapa and Itzapa, live in what

the United Nations defines as "extreme poverty" (UNDP 2000).

Comalapa

Comalapa is a somewhat large city of nearly 30,000, located approximately fifteen miles

northwest of Chimaltenango, and ten miles southeast of the valley of Tecpan. Like Acatenango,

it is a very mountainous area. Travel to and from Comalapa is difficult, as the mountain roads

can be very steep and difficult for vehicles to traverse, particularly if it is raining. Thus, although

Comalapa is only a short distance away from the large city of Chimaltenango, it can take up to

2.5 hours to travel from one city to the other.

Most of the indigenous Maya residents of Comalapa are farmers, and tend to reside on

the outskirts of the city, closer to their fields, or in small nearby communities such as Palemos.

Located high in the mountains, these areas are quite serene and beautiful, with lush greenery and

pine forests. However, this beauty can be deceptive, as the incredibly hard, rocky soil makes it

difficult to grow crops. Additionally, the combination of loose rocks and steep slopes can make

farming not only difficult but dangerous; many farmers were observed tying ropes around their

waists and anchoring themselves to nearby trees in order to keep from tumbling down a

mountain slope. Because of the considerable struggle involved in farming, many families living

around here farm only for subsistence, as they are not able to grow enough to sell any excess. To

supplement their farming, the families may also raise chickens, goats, and occasionally cows.









A few of the women had crops that were washed away by the mudslides, with devastating

effects. Dofia Santiaga in Acatenango, says that:

After Stan, there were several families who lost everything, everything. We were
all affected, of course, but some of us were not as badly affected as others. I
know for me, it is because I plant trees with my crops, and I thank God that they
saved my field. If they had not, I, too, would have lost everything, and my family
would have nothing to eat.

Santiaga goes on to emphasize how the greatest devastation that the mudslides caused was the

destruction of so many families' milpa plots: "People come here and think 'Oh no, so many

people lost their homes' and they donate clothes, or money, or whatever. But they do not

understand that the biggest problem is that we lost our food! All these hills that are washed

away, those were the crops, the food of many families, many families." Like Santiaga, Dofia

Emelia is concerned for the well-being of her own family and others. Emelia says that she is

"devastated" by the pain that other families are going through, and while some of her crops were

damaged during Hurricane Stan, she is convinced that the trees helped to protect the majority of

them. She says, "I thank God that my fields were saved. Now more than ever my husband and I

understand the importance of planting trees with our crops. It is simple: if there are no trees,

then there are no crops, and no food for ourselves or our families."

Thus, for women in both Acatenango and Comalapa the destruction of Hurricane Stan

continues to serve as a grim, daily reminder of why they work with AIR. In Comalapa, Dofia

Lourdes contends that her crops were "saved" from Stan because of the trees she planted around

them. While AIR has only been working with farmers in Comalapa for two years, Lourdes has

been planting trees with her crops for much longer, and says that it was through her prodding that

other women in the area sought out AIR's help. She says,









of the population earning 63% of all income, while the bottom 20% earn only 2.1% of all

income. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) estimates that nearly 87% of the

population of Guatemala lives in poverty, with 67% living in "extreme poverty," defined as

income below what is needed for minimal subsistence levels and caloric intake (UNDP 2000).

Most of the residents of the communities presented in this study live in extreme poverty, many

earning annual incomes of less than 2,700 Quetzals, or about US $350. For many residents,

farming is their only means of survival, and yet this task can be quite difficult in the mountainous

highland communities. The following section explores the general environmental and farming

conditions of each community.

Acatenango

Acatenango is a relatively small town with a population of about 15,000 located

approximately fifteen miles to the southwest of the city of Chimaltenango and ten miles to the

south of the valley of Tecpan. It is in a region of Guatemala that is renowned for its coffee. This

particular area provides fertile ground for growing many types of crops, due in large part to the

rich volcanic soil found in the region. The volcano Acatenango is one of the largest in

Guatemala at 3,500 meters, and still active. The ash that it spews mixes in with the soil and

provides valuable nutrients that help with plant growth.

However, in the town of Acatenango, the most valuable, easily farmed land is used for

growing export coffee crops. Large corporations like Starbucks and Folgers contract with

growers in this region in order to supply a heavy demand for the rich coffee grown on the fertile

volcanic slopes. The subsistence farming that many of the residents depend on for survival has

in turn been gradually pushed to the steeper mountain slopes around the outskirts of the city. In

Acatenango, a group of twenty ladina farmers have been working with AIR for nearly three

years to implement methods of sustainable agriculture in their fields. While many of the women









have experienced similar problems with regards to travel, as many paved roads leading outside

of the city have collapsed as the ground underneath has given way due to over-saturation. In

poor areas on the outskirts of both of these communities, the government has done little to repair

damage done to roadways. Lourdes in Comalapa explains that, "This area is very poor, so the

government does not care much about us. This road has been covered for almost eight months,

and only once did people from the government visit, right after the hurricane. They left and

never came back, so you see how much they care about us. We have to take care of ourselves

here." While the mudslides have been especially detrimental to the women and the farmwork

they do, the women clearly view the mudslides as being a problem for the whole community.

Lourdes' skepticism regarding the government is shared by others in the group of women she

works with, and is unsurprising given the government's history of neglecting the needs of the

poor, particularly indigenous populations (Nelson 1999; Brass 2003; Sanford 2003). However,

also implicit in Lourdes' comments is a certain tenacity, and a realization that in order to

improve the present situation, the residents of Comalapa must act to "take care of [themselves]."

Conclusion

Both the Maya and ladina women farmers in this study are painfully aware of and

affected by the increasing environmental degradation occurring in their communities. As

process of globalization and neoliberalism continue to push poor farmers to the highlands, rates

of deforestation in highland communities increase as individuals slash and burn trees to make

space for corn and beans. This deforestation affects the women of these communities personally:

on an emotional level, they lament the loss of trees which many regard as "sacred;" while on a

material level, they must confront the problems of securing firewood when there is a scarcity of

trees, and they must also struggle with the difficulties of planting crops on eroding

mountainsides. Additionally, the women also recognize that the deforestation is a community-









former increases rather than decreases with use. That is, networks and relationships are

strengthened the more they are used.

For the women in this study, the groups they belong to serve as invaluable sources of

social capital, providing means of both organizing and mobilizing resources. Dofia Marta, a 43

year old Kaqchikel farmer in Itzapa, describes the importance of the women working together for

both social and financial reasons. She says, "We work together because we, as women, have

many problems. We do not have a lot of education, and the majority of us cannot read or write.

We are also very poor, but we do what we are able to help each other with these problems." As

Marta also notes, the group of women serves as a source of emotional support and solidarity as

well. She goes on: "We work together because we understand each other. Psychologically, we

understand the pain inside, and we know that we will listen to each other. We listen to each

other's problems, and we do not share them outside the group. So, yes, the group is important to

us for many reasons."

As a source of both social capital and emotional strength, the maintenance of the group

and group solidarity is, therefore, imperative. It is thus important to note that the groups in this

study are homogenous in terms of ethnic makeup. In Acatenango, the women farmers are all

ladina, while in Comalapa and Itzapa the women are all Kaqchikel Maya. This is perhaps not

surprising given the fact that the history of Guatemala has been marked by racial tensions

between ladina/o and Maya populations since the colonial period. These tensions continue to

exist independent of class structure; thus, although both ladina/o and Maya farmers may be

similarly impoverished, racism against the Maya continues to divide all class levels in Guatemala

(Menchu 1984; Nelson 1999; Fischer and Hendrickson 2003). Additionally, as the different

ethnic groups share distinctly different histories and experiences, it may be easier to maintain









took control of land, particularly along the Caribbean coastal region, where land was sparsely

settled. The largest of these companies was United Fruit, which worked closely with the

Guatemalan government to fund improvements in infrastructure for the country. In return, the

Guatemalan government allocated more land for agricultural production to United Fruit. This

land was given at the expense of rural small-scale farmers, both ladino and Maya (Hamilton and

Chinchilla 2001: 24). The increasing use of land for the cultivation of export crops also led to

higher rates of deforestation and general environmental deterioration in the region.

It is important to note that the capitalist-driven exploitation and subordination of

indigenous groups and their lands did not go uncontested. The first half of the twentieth century

was marked by a series of revolts and uprisings of both Maya and ladino farmers protesting

government and corporate land takeovers. These protests were often met with violent repression

on the part of state police. However, after a series of revolts in the early 1940s, a democratic

administration was established in Guatemala that lasted ten years, from 1945-1954. This period

saw the institution of numerous social reform policies, including the expropriation of the land of

traditional Guatemalan landowners and the United Fruit Company and its subsequent

redistribution to 100,000 peasant families (27). However, this period of socialist reform, which

is referred to in Guatemala as the "Ten Years of Spring," came to a halt in 1954 when a U.S.-led

military coup ousted Guatemalan government leaders. The overthrow of the democratic

administration, and the re-institution of military rule under caudillo leader General Ydigoras

Fuentes led to the migration of several thousands of Guatemalans to neighboring countries such

as Honduras and Mexico (ibid.). Following this overthrow, Fuentes worked with both the

military and ladino elites to institute a "top-down" redistributive land reform, in which rural









provide food, fuel, and water for many families" (2005: 24). Ecofeminist and theologian Ivone

Gebara makes a similar connection between women and the environment:

Ecofeminism is born of daily life, of day-to-day sharing among people, of
enduring together garbage in the streets, bad smells, the absence of sewers and
safe drinking water, poor nutrition and inadequate health care. The ecofeminist
issue is born of the lack of municipal garbage collection, of the multiplication of
rats, cockroaches, and mosquitoes, and of the sores on children's skin. This is
true because it is usually women who have to deal with the daily survival issues:
keeping the house clean and feeding and washing the children (1999: 2).

This close connection between women and the environment is a reality in many

developing countries, including Guatemala, where rural women as wives and/or mothers are

primarily responsible for sustenance farming. Thus, in rural Guatemala, it is very often the

women who are primarily responsible for cultivating their families' milpa, or subsistence crops

(Deere and Leon 2001: 102).

However, historically, it has been difficult to measure women's participation in farming

in Guatemala. Some ecofeminist scholars argue that such is due to capitalist patriarchy's

devaluation of women's work as being "non-productive," so that even when women work

outside the home, their work is often seen as merely an extension of their "natural" role as

caretakers (Mies 1986: 45). Thus, in capitalism, the concept of labor is usually used to refer to

men's work outside of the home, "under capitalist conditions, which means work for the

production of surplus value" (46).

This same type of devaluation is a great problem in Guatemala, where women's

subsistence work has traditionally been ignored and/or discounted, even by official surveys. In

Guatemala and other Latin American countries, it is simply the case that all productive work-

including farming-is seen as men's work. Agricultural economists Carmen Diana Deere and

Magdalena Leon write that:









this access determines if and how well they will be able to mobilize their social capital. Thus, if

individuals "do not have access to desirable goods and information (or to people who control

them), their ties, no matter how strong, may not yield any benefits" (2000: 149). Therefore,

while women farmers in Guatemala may have strong social ties, their ability to access the social

and financial resources necessary to combat environmental problems in their area is severely

limited by structural factors like impoverishment and limited opportunities for the upward social

mobility of poor women in Guatemala. As Menjivar states, "when all members of one's network

live in highly constrained conditions, links to multiple social fields that could create social

capital are practically non-existent" (156).

For women farmers in Guatemala, then, mobilizing locally to combat environmental

degradation may be necessary, but it is not sufficient. In order to break the cycle of increasing

deforestation and the myriad other problems associated with it, the women in Acatenango,

Comalapa, and Itzapa, made collective decisions in their various groups to seek outside help

from a transnational organization, the Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR). In her

book Latina Activists Across Borders (2007), feminist scholar Milagros Pefia stresses the

importance that both local and transnational networking has for women's organizations, noting

that transnational organizing serves to not only link local struggles to larger movements, but can

also allow disadvantaged populations to have access to resources they may not otherwise have.

As the women in this study explained, they made the decision to work with AIR out of necessity,

as they did not have the financial, social, or technical resources necessary to effectively address

environmental problems in their communities. As their comments illustrate, the decision to work

with AIR was primarily based in their concern for protecting the future of not only their families

but their larger communities as well.









the base of a hillside that had been recently deforested in the summer of 2005. After Hurricane

Stan passed through, a tremendous amount of soil and sediment was washed into the river, so

that the water source was dried up (see Figure 4-3). Now, women who used that pila on a daily

or weekly basis must go to another part of town, which one woman described with distaste as

being "too far away and too crowded."






















Figure 4-3. River on the outskirts of Acatenango that was covered over by a mudslide.

Travel has also been affected by deforestation and the resulting soil erosion in and around

the communities. Shortly after Hurricane Stan passed through, a mudslide covered one main

road in Comalapa. Although few individuals own cars or trucks in this area, it was not

uncommon for as many as ten farmers to crowd into a truck on their way to their fields, which

can be as far as seven kilometers, or four miles away. Now, the mudslide has made this road

inaccessible to vehicles, and farmers must walk to their fields, carrying their tools on their backs.

Dofa Sofia, 33, and Dofa Mona must walk at least five kilometers, or about three miles on steep

roads and paths in order to get to their milpa plots, which border each other. In Itzapa, farmers
Travel~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~ ~~~~. -f... ,.,be fetdbydfrsainadth eutn oilers nadao
the~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~~ co,: tes Shotl afe urcn tnpse ho, a .,. vre nem
road~ ~ ~ ~~~ ~~~~~~~~,. .- Coa.pa ,uhfwidviul w asortuk nti aei a
uncommon ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~. 1 f-- -an as ,e amr ocodit rc nterwyt hi ils h
"a be as fa ssvnklmtro:"u ie wy otemusiehsmd hsra









Finally, I am concerned with how to best address problems of scholarly language,

particularly with regard to the "politics of naming." In her article "Changing the Terms,"

feminist scholar Nancy Naples notes that "how we explicate and frame our approach to the

intersection of global and local organizing says a great deal about out political orientation,

disciplinary assumptions, and cross-cultural sensibility" (2000: 5). The term "Third World," for

instance, has been used since the early 1980s to refer to "underdeveloped or developing nations

that were economically disadvantaged and therefore dependent on First World nations for

financial, scientific, and technical assistance" ibidd). However, this term has been criticized by

feminists who argue that it discursively justifies the construction of First World countries in

North America and Western Europe as dominant and more advanced. Additionally, the use of

the term "Third World" may contribute to the "othering" of women in these countries. Feminist

scholars have proposed alternative terms, such as the "Two-thirds World," which has been used

to refer to women living in Third World nations, and brings attention to the fact that at least two

thirds of the world's population live in countries with low average per-capita income (Bulbeck

2006: 38).

Third World countries have also been referred to as "developing" in the discourse of

globalization. Such a term is equally problematic, as it places the notion of "development" as a

goal that countries should strive to achieve. Therefore, developing countries like Guatemala are

seen as lagging behind "developed" countries like the United States. Some feminist scholars

have argued that instead of describing various First World countries as developed, we should

instead use the term "overdeveloped" (Minh-ha 1989).

For the purposes of this paper, I will periodically use the term "North" to refer to countries

generally considered to be part of the First World, as well as the term "South" to refer to









CHAPTER 2
THEORETICAL AND LITERATURE REVIEW

One of the most important developments in theory that links women to the environment

has been the advent of ecofeminism. According to scholar Heather Eaton, ecofeminism can be

broadly defined as "a convergence of the ecological and feminist analyses and movements," and

represents "varieties of theoretical, practical, and critical efforts to understand and resist the

interrelated dominations of women and nature" (2005: 11). Activism is also considered to be a

key part of ecofeminism (Sturgeon 1997).

However, it is important to note that under the broad umbrella of ecofeminism, there

exists a wide array of theoretical frameworks. In her book Ecofeminist Philosophy, scholar

Karren Warren identifies as many as ten ecofeminist theories: historical, conceptual, empirical,

socialist, linguistic, symbolic and literary, spiritual and religious, epistemological, political, and

ethical (2000: 21). Not all of these theories have been highly regarded by the academic

community. Spiritual and religious ecofeminism in particular has been subject to critiques of

essentialism, homogenization of women as a group, romanticism, and political naivety (Agarwal

1992; Sydee and Beder 2001).

The tendency of some types of ecofeminism-particularly those that developed in more

affluent nations in the West and North-to essentialize and homogenize women is highly

problematic, for several reasons. First, the homogenization of women as a group ignores

important differences of class, culture, and race between women, and also ignores "the plight of

impoverished women from less affluent nations" (Eaton and Lorentzen 2003: 5). To consider all

women as being equally subordinated under patriarchy, and as experiencing the consequences of

environmental degradation equally is misleading and uncritical, and socially unliberatory. It also









The farm work that the women in this study are involved with places them in direct and

immediate contact with their local environment on a regular basis. As farmers, the women are

intimately aware of any amount of environmental degradation occurring in their communities

and in the areas where they farm. When asked about the major environmental problems facing

their communities, the women responded clearly and unequivocally that deforestation and soil

erosion constituted the biggest threats.

Deforestation

In each of the communities, the women are long term residents. Many have grown up in

the same area together and are life-long friends. The fact that they have lived in the areas so long

means that the women are able to see how gradually, more and more trees are being cleared from

surrounding areas to make way for farming. Dofia Fidelia, a Kaqchikel Maya, is the oldest in the

group of women working in Itzapa. At over eighty years old, and a lifelong resident, she has

seen many changes and upheavals in her community over the years. She notes that the problem

of deforestation has gotten worse in recent years:

Now [deforestation] is worse, and it sickens me. I have always planted trees with
my milpa. It is the way my family has always done it. We have always
understood the importance of trees, for the soil, for the water, for our crops, and
for firewood. But now, people come in and cut them down, and they do not
understand what they are doing. And yes, it has gotten worse, especially because
people need trees for firewood, and now there are less and less trees. Last week,
at night, people came and cut two of my casuarinas. I have never had that
problem before, people stealing trees!

The increasing deforestation in her community means that Dofia Fidelia is now having to deal

with problems she has never before had to address in over eighty years of living in Itzapa. In

addition to distressing her emotionally, the problem of increased deforestation is also directly

impacting her livelihood, as people are invading her property to steal her resources. Her

concerns are shared by other women who were interviewed. Dofia Cecilia, a 43 year old ladina









APPENDIX B
GUIDING QUESTIONS (ENGLISH)

Questions

1. How long have you been living in this community?
2. How long have you been working with this group of women?
3. Do you feel it is important for women to work together? Why or why not?
4. Why did they group decide to work with AIR?
5. In your opinion, what are the biggest environmental problems facing your community?
6. What sort of difficulties have these problems caused your community in general, and you in
particular?
7. Do you consider yourself the primary farmer of your family's milpa?
8. Are you married?

If yes, ask questions 9 and 10. If no, go on to question 11.

9. Does your husband help with the work you do with AIR?
10. What sort of attitude does your husband have about your work with AIR?
11. In general, what is the attitude of men in the community about the work you do with AIR?
12. Have you seen any benefits from your work with AIR? What type of benefits?

Thank you for your time and help!









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

In recent decades, scholars have coined the term "globalization" to refer to processes of

global economic restructuring, with a specific "economic and technological agenda that alters

basic modes of cultural organization and international exchange in many parts of the world"

(Eaton and Lorentzen 2003: 4). While proponents of globalization declare "endless benefits

from the exchange of capital on a global scale," others critique the notion that globalization is

beneficial for everyone. These critics argue that policies of globalization are reordering the flow

of capital and wealth within a "global and hegemonic economic regime" that serves only the

interests of the elite and rich (5). In a globalized economy, economic and political power is

being increasingly granted to institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the

World Bank, as well as many trans- and multi-national corporations, often at the expense of the

self-governance of many "Third World" nations. Policies of free trade are designed to serve the

interests of these institutions and corporations rather than the nations' citizens. Thus, as scholar

Heather Eaton notes, "as a result of some globalization initiatives, there is a deterioration in

educational and health systems, a rise in infant mortality, and a decline in democratic pluralism."

Additionally, more and more countries are being "coerced" into export dependant economies

(2003: 25). Finally, policies of globalization and industrial development have been linked with

the increasing degradation of the environment. These consequences of globalization have led

some to characterize the phenomenon as one of "vast human misery" and environmental

devastation (Ruether 2003: vii).

The Current Ecological Crisis

The connection between the alarming rate of environmental destruction and the rise of

globalization is not coincidental. Over the past few decades, the world has witnessed a rise in









reduced rainfall, and sediment-clogged waterways. The absence of established forests on

mountainsides also intensifies the devastation of hurricanes and flooding (Carr 2003).

The increased agricultural production also results in increased pesticide and chemical

fertilizer use, both of which have a harmful impact not only on Guatemala's environment, but on

rural populations. Many large scale growers admit to using up to twenty applications per

growing cycle (Hamilton and Fischer 2003: 95). The pesticide use in turn affects local

environmental quality as it destroys various forms of plant and animal life. Agricultural run-off

containing pesticide residue also results in the contamination of water sources, affecting the

health of rural populations. The Guatemalan government sponsored research on pesticide use in

1997 through the Pesticides and Health Project (Plagsalud). The project reported that while

agrochemical poisoning is rarely reported by farmers, nearly 2 million people living in rural

areas come into direct contact with chemical pesticides on a daily basis. The project also

indicated that while some pesticides were used by small-scale landowners and subsistence

farmers, the vast majority were used on crops intended for export to the United States and

Europe (PAHO 1998). Thus, as noted by socialist ecofeminists Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva,

"the economic, social, and ecological costs of constant growth in the industrialized countries

have been and are shifted to the colonized countries of the South, to those countries'

environment and their peoples" (1993: 58).

Clearly, the neoliberal policies of Guatemala have not affected everyone equally or in the

same ways in the years since their implementation. While large-scale landowners and other

capitalists have benefited, others have suffered; namely, the rural poor, the vast majority of

whom are indigenous. As we have seen, indigenous Maya have a history of subordination,

exploitation, and displacement in Guatemala as first the colonizers and now capitalists take









global industry and a corresponding decline in environmental quality so severe that the present

period has been called one of "ecological crisis" (Eaton 2005: 8). Increasing industrialization

has led to rampant deforestation and pollution, both of which contribute to global warming. In

2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that the rise in

temperature over the past decade has been "unprecedented" in the last 10,000 years (IPCC 2007).

Industrial pollution also affects water resources, contaminating fresh water sources

through run-off and the leaking of harmful chemicals. Currently, the United Nations estimates

that 20% of the global population is without access to safe drinking water, and that water

pollution affects the health of 1.2 billion people worldwide (UNEP 2006).

Globalization, Environmental Degradation, and Women

It is important to note, however, that like globalization, environmental degradation does

not affect everyone equally. Much of the present-day depletion and contamination of natural

resources disproportionately affects the poorer nations of the world. It is also a generally agreed

upon fact in the academic community that in these poor nations, the poorest citizens are "the

hardest hit by the degradation of environmental conditions." The majority of these poor

citizens-nearly 70%-are women and girls (Mohanty 2003: 234). This association between the

degradation of the environment and the decline in well-being for women was also acknowledged

by the United Nations when it reported in 1989 that, "It is now a universally established fact that

it is the woman who is the worst victim of environmental destruction. The poorer she is, the

greater her burden" (quoted in Philiopose 1989: 67).

What is it that links the well-being of women in poor nations with the well-being of the

environment? Why is it that, in these parts of the world, "environmental problems

disproportionately affect women" (Eaton 2003: 24)? This thesis seeks to explore the links

between historical processes of globalization, environmental degradation, and the status of









The sacred quality of the environment was also expressed by many Maya women

farmers, and is perhaps not surprising, given the great importance that Maya culture has

traditionally placed on farming and on people's connection to the land. In her memoir, Maya

activist Rigoberta Menchu repeatedly notes how the earth, the seed, and corn are all recognized

as the main sources of sustenance and therefore "sacred" for many Maya (1984). It is also not

uncommon for religious ceremonies to be held in rural Maya households when corn is both

planted and harvested, and it is considered a sin by many Maya to use land in a wasteful manner

(Menchu 1984; Montejo 1999; Fischer and Hendrickson 2003; Fischer 2004). Dofia Lourdes, a

Kaqchikel farmer in her mid-40s in Comalapa, laments the deforestation in the area, a sadness

that she says is shared by the other Kaqchikel women she works with. She notes,

Of course this [deforestation] is a problem, a big problem that concerns us and
saddens us. Everytime I walked down the road, and I would see more trees cut,
more naked land, my heart would cry. It would cry for what we have lost, what
has been wasted, and also for what we will lose, for our future, for our children.

Lourdes' sadness and sense of loss is related to the ways in which the valuable, sacred land

around her community has been mistreated and "wasted." Her sadness is also related to the

value of trees and the land in sustaining the community. When the land is mistreated, as she

notes, the future of the community is placed in jeopardy. Dofia Fidelia, the elderly farmer in

Itzapa, expresses a similar sense of loss and concern for the future when she talks about the

deforestation of her area.

It is especially sad to know that so many Maya are doing this to the land. We are
farmers, and we have always been farmers, and people are supposed to know
better! But people have forgotten that they are Maya, and they have forgotten
how to care properly for the land, and now we have these problems. I try to tell
people, to remind them of the importance of caring for the land. I show them my
field, how strong the crops are, how great the trees are, and I tell them that the
crops are strong because the trees are strong! People must listen, they must
understand, because if they do not... our land will forget us the way that we have
forgotten it.









decision to seek out AIR's help was a decision that would benefit the entire community. Dofia

Emelia, whose friend lost many of her crops because of Stan and is now in danger of losing her

house, says that "No one should have to experience the problems that so many in Acatenango are

experiencing. We realized this, and we realized that if we wanted to improve our situation, we

had to ask for help." Dofia Clementina, also from Acatenango, agrees. She says that, "The work

that we do here today with AIR gives all of us hope for a better future, with clean air, clean

water, and strong crops." Thus, the motivation behind the women's decision to work with AIR

is rooted in a concern for preserving the health and safety of not one or two families but all the

members of the community.

Similar sentiments were expressed by women in Comalapa and Itzapa. As nearly all the

women in this study are lifelong residents of their communities, they have close ties with many

other individuals and families in the area. Many women spoke of their close relationships with

others in the community, and as one women in Comalapa stated, "We may not all be friends

here, but we do care for each other. There are no strangers here." The concern with protecting

the community is therefore a heartfelt, sincere, and emotional one. Another woman in Comalapa

says that,

This work that we do [with AIR], we recognize that it is not only for us, for our
families, it is for all of us, for everyone who lives here. I hope that more and
more people here see the importance of the work we do, that it is not selfish work,
but that we work for everyone. We all live here, many of us were children here
together, and we have helped each other in the past. We must continue to help
each other now, today.

Dofia Marta in Itzapa expresses a similar sentiment when talking about working on behalf

of the community: "Because we are all close here, because we all know the troubles and joys and

weaknesses and strengths of our town, we are concerned for its future. We all live here together,

and we share the same troubles. Therefore, in order to overcome these troubles, we must work









Significantly, most of the farmers who seek out the assistance of AIR-nearly 77%-are

women.

AIR has been working in Guatemala for fifteen years, and in this time, has worked with

over 50 communities throughout the department of Chimaltenango. AIR staff includes six

tecnicos, or field extension agents. Three of the tecnicos are indigenous Maya and fluent in both

Spanish and Kaqchikel. The tecnicos also hold degrees in agroforestry and are trained in

community farming methods. One tecnico will work with farmers in a particular community for

up to five years to ensure the continued success and sustainability of the community's tree

nurseries and agroforestry projects.

Each year, the tecnicos, along with other volunteers, conduct a series of both field

observations and interviews in various communities with which AIR works. The purpose of

these observations and interviews is to obtain detailed information on the general environmental

and economic condition of each community, as well as the number and makeup of the group of

farmers in the community (including how many men and women are involved, and how many of

the farmers are indigenous). This information is recorded and compiled in an annual report and

other reports on the work of farmers.

In the summer of 2006, AIR staff and volunteers conducted both field observations and

interviews with women farmers in three communities in the department of Chimaltenango,

Guatemala. In these communities-Acatenango, Comalapa, and Itzapa-AIR works extensively

with groups of women farmers to help them implement agroforestry projects in their fields.

These groups range in size between 20 and 40 members and are comprised of both ladina and

indigenous Maya women. For this study, seven women farmers were interviewed in

Acatenango, five in Comalapa, and eight in Itzapa. The women all volunteered to be









A MATTER OF SURVIVAL: WOMEN, SUBSISTENCE FARMING, AND
ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION IN RURAL GUATEMALA




















By

RACHEL HALLUM


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2007









note, the deforested mountainsides of the central Guatemalan highlands have become "symbols"

of such socio-historical issues as "unequal access to quality agricultural land, the ecological

issues of deforestation, and political favoritism in the use of community resources" (2).

However, for the farmers who grow their subsistence crops in these areas, the deforested

mountains are more than symbols; they are realities that must be faced every day. The women

farmers in this study all confront the problems of cultivating crops for their families' survival in

the difficult, unforgiving terrain of the highlands of Chimaltenango.





















Figure 4-1. Deforested hillside in the Department of Chimaltenango.

As it is so difficult to cultivate crops here for one's family, let alone for one's income,

many of the residents of the highland communities are impoverished. In Guatemala, the more

rural areas tend to have the highest rates of poverty, as most of the wealthy elite of the country

reside in large houses behind high walls in urban centers like Guatemala City or Antigua

(Fischer and Hendrickson 2003: 27). The lives of the elite in Guatemala are a far cry from the

lives of the rural poor, and Guatemala is notorious for high rates of inequality, with the top 20%









situation? This thesis seeks to answer these and other questions using the previously outlined

socialist ecofeminist framework. Using this framework will allow for an analysis of important

connections between the exploitation of women and nature in the global South, in the context of

rural Guatemala. This framework will also allow for an analysis of how decisions made at a

global level impact the day-to-day lives of women in Guatemala. Perhaps most importantly,

however, this framework will allow for an imputation of responsibility to the agents of

globalization whose policies have resulted in mass environmental devastation and

correspondingly, a decline in the quality of life for millions of people like the women of rural

Guatemala.









Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

A MATTER OF SURVIVAL: WOMEN, SUBSISTENCE FARMING, AND
ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION IN RURAL GUATEMALA

By

Rachel M. Hallum

August 2007

Chair: Milagros Pefia
Major: Sociology

This study uses a socialist ecofeminist framework to explore the historical and material

links between environmental degradation and women's roles as subsistence farmers in rural

Guatemala. Data was gathered from interviews with 20 women farmers, as well as observational

research, to explore how women's work is specifically affected by processes and policies of

development in Guatemala. Results reveal that development processes have led to greater

deforestation and soil erosion in the areas where poor women farm for themselves and their

families. Despite the difficulties that the women face, they are more than victims of their

situation; rather they have begun mobilizing both locally and transnationally to combat the

environmental problems confronting their families and communities. The study concludes by

calling for policy makers to take into account the roles that women farmers play in preserving the

environment in places like rural Guatemala. Ideas for future research are also discussed.









Eaton, Heather and Lois Ann Lorentzen, eds. 2003. Ecofeminism and Globalization: Exploring
Culture, Context, andReligion. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.

Falla, Ricardo. 1992. Massacres in the Jungle. Guatemala City: Editorial Universitario.

Gebara, Ivone. 1999. Longing for Running Water: Ecofeminism and Liberation. Minneapolis:
Fortress Press.

Fischer, Edward F. 2004. "The Janus Face of Globalization: Economic Production and Cultural
Reproduction in Highland Guatemala." Pp. 257-290 in Pluralizing Ethnography, edited
by J.M. Watanabe and E.F. Fischer. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.

Fischer, Edward F. and Carol Hendrickson. 2003. Tecpan Guatemala: A Modern Maya Town
in Global and Local Context. Boulder: Westview.

Hamilton, Nora and Norma Stoltz Chinchilla. 2001. Seeking Community in a Global City:
Guatemalans and Salvadorans in Los Angeles. Philadelphia: Temple.

Hamilton, Sarah and Edward F. Fischer. 2003. "Non-Traditional Agricultural Exports in
Highland Guatemala: Understandings of Risk and Perceptions of Change. Latin
American Research Review 38: 82-110.

Hough, Richard, John Kelly, and Stephen Miller. 1982. Tierray trabajo en Guatemala: Un
evaluaci6n. Guatemala City: Ediciones Papiro.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2007. Climate Change 2007: The Physical
Science Basis. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Kleysen, Brenda and Fabiola Campillo. 1996. Productoras de Alimentos en 18 Paises de America
Latinay el Caribe. San Jose, Costa Rica: Instituto Interamericano de Cooperacion para la
Agriculture.

La Feber, Walter. 1993. Inevitable Revolutions: the United States in Central America. New
York: W.W. Norton.

Lovell, W. George. 1988. "Surviving Conquest: The Maya of Guatemala in Historical
Perspective." Latin American Research Review 23: 25-57.

Lutz, Christopher H. and W. George Lovell. 2000. "Survivors on the Move: Maya Migration in
Time and Space." Pp 200-210 in The Maya Diaspora: Guatemalan Roots, New American
Lives, edited by J. Loucky and M.M. Moors. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Menchu, Rigoberta. 1984. I, RigobertaMenchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala. London:
Verso.









TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ..............................................................................................................4

LIST OF FIGURES .................................. .. ..... ..... ................. .7

A B S T R A C T ......... ....................... .................. .......................... ................ .. 8

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION ............... ................. ........... ................................ .9

The Current E cological C risis ........................................................................................ 9
Globalization, Environmental Degradation, and Women...........................................10

2 THEORETICAL AND LITERATURE REVIEW....................................... ..................12

Socialist Ecofem inism .............. ..... .. .. ...... ... .. ................... ................ 13
Capitalist-Patriarchy in Guatemala: From Colonization to Globalization ...........................14
The Rise of Big Agriculture and Big Industry and the Exploitation of the Global
South ......................... ..... .... ........... ..... ................ ..... .. ........ ........... 16
The Continued Destruction of Land and People: The Violence of Capitalist
Patriarchy ......................... ...... ....... ...................... ...... ............ 18
Effects of Policies of Globalization and Neoliberalism ............ ...............................20
Rural Women and the Environment in Modern Guatemala..............................23

3 M A TER IA L S A N D M ETH O D S ........................................ .............................................27

Western (Eco)feminism and Scholarship on the "Third World".......... ........................27
A Fem insist Proj ect ................... .............................................................. ... 28
The Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR) ................ .............................. 28
C on cern s .............................................................................................. 3 1

4 ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AND WOMEN IN THE COMMUNITIES ..........35

H ighlan d C om m u nities ..... ..... ............................ ......................... ...... ................. .. 3 5
A c a te n a n g o ............... ........................................................................ 3 7
C om alapa ............................................................. ......................... 38
Itz a p a .............. .... ............................................................... 3 9
W om en Farm ers ................................................. 40
D e fo re station n ..................................................................................................................... 4 1
E m otional C onsequences......................................................................... .................. 42
M material C on sequ ences.......................................................................... ....................4 5
Storms and Mudslides........... ........ ......... ... .. ... .... ..................47
C o n c lu sio n ................... .......... ............................................... ................ 5 1









APPENDIX A
GUIDING QUESTIONS (SPANISH)

Preguntas

1. ,Cuanto tiempo lleva viviendo en su comunidad?
2. ,Cuanto tiempo lleva trabajando con su grupo de mujeres?
3. Siente usted que es important que las mujeres trabaj en juntas? Por que o por que no?
4. Por que raz6n el grupo decidio trabajar con AIRES?
5. iEn su opinion, cuales son los problems ambientales mas grandes con la que su comunidad se
escuentra?
6. iEn general, que tipo de dificultades han estos problems causado en su comunidad y a usted
en particular?
7. iSe consider usted la agricultora principal de la milpa de la familiar?
8. iEsta Casada?

(Si contest si, prosiga con preguntas 9 y 10. Si contest no, salte a pregunta 11).

9. iSu marido la ayuda con el trabajo que hace con AIRES?
10. ,Que tipo de actitud tiene su marido respect al trabajo que hace con AIRES?
11. iEn general, cual es la actitud de los hombres en la comunidad respect al trabajo que hace
con AIRES?
12. En su trabajo con AIRES, ha usted visto algun benefico? iQue tipo de beneficios?

Muchisimas gracias por todo!









I was able to group similar items according to defined properties, and thereby develop concepts

(121). My familiarity with feminist and ecofeminist literature was helpful in identifying common

themes that emerged from the data during this phase. For example, as many ecofeminists have

pointed out, in many parts of the world women are responsible for subsistence farming, and are

therefore affected as farmers by environmental degradation in their communities. As noted by

Gebara (1999), Shiva (1989), and others, many tasks relating to women's farm work-including

gathering firewood and water, planting and harvesting-have been adversely impacted by

processes of deforestation and soil, air, and water pollution. This theme in ecofeminist literature

served to "enhance [my] sensitivity" to this theme in the data, as I was more readily able to

identify the various, subtle ways in which the women farmers' work in Guatemala has been

affected by deforestation in their communities (Strauss and Corbin 1998: 49).

Following this open coding phase of analysis, I then attempted to link these discrete

concepts at the level of their properties and dimensions to form larger conceptual categories in

the process of axial coding (123). Thus, tasks relating specifically to women's farmwork,

including gathering firewood, cultivating crops, and cooking, were linked and grouped within the

larger, more general category of genderedd division of labor." Finally, I again referred to the

ecofeminist literature to assist me in both checking the validity of the data, as well as refining the

conceptual framework used to explain the data.

Concerns

My main concerns with this project revolve around the ways in which the data were

collected, how that data was interpreted, and how the data is presented. Feminist scholarship

requires that researchers be reflexive of their position of privilege in relation to their participants,

and be attentive to the corresponding power differences (Mohanty 2003: 224). Feminist

scholarship also acknowledges that there is no such thing as objective, value-free research.









However, scholarly research has only begun to reveal the nature of the complexities and

potentialities that characterize the relationship between the environment and women throughout

the world. This relationship is complex and dynamic, and varies according to nation, race, class,

and a host of other social markers. The more we learn about these connections, however, the

better equipped we can be to challenge the system of capitalist-patriarchy that is implicated in

both the exploitation of women as well as the natural world. As Dofia Marta in Itzapa says,

"People must recognize this: that we are all connected, not only to each other, but to the natural

world. When we learn to care for each other, to not take advantage of each other, for money or

other reasons, only then can there be equality and peace. We women here, in Itzapa, and in many

other places, I think, recognize this. Now we just have to teach everyone else."









Philipose, Pamela. 1989. "Women Act: Women and Environmental Protection in India." Pp.
67-75 in Healing the Wounds: The Promise ofEcofeminism, edited by J. Plant. Toronto:
Between the Lines.

Ress, Mary Judith. 2006. Ecofeminism in Latin America. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis.

Ruether, Rosemary Radford. 1996. Women Healing Earth: Third World Women on Ecology,
Feminism, andReligion. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis.

------. 2003. "Foreword: Ecofeminism and the Challenges of Globalization." Pp. vii-xii in
Ecofeminism and Globalization: Exploring Culture, Context, and Religion, edited by H
Eaton and L.A. Lorentzen. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.

------. 2005. Integrating Ecofeminism, Globalization, and World Religions. New York: Rowman
and Littlefield.

Sanford, Victoria. Buried Secrets: Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala. New York: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2003.

Shiva, Vandana. 1989. StayingAlive: Women, Ecology, and Development. London: Zed.

------. 2000. "War Against Nature and the People of the South." Pp. 91-125 in Views
From the S.inih, edited by S. Anderson. Chicago: Food First Books.

Stone, Michael C. 2000. "Becoming Belizean: Maya Identity and the Politics of Nation." Pp.
90-100 in The Maya Diaspora: Guatemalan Roots, New American Lives, edited by J.
Loucky and M. M. Moors. Philadelphia: Temple.

Strauss, Anselm and Juliet Corbin. 1998. Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and
Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Sturgeon, Noel. 1997. Ecofeminist Natures: Race, Gender, Feminist Theory, and Political
Action. New York: Routledge.

Sydee, Jasmin and Sharon Beder. 2001. "Ecofeminism and Globalization: A Critical
Appraisal." Democracy andNature 7 (2):281-302.

Tanaka, Laura Saldivar and Hannah Wittman. 2003. Backgrounder Part I: The Agrarian
Question in Guatemala. Oakland, CA: Land Research Action Network.

Torres Rivas, Edelberto. 1985. "Report on the Condition of Central American Refugees and
Migrants." Washington, D.C.: CIPRA.

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC). 2005. "Hurricane Stan Strikes: Floods,
mudslides cause death and despair in Guatemala." UUSC Annual Report. Washington,
D.C.: American Red Cross Press.









interviewed, and were able to take time away from their day to meet with the interviewers. While

AIR staff members have experience in conducting similar interviews, they were reminded to

inform the women that their responses would be kept completely confidential, and that their

answers may be used in AIR's reports, as well as an academic research paper on women and the

environment. Each interviewer was provided with a set of guiding questions to ask each woman,

and was instructed to record her answers as accurately as possible (see Appendices A and B for

guiding questions). No recording devices were used due in part to a lack of financial resources,

as well as a general agreement amongst AIR staff and volunteers that many women may be

reluctant to be tape recorded. Throughout this paper, the names of the cities and geographic

landmarks have remained unchanged, while the names of the women are false in order to assure

confidentiality.

In addition to the interviews, a total of fifteen observational studies were conducted, with

five studies ranging from one to six hours conducted in each of the three communities. The

fieldnotes based on these observations contain important information on the nature of the

environment and environmental degradation (if any) in the communities, as well as general

information on the population of the community, what percent of the community is indigenous,

etc. These observations served to supplement the interviews, providing a way of establishing

both the reliability and validity of the data obtained from the interviews.

For this thesis, I reviewed the notes from both the interviews and field observations

conducted by AIR staff and volunteers in Acatenango, Comalapa, and Itzapa, utilizing the

grounded theory method as outlined by Strauss and Corbin (1998) in order to analyze the data.

Upon my initial reviews of the data, during the "open coding" phase of analysis, I identified and

tentatively labeled similarities that became apparent across interviews. At this phase of analysis,









AIR in Itzapa for nearly seven years, and have seen marked improvements in both the quality

and quantity of crops that their fields produce. Both Marta and Erelena report that their crop

yields have nearly doubled since they first began planting trees in their fields with AIR's

assistance. Now, the women have enough crops to feed their families, with some left over to sell

for profit. Both women have started advertising their crops within Itzapa, highlighting the fact

that they are grown organically, without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Erelena notes that the

demand for organically grown crops is increasing, as there have been many reported cases of

people becoming sick from crops sprayed with chemicals.

With the money they have made from selling their crops, both women have started

working with other women in their group to start a business of making and selling herbal

shampoos, conditioners, and soaps. These products are made from plants that the women grow

with their crops, including aloe, sebilla, and manzanilla. Marta reports that the business is doing

"very well" and has helped to supplement the incomes of the families of the women who are

involved with it (see Figure 5-2).


Figure 5-2. Label of manzanilla shampoo made by group of women in Itzapa.









BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Rachel Hallum is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Florida. Her main

areas of interest are gender, women's studies, race relations, and Latin American studies. She

has been working with the Guatemalan-based non-governmental organization, the Alliance for

International Reforestation, since 1992.









Menjivar, Cecelia. 2000. Fragmented Ties: Salvadoran Immigrant Networks in America.
Berkeley: University of California Press.

Mies, Maria. 1986. Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale. London: Zed.

Mies, Maria and Vandana Shiva. (1993). Ecofeminism. London: Zed.

Minh-ha, Trinh T. 1989. Woman, Native, Other. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. 1986. "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial
Discourses." Pp. 17-42 in Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing
Solidarity, edited by C.T. Mohanty. Durham: Duke University Press.

------. 1997. "Women Workers and Capitalist Scripts: Ideologies of Domination, Common
Interests, and the Politics of Solidarity." Pp. 3-29 in Feminist Genealogies, Colonial
Legacies, Democratic Futures, edited by M.J Aexander and C.T. Mohanty. New York:
Routledge.

------. 2003. "Under Western Eyes Revisited: Feminist Solidarity Through Anticapitalist
Struggles." Pp. 221-237 in Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing
Solidarity, edited by C.T. Mohanty. Durham: Duke University Press.

Montej o, Victor. 1999. Voices From Exile: Violence and Survival in Modern Maya History.
Norman, OK: Oklahoma University Press.

Naples, Nancy. 2002. "Changing the Terms." Pp. 1-14 in Women's Activism and
Globalization: Linking Local Struggles and Transnational Politics, edited by N. Naples
and M. Desai. New York: Routledge.

Nash, June and Maria Patricia-Fernandez-Kelley, eds. 1983. Women, Men, and the International
Division ofLabor. New York: State University of New York Press.

Nelson, Diane M. 1999. A Finger in the Wound: Body Politics in Quincentennial Guatemala.
Berkeley: University of California Press.

Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). 1998. Health in the Americas, Volume II. Washington,
D.C.: World Health Organization.

Pearce, Jenny. 1986. Promised Land: Peasant Rebellion in Chalatenango, El Salvador.
London: Latin American Bureau.

Pefia, Milagros. 2007. Latina Activists Across Borders: Women's Grassroots Organizing in
Mexico and Texas. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.









immigrants more than tripling from 45,000 annually in the 1950s to 143,000 annually in the

1970s (60). The continued tradition of displacement and migration was especially traumatic for

Maya, whose religion and culture emphasize the importance of attachment and cultivation of

one's land; indeed, many scholars have characterized traditional Maya religions as "place based"

religions. Thus, displacement for many of these indigenous groups was more than traumatic; it

was sacrilegious (Stone 2000; Montejo 2000).

Violence against rural populations in Guatemala continued into the next decade, when

brutal military regimes forced hundreds of thousands to flee. During the 1980s, and the

especially vicious regimes of Generals Lucas Garcia and Rios Montt, clashes between guerilla

opposition groups and rural farmers and the military controlled Guatemalan government severely

escalated. Under the command of these two caudillo leaders, the military targeted rural

communities where insurgents were believed to be hiding; often, whole villages were massacred,

as was the case in El Mozote in November 1981, where 750 men, women, and children were

killed (Danner 1994). The fact that all villages targeted for destruction had been indigenous

Maya, and the fact that 83% of those killed were Maya, have led many to conclude that what

may have begun as a civil war turned into a systematic campaign of genocide on the part of the

Guatemalan government and military, which was deemed to be responsible for over 93% of the

casualties (Falla 1993; Churchill 1998; CEH 1999; Sanford 2003).

Not surprisingly, during this time the number of political and economic refugees from

Guatemala increased exponentially, as an estimated 1 million people were forced to flee from

their homes between 1980 and 1983 (Lovell 1988). The high level of violence continued until

the mid 1980s, when Vinico Cerezo Aravelo was elected president and re-instituted democratic

rule. It was more than ten years, however, until a peace treaty was signed in 1996, bringing an









is a construction worker, initially made fun of the group of women when they decided to seek

AIR's help. She says that,

At first, when we first started working with AIR, he would always laugh when I
told him about planting trees. He would say 'Oh, we had to cut down many trees
today, so you and your friends better go plant some more....' But now, after five
years, our crops have doubled. And a neighbor of ours, after Stan, lost nearly 300
pounds of beans because he did not have any trees with his fields. He, too, used
to make fun of us. Now, he does not laugh, and neither does my husband.

Dofia Marta, also from Itzapa, similarly notes how men and women treat the environment

differently. Like Erelena's husband, Dofia Marta's husband was skeptical about the women's

decision to work with AIR. According to Marta, despite considerable improvements in their

crop yields since she began planting with trees, her husband still fails to acknowledge how

important the trees are. She says,

He just sees the trees as firewood, and even now, after our crops have more than
doubled, he still asks me why I bother to plant trees. It makes me furious, and I
reply, 'Why do I bother? I bother to plant trees because I have a family, because I
have children to feed, and because I care about their future. I want them to have
food, and I want them to have clean air, and water, and hope.' But he always
thinks so negatively, and it is so difficult to make him understand that the trees are
more than tools; they are our future.

Thus, for the husbands of some women in Itzapa, trees and the environment have only

utilitarian value as "tools" to construct or cook with. In other communities, women also noted

how men and women approached farming with different attitudes. In Comalapa, many of the

men in the community are employed at large plantations nearby, working to grow export crops

such as snow peas and cabbage. Many of these men are required by the plantation owners to

spray the crops with chemical pesticides on a regular basis, and some men use the same

pesticides on their own milpa crops. One woman in Comalapa tells a story of how she was

angered when her husband brought home pesticides to use on their own crops. She says, "I

looked at him, and I told him, 'I have watched you, ever since you began working there [on the









women using a socioeconomic ecofeminist lens. As one type of ecofeminist theory,

socioeconomic ecofeminism explores both empirical and conceptual links between the

degradation of the environment and the subordination of women. However, this and other

theories of ecofeminism have been criticized for their failure to address issues of globalization.

Scholars Heather Eaton and Lois Ann Lorentzen suggest a few reasons for this:

First, the largely theoretical discourses linking women and nature, as developed
thus far, do not sufficiently address material exclusions resulting from economic
forces... [this theory] doesn't help us adequately analyze globalization as an
extension of patriarchal capitalism. Second, while there are many grassroots
activist women's organizations resisting the negative effects of globalization,
these activities do not provide the primary data for ecofeminist discourse. Third,
an adequate discussion of globalization must include not only an analysis of the
economic agenda, its hegemonic impact, and implicit value system, but also the
consequences of the erosion of nation-states and the rise of international civic
movements (2003: 5).

In this thesis, I hope to address these gaps in ecofeminist research, and thereby contribute

to the growing body of anti-capitalist, anti-globalization scholarship. I will focus the analysis on

indigenous and ladina women in rural Guatemala, where the increasing deforestation and

pollution of the environment affect their day-to-day lives. Thus, this is an ecofeminist project

that seeks to situate the local within the global, as advocated by Chandra Talpade Mohanty,

being attentive to "the micropolitics of context...as well as to the macropolitics of global

economic and political systems and processes." Only by providing such an analysis will we be

able to "read up the ladder of privilege" and make visible-and responsible-the global powers

that are affecting the lives of countless men and women around the world (2003: 223).




Full Text

PAGE 1

1 A MATTER OF SURVIVAL: WOMEN, SUBSISTENCE FARMING, AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION IN RURAL GUATEMALA By RACHEL HALLUM A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2007

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2 2007 Rachel Hallum

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3 For my family and loved ones.

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am indebted to everyone who has made this project possible, from my family and loved ones, to the staff and volunteers of the Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR). My professors, Dr. Milagros Pea and Dr. Constance Shehan, have provided me with invaluable patience, support, and guidance. Most of all, I am grateful to the women in Guatemala who have allowed me the opportunity to tell their stories. May their courage and strength be an inspiration to us all.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF FIGURES................................................................................................................ .........7 ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..............8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................... .9 The Current Ecological Crisis..................................................................................................9 Globalization, Environmental Degradation, and Women.......................................................10 2 THEORETICAL AND LI TERATURE REVIEW.................................................................12 Socialist Ecofeminism.......................................................................................................... ..13 Capitalist-Patriarchy in Guatemala: From Colonization to Globalization.............................14 The Rise of Big Agriculture and Big I ndustry and the Exploitation of the Global South.......................................................................................................................... ..16 The Continued Destruction of Land a nd People: The Violence of Capitalist Patriarchy.....................................................................................................................18 Effects of Policies of Globa lization and Neoliberalism..................................................20 Rural Women and the Environment in Modern Guatemala............................................23 3 MATERIALS AND METHODS...........................................................................................27 Western (Eco)feminism and Scholarship on the Third World............................................27 A Feminist Project............................................................................................................. .....28 The Alliance for Internati onal Reforestation (AIR)........................................................28 Concerns....................................................................................................................... ...31 4 ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AN D WOMEN IN THE COMMUNITIES..........35 Highland Communities...........................................................................................................35 Acatenango..................................................................................................................... .37 Comalapa....................................................................................................................... ..38 Itzapa......................................................................................................................... ......39 Women Farmers.................................................................................................................. ....40 Deforestation.................................................................................................................. .........41 Emotional Consequences.................................................................................................42 Material Consequences....................................................................................................45 Storms and Mudslides........................................................................................................... ..47 Conclusion..................................................................................................................... .........51

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6 5 ORGANIZING FOR FAMILY AND COMMUNITY..........................................................53 Local and Transnational Orga nizing and Social Capital........................................................54 The Environment and the Family...........................................................................................58 Gender Differences............................................................................................................. ....60 The Environment and the Community...................................................................................63 Conclusion..................................................................................................................... .........65 6 CONCLUSION..................................................................................................................... ..68 APPENDIX A GUIDING QUESTIONS (SPANISH)....................................................................................72 B GUIDING QUESTIONS (ENGLISH)...................................................................................73 LIST OF REFERENCES............................................................................................................. ..74 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................79

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7 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4-1 Deforested hillside in the Department of Chimaltenango..................................................36 4-2 Aftermath of mudslid es near Acatenango..........................................................................48 4-3 River on the outskirts of Acatenango that was covered over by a mudslide.....................50 5-1 Eroded areas and forested areas of a hillside, post-Hurricane Stan. ................................58 5-2 Label of manzanilla shampoo ma de by group of women in Itzapa...................................66

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8 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts A MATTER OF SURVIVAL: WOMEN, SUBSISTENCE FARMING, AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION IN RURAL GUATEMALA By Rachel M. Hallum August 2007 Chair: Milagros Pea Major: Sociology This study uses a socialist ecofeminist framew ork to explore the historical and material links between environmental degradation and wo men's roles as subsistence farmers in rural Guatemala. Data was gathered from interviews with 20 women farmers, as well as observational research, to explore how women's work is spec ifically affected by processes and policies of development in Guatemala. Results reveal th at development processes have led to greater deforestation and soil erosion in the areas where poor women farm for themselves and their families. Despite the difficulties that the wome n face, they are more than victims of their situation; rather they have begun mobilizing bot h locally and transnationally to combat the environmental problems confronting their fa milies and communities. The study concludes by calling for policy makers to take into account the roles that women farmers play in preserving the environment in places like rural Guatemala. Ideas for future research are also discussed.

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9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION In recent decades, scholars have coined the term globalization to refer to processes of global economic restructuring, wi th a specific economic and tec hnological agenda that alters basic modes of cultural organization and internat ional exchange in many parts of the world (Eaton and Lorentzen 2003: 4). While proponent s of globalization declare endless benefits from the exchange of capital on a global scale, others critique the noti on that globalization is beneficial for everyone. These critics argue that policies of globalization are reordering the flow of capital and wealth within a global and he gemonic economic regime that serves only the interests of the elite and rich (5). In a globalized economy, economic and political power is being increasingly granted to institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Bank, as well as many transand multi-nationa l corporations, often at the expense of the self-governance of many Third World nations. Policies of free trade ar e designed to serve the interests of these institutions a nd corporations rather than the na tions citizens. Thus, as scholar Heather Eaton notes, as a result of some globalization initiatives there is a deterioration in educational and health systems, a rise in infant mortality, and a decline in democratic pluralism. Additionally, more and more c ountries are being coerced in to export dependant economies (2003: 25). Finally, policies of globalization and industr ial development have been linked with the increasing degradatio n of the environment. These cons equences of globalization have led some to characterize the phenomenon as one of vast human misery and environmental devastation (Ruether 2003: vii). The Current Ecological Crisis The connection between the alarming rate of environmental destruction and the rise of globalization is not coincidental. Over the past few decades, the world has witnessed a rise in

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10 global industry and a corresponding d ecline in environmental quality so severe that the present period has been called one of ecological crisis (Eaton 2005: 8). Increasing industrialization has led to rampant deforestation and pollution, bo th of which contribute to global warming. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that the rise in temperature over the past decade has been unpre cedented in the last 10,000 years (IPCC 2007). Industrial pollution also aff ects water resources, contaminating fresh water sources through run-off and the leaking of harmful chemi cals. Currently, the United Nations estimates that 20% of the global population is without ac cess to safe drinking water, and that water pollution affects the health of 1.2 bill ion people worldwide (UNEP 2006). Globalization, Environmental Degradation, and Women It is important to note, however, that lik e globalization, environmen tal degradation does not affect everyone equally. Much of the pres ent-day depletion and c ontamination of natural resources disproportionately affects the poorer nations of the world. It is also a generally agreed upon fact in the academic community that in th ese poor nations, the poorest citizens are the hardest hit by the degradation of environmental conditions. The majority of these poor citizensnearly 70%are women and girls (Mohan ty 2003: 234). This association between the degradation of the environment and the decline in well-being fo r women was also acknowledged by the United Nations when it reported in 1989 that, I t is now a universally established fact that it is the woman who is the wors t victim of environmental dest ruction. The poorer she is, the greater her burden (quoted in Philiopose 1989: 67). What is it that links the wellbeing of women in poor nations with the well-being of the environment? Why is it that, in these parts of the world, environmental problems disproportionately affect women (Eaton 2003: 24)? This thesis seeks to explore the links between historical processes of globalization, environmental de gradation, and the status of

PAGE 11

11 women using a socioeconomic ecofeminist lens As one type of ecofeminist theory, socioeconomic ecofeminism explores both em pirical and conceptual links between the degradation of the environmen t and the subordination of women. However, this and other theories of ecofeminism have been criticized for their failure to address issues of globalization. Scholars Heather Eaton and Lois Ann Lore ntzen suggest a few reasons for this: First, the largely theoretical discourse s linking women and nature, as developed thus far, do not sufficiently address mate rial exclusions resu lting from economic forces[this theory] doesnt help us ad equately analyze globalization as an extension of patriarchal capitalism. Second, while there are many grassroots activist womens organizations resisti ng the negative effects of globalization, these activities do not provide the primary data for ecofeminist discourse. Third, an adequate discussion of globalization must include not only an analysis of the economic agenda, its hegemonic impact, a nd implicit value syst em, but also the consequences of the erosion of nation-stat es and the rise of international civic movements (2003: 5). In this thesis, I hope to addr ess these gaps in ecofeminist research, and thereby contribute to the growing body of anti-capitalis t, anti-globalization scholarship. I will focus the analysis on indigenous and ladina women in rural Guatemala, where the increasing deforestation and pollution of the environment affect their day-to-day lives. Thus, this is an ecofeminist project that seeks to situate the local within the global, as advocated by Chandra Talpade Mohanty, being attentive to the micropolitics of contex tas well as to the macropolitics of global economic and political systems and processes. Only by providing such an analysis will we be able to read up the ladder of privilege and make visibleand responsiblethe global powers that are affecting the lives of countle ss men and women around the world (2003: 223).

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12 CHAPTER 2 THEORETICAL AND LI TERATURE REVIEW One of the most important developments in theory that links women to the environment has been the advent of ecofeminism. Accordi ng to scholar Heather Eaton, ecofeminism can be broadly defined as a convergence of the ecological and feminist analyses and movements, and represents varieties of theoreti cal, practical, and critical effo rts to understand and resist the interrelated dominations of women and nature (2005: 11). Activ ism is also considered to be a key part of ecofeminism (Sturgeon 1997). However, it is important to note that under the broad umbrella of ecofeminism, there exists a wide array of theore tical frameworks. In her book Ecofeminist Philosophy, scholar Karren Warren identifies as many as ten ecofemini st theories: historical, conceptual, empirical, socialist, linguistic, symbolic a nd literary, spiritual and religious, epistemological, political, and ethical (2000: 21). Not all of these theories have been highly regarded by the academic community. Spiritual and religious ecofeminism in particular has been subject to critiques of essentialism, homogenization of women as a gr oup, romanticism, and political naivety (Agarwal 1992; Sydee and Beder 2001). The tendency of some types of ecofeminismpa rticularly those that developed in more affluent nations in the West and Northto essentialize and homogenize women is highly problematic, for several reasons. First, the homogenization of women as a group ignores important differences of class, culture, and race between women, and also i gnores the plight of impoverished women from less affluent nations (E aton and Lorentzen 2003: 5). To consider all women as being equally subordinated under patria rchy, and as experiencing the consequences of environmental degradation equally is misleading and uncritical, and so cially unliberatory. It also

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13 does not take into account how forces of globa lization impact women and the environment in different ways in different regions of the globe. Second, the essentializing of the women-Natu re connection does not take into account important empirical evidence of the interconne ctions between the domination of women and nature around the globe. In i gnoring such evidence, these esse ntialist views do not sufficiently address the material exclusions resulting from economic forces that result from capitalist patriarchys devaluation of bot h women and the environment. Ecofeminist Heather Eaton notes that the insistence upon the primacy of a women-nature connection, while illuminating symbolic and cultural constructs doesnt help us adequately analyze globalization as an extension of capitalist patriarchy (5). Socialist Ecofeminism One ecofeminist typology that does address issues of globa lization and capitalist patriarchy is socialist ecofeminism. Relying on empirical evidence of the domination of both women and nature, socialist ecofemi nists critique capitalism as the latest development in the system of patriarchy (Mies 1986: 38). Indeed, so me have argued that capitalism and patriarchy, rather than being separate systems of exploitati on and domination, are in fact one intrinsically interconnected system. Socialist ecofeminist Maria Mies contends th at capitalism cannot function without patriarchy, and th at the goal of this system, namely the never-ending process of capital accumulation, cannot be achieved unl ess patriarchal manwoman relations are maintained or newly created. For Mies, women are thus considered as exploited resources in the capitalist-patriarchal system (38). However, the socialist ecofem inist critique also recogni zes that not only women, but other historically subordinated groups have been grossly expl oited by capitalis t-patriarchy. Socialist ecofeminists argue that this exploitation is rooted in an oppressive conceptual

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14 framework that functions to explain, mainta in, and justify relati onships of unjustified domination and subordination (Wa rren 2000: 46). Common to these frameworks is the use of value-hierarchical thinking that serves to legitimate inequality; the concept of privilege as belonging to dominant groups; and the sanctioning of a logic of domination that assumes that superiority justifies subordin ation (46-47). In her book Ecofeminist Philosophy, Karen Warren identifies several hierarchical relationships that are characteristic of the global capitalist society. She notes that in an era of globalization, capit alist-patriarchal systems and logic have been implicated in the domination and subordination of the global South, indigenous groups, nature, as well as women. The following section will exam ine the ways in which all these groups have historically been used as expl oited resources at the hands of capitalist-patriarchy, within the context of Guatemala. Capitalist-Patriarchy in Guatemala: Fr om Colonization to Globalization The history of capitalist-patriarchal penetra tion into Latin America has been a history of violence, bloodshed, and gross human rights violat ions. It has also be en a history of the destruction of indigenous livelihoods as well as the environment. The roots of this history can be traced back to the early 1500s, when Spain co lonized much of what is now known as Latin America. The colonization of Guatemala marked the countrys first appearance on the world market. It was also an extraordinarily violen t process of domination and control, one that involved the brutal conquering a nd repression of many indigenous groups, including the Maya of Guatemala. To this day, the meaning of the co lonization process is still hotly contested in Guatemalan nationalist discourse, with much of the ladino population of primarily Spanish descent emphasizing the positive as pects of colonization as a vict ory on behalf of civilization, while many Maya choose to emphasize instead the violence of the first meeting between the

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15 Spanish and indigenous groups, the rapes that produced the racial mixing of mestizaje, and the appropriation of Maya land and culture (Nelson 1999: 12). It was not long after the Spanish arrival th at the colonizers began their systematic appropriation and exploitation of indigenous people and resources It is well documented that both Maya men and wome n were used as slave labor on Spanish haciendas, large plantations that cultivated and exported va rious agricultural crops Even after the slaves were freed in 1550, the dominant groups subordination of the indigenous population continued, as the former needed the cheap labor of Mayans to increase their profit. The haci enda system was subsequently replaced by an equally exploita tive and patriarchal system of repartimiento in which indigenous populations were allowed to remain on their land s as long as they provided wealthy landowners or padrones with free labor. The padrones controlled ne arly every aspect of life for the Maya laborers, from the amount of work they did, to their living arrangements and family life (Lovell 1988; Lutz and Lovell 2000: 17) However, the free labor that Mayans provided ev entually proved to be an insufficient and erratic source of wealth to materially-minded Spanish landowners, who soon turned to the land as a means of further increasing their profits. Thus, as the export value for Guatemalas major crop, indigo, increased, so did the Spanish ex ploitation of indigenous labor and land. As landowners became increasingly involved in the sy stematic cultivation of indigo and other export crops such as coffee, more and more indigenous land was appropriated and used to grow them. This in turn led to further displacement of indi genous groups, or their gradual incorporation into the ladino community (Pearce 1986: 15-17, Lovell 1988: 30-31).

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16 The Rise of Big Agriculture and Big Industry and the Exploitation of the Global South It was not until the late nineteenth centur y following the Spanish American War in 1898, however, that Guatemala and the rest of Cent ral Americaincluding El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Ricaentered definitively into the wo rld market. This was primarily due to the growth and expansion of the world coffee market, and the identification of Central America as an ideal region to grow the crop. Here we find the beginnings of Norths economic exploitation of the South, as multi-national coffee businesses began to appropriate land in much of Latin America in order to produce their highly prof itable crop. Oftentimes, Guatemalas political leaders worked with these multi-national businesse s to help them gain the land they needed. These leaders, called caudillos, or strongmen, were often form er generals who wielded both political and military power in their country, and used this power to force poor farmers off their land. This land was then handed over to the agribus inesses, often in return for economic or other forms of compensation (Lovell 1988; Brunk an d Fallaw 2006). Thus, once again, poor farmersthe majority of whom were Mayawer e displaced from the most ideal agricultural land and forced to resettle elsewhere. Incr easingly, Maya populations were becoming more concentrated in the western highlands of Guatem ala, where land was of little economic value to either the state or large agri businesses (Hamilton and Chinchi lla 2001: 20). However, through policies of forced labor such as debt peonage, va grancy laws, and genera lized rural repression, many Maya were recruited to provide labor for the coffee plantations. It is estimated that by the 1880s, at least 100,000 Maya highland workers, or one out of every eight Maya, migrated to the coffee plantations each year (Lutz and Lovell 2000: 32). Guatemalas incorporation into the worl d marketand concomitant exploitation by the Northcontinued into the twentieth century when greater numbers of multi-national agribusinesses (many of which were based in th e United States) entered into the country and

PAGE 17

17 took control of land, particularly along the Ca ribbean coastal region, where land was sparsely settled. The largest of these companies was United Fruit, which worked closely with the Guatemalan government to fund improvements in in frastructure for the country. In return, the Guatemalan government allocated more land for agricultural production to United Fruit. This land was given at the expense of ru ral small-scale farmers, both ladino and Maya (Hamilton and Chinchilla 2001: 24). The increas ing use of land for the cultivati on of export crops also led to higher rates of deforestation and general environmental deterioration in the region. It is important to note that the capitalist-driven expl oitation and subordination of indigenous groups and their lands did not go uncontested. The first half of the tw entieth century was marked by a series of revolts an d uprisings of both Maya and ladino farmers protesting government and corporate land takeovers. These pr otests were often met with violent repression on the part of state police. However, after a se ries of revolts in the early 1940s, a democratic administration was established in Guatemala that lasted ten years, from 1945-1954. This period saw the institution of numerous social reform po licies, including the expr opriation of the land of traditional Guatemalan landowners and the United Fruit Company and its subsequent redistribution to 100,000 peasant families (27). Ho wever, this period of socialist reform, which is referred to in Guatemala as the Ten Years of Spring, came to a halt in 1954 when a U.S.-led military coup ousted Guatemalan government leaders. The overthrow of the democratic administration, and the re-institution of military rule under caudillo leader General Ydigoras Fuentes led to the migration of several thousands of Guatemalans to neig hboring countries such as Honduras and Mexico (ibid.). Following this overthrow, Fuentes worked with both the military and ladino elites to institute a top-dow n redistributive land reform, in which rural

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18 farmers were allotted only the smallest of land plots that failed to meet the subsistence requirements of their families (Hough et al. 1982). The Continued Destruction of Land and People : The Violence of Capitalist Patriarchy The 1960s and 1970s represented period of in creasing industrializa tion and militarization for Guatemala. After the creation of the Ce ntral American Common Market, which reduced tariffs in order to attract fore ign investors, European and Japa nese investments in manufacturing increased substantially, as did U.S. investment in agriculture. This modernization resulted in the further displacement of rural farmersboth indigenous and ladino as their farmlands were once again taken over by large multiand trans-na tional corporations. Often, the military, which controlled the government during much of this period, was involved in evicting indigenous populations from their land, and then re-selling it to corporations at speculative prices (Hamilton and Chinchilla 2001:28). The land that was made available to the evi cted populations of poor indigenous and ladino farmers was often in areas that were poor for agricultural cultivation, mostly in the mountainous highlands. Additionally, the plots that were made available to these farmers were quite small, ranging between 0.5 to 2 hectares in size. In 1979, a widely skewed land distribution pattern was re ported, in which 88% of productiv e farm units were less than family subsistence size and held only 16% of arable land, while 2% of units held a whopping 65% of arable land (Tanaka and Wittman 2003). The dismal living conditions and continuing displacement of rural farmers were the major push factors that led to dram atic increases in Guatemalan emigration in the 1960s and 1970s. It is estimated that the number of Guatem alans entering Mexico increased from 10,000 to 15,000 annually in 1950 to 60,000 annually in the 1970s (T orres Rivas 1985: 58). Central American immigration to the United States, where many felt there would be greater economic opportunity for them, also increased substantially during this time, with the number of legally admitted

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19 immigrants more than tripling from 45,000 annua lly in the 1950s to 143,000 annually in the 1970s (60). The continued traditi on of displacement and migrati on was especially traumatic for Maya, whose religion and culture emphasize the importance of a ttachment and cultivation of ones land; indeed, many scholars have characteri zed traditional Maya religions as place based religions. Thus, displacement for many of thes e indigenous groups was more than traumatic; it was sacrilegious (St one 2000; Montejo 2000). Violence against rural populations in Guatemala continue d into the next decade, when brutal military regimes forced hundreds of t housands to flee. During the 1980s, and the especially vicious regimes of Generals Lucas Ga rca and Ros Montt, clashes between guerilla opposition groups and rural farmers and the military controlled Guatemalan government severely escalated. Under the command of these two ca udillo leaders, the military targeted rural communities where insurgents were believed to be hiding; often, whole villages were massacred, as was the case in El Mozote in Novemb er 1981, where 750 men, women, and children were killed (Danner 1994). The fact th at all villages targeted for destruction had been indigenous Maya, and the fact that 83% of those killed were Maya, have le d many to conclude that what may have begun as a civil war turned into a syst ematic campaign of genocide on the part of the Guatemalan government and military, which was deemed to be responsible for over 93% of the casualties (Falla 1993; Churchi ll 1998; CEH 1999; Sanford 2003). Not surprisingly, during this time the number of political and economic refugees from Guatemala increased exponentially, as an estima ted 1 million people were forced to flee from their homes between 1980 and 1983 (Lovell 1988). The high level of violence continued until the mid 1980s, when Vinico Cerezo Aravelo was el ected president and re-instituted democratic rule. It was more than ten years, however, until a peace treaty was signed in 1996, bringing an

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20 official end to the violence and human rights abuses that had pla gued the country for thirty-six bloody years. Thus, the story of Guatemalas involvement in the world market is one of the severe social and economic marginalization and suppressi on of poor, rural farmers, most of whom were indigenous Maya. The story is also one of increasing environm ental degradation in the region, due to the combined effects of i ndustrialization and thirty years of civil war. While the political strife in Guatemala may officially be over, the economic and ecological crisis is not. Policies of globalization and neoliberalism inst ituted in the 1980s have contribut ed to a decrease in both the quality of life and the environment in rural Guat emala. The following section details how these policies have impacted rural farmers in Guatemala, particularly women. Effects of Policies of Globalization and Neoliberalism The problem of environmental degradation in Guatemala in particular, and Central America in general, can be traced directly to globaliz ation and the implementation of neoliberal policies, beginning in the early 1980s. These pol icies represent a continuation of efforts to incorporate Guatemala into the world market, and were put into place by a powerful coalition of international financial institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and various Latin American governments. According to officials of these institutions, the goals of the new po licies were to reduce government corruption, provide greater economic stability to the region, reduce inflation, boost competitiveness and exports, and reduce poverty th rough trickle-down benefits. However, the tools used to implement these policies seem fa r-removed from the goals. In order to comply with demands of both the WTO and the World Bank, many Latin American governments instituted draconian cuts in spe nding on social programs; privatiz ed public utilities; eliminated government regulations in order to attract foreig n investments; liberaliz ed trade policies; and

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21 promoted free markets at virtually every level of the economy. The financial institutions and governments warned the public that the short-term effects would be painful for the sake of longterm benefits; and indeed, these pa inful effects were so dire that the 1980s are labeled the lost decade for Latin America. The pain has been fe lt disproportionately by the poorest citizens, who have experienced higher rates of unemploym ent at the very time social support programs have disappeared (Weyland 2004: 144-46). In addition to contributing to an increase ra ther than decrease in poverty, this free, deregulated trade has also led to an increase in environmental degrada tion in the region. The primary reason for this is due to the increase in export value for many types of non-traditional agricultural export (NTAX) crops. For example, export data shows that traditional exports such as sugar, coffee, cotton, cacao, tea and spices have lo st in export value over the last thirty years, ranging from a -25.3% loss in the value of sugar to a -50.4% loss for coffee. These losses have been replaced by huge increases since 1979 in th e export value of milk and dairy products (817%); forest products (435%); and a 387% increase in the export value of NTAX crops such as fruits, vegetables, and flowers (an industry most advanced in Mexico and Chile and strong in Guatemala). The size and timing of this shift fr om traditional exports to dairy, forest products, and non-traditional crops links it clearly to neo liberal structural adjustments and easing of trade restrictions (Deere 2005: 6, 27). Over the years, as the value of NTAX crops in Guatemala has increased, so has their production. More and more fertile valley land is now being used for growing crops for profit. This, in turn, has pushed the subsistence farmi ng of Guatemalas rural poor to mountainsides, where trees are slashed and burned to make way for corn and beans. The consequences of this destruction are also local because it is well-documented that deforestation causes soil erosion,

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22 reduced rainfall, and sediment-clogged waterw ays. The absence of established forests on mountainsides also intensifie s the devastation of hurrica nes and flooding (Carr 2003). The increased agricultural produc tion also results in increa sed pesticide and chemical fertilizer use, both of which have a harmful im pact not only on Guatemalas environment, but on rural populations. Many large s cale growers admit to using up to twenty applications per growing cycle (Hamilton and Fischer 2003: 95). The pesticide use in turn affects local environmental quality as it destroys various forms of plant and animal life. Agricultural run-off containing pesticide residue also results in the contamination of water sources, affecting the health of rural populations. The Guatemalan gove rnment sponsored research on pesticide use in 1997 through the Pesticides and Health Project (P lagsalud). The project reported that while agrochemical poisoning is rarely reported by farmers, nearly 2 million people living in rural areas come into direct contact with chemical pesticides on a daily basis. The project also indicated that while some pest icides were used by small-scale landowners and subsistence farmers, the vast majority were used on crops intended for export to the United States and Europe (PAHO 1998). Thus, as noted by socialist ecofeminists Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, the economic, social, and ecological costs of co nstant growth in the industrialized countries have been and are shifted to the colonized coun tries of the South, to those countries environment and their peoples (1993: 58). Clearly, the neoliberal policies of Guatemala ha ve not affected everyone equally or in the same ways in the years since their implementa tion. While large-scale landowners and other capitalists have benefited, others have suffered; namely, the rural poor, the vast majority of whom are indigenous. As we have seen, indi genous Maya have a hi story of subordination, exploitation, and displacement in Guatemala as first the colonizers and now capitalists take

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23 control over their lands and res ources. Today, the burdens of Guatemalas long history of the appropriation of land and res ources are disproportionately borne by Guatemalas rural populations. With regards to land rights, this hi story has left rural popula tions with one of the most uneven land distribution patte rns in Latin America; now, less than 1% of landowners hold 75% of the best agricultural land. Additionally, an estimated 90% of rural inhabitants live in poverty, with over 500,000 campesino (farmworker) families living below subsistence level. Most of these inhabitants are indigenous (Tanaka and Wittman 2003). Rural Women and the Environment in Modern Guatemala However, even within the indigenous commun ity, not everyone has been affected in the same ways. An ecofeminist analysis requires that we view environm ental degradation through the lens of gender. When we do so, we note th at environmental degradation disproportionately affects women in many nations, due in large part to a gendered divi sion of labor that considers family sustenance to be a womans work. The gendered division of labor, as noted by ecofeminist Maria Mies, is a key part of the capitalist patriarchal sy stem. She argues that womens subsistence work is a necessary precond ition for the existence a nd continuation of the capitalist system. Thus: This general production of life, or s ubsistence productionmainly performed through the non-wage labour of women a nd other non-wage labourers as slaves, contract workers, and peasants in the coloniesconstitutes the perennial basis upon which capitalist productive labour can be built up and exploited. Without the ongoing subsistence production of non-wa ge labourers (mainly women), wage labour would not be productive (1986: 48). Ecofeminist scholar Heather Eat on reaffirms this argument. Sh e notes that as primary care givers, women are responsible for the food and health of family members, and that due to environmental destruction in many poor countri es, it is becoming increasingly difficult to

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24 provide food, fuel, and water for many families (2005: 24). Ecofeminist and theologian Ivone Gebara makes a similar connection between women and the environment: Ecofeminism is born of daily life, of day-to-day sharing among people, of enduring together garbage in the streets, bad smells, the absence of sewers and safe drinking water, poor nutrition and in adequate health care. The ecofeminist issue is born of the lack of municipal garbage collection, of the multiplication of rats, cockroaches, and mosquitoes, and of the sores on childrens skin. This is true because it is usually women who have to deal with the daily survival issues: keeping the house clean and feeding a nd washing the children (1999: 2). This close connection between women and the environment is a reality in many developing countries, including Gu atemala, where rural women as wives and/or mothers are primarily responsible for sustenance farming. T hus, in rural Guatemala, it is very often the women who are primarily responsible for cultivating their families milpa, or subsistence crops (Deere and Leon 2001: 102). However, historically, it has been difficult to measure womens participation in farming in Guatemala. Some ecofeminist scholars argue that such is due to capitalist patriarchys devaluation of womens work as being non-pr oductive, so that even when women work outside the home, their work is often seen as me rely an extension of their natural role as caretakers (Mies 1986: 45). Thus, in capitalism, the concept of labor is usually used to refer to mens work outside of the home, under cap italist conditions, which means work for the production of surplus value (46). This same type of devaluation is a gr eat problem in Guatemala, where womens subsistence work has traditionally been ignored and/or discounted, even by official surveys. In Guatemala and other Latin American countries, it is simply the case th at all productive work including farmingis seen as mens work. Agricultural economists Carmen Diana Deere and Magdalena Leon write that:

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25 Irrespective of the amount of labor that rural women dedicate to agriculture whether as unpaid family workers or as wage workersagriculture in Latin America has been socially constructed as a male occupation. As a result, womens work in agriculture is largely invisible. If considered at all, it is usually seen as supplementary assistance to the principal male farmer. even in the agricultural censuses, the agriculturalist of the hous ehold unit is assumed to be the male household head (2001: 102). The devaluation of womens work in farming is clearly evident of a capitalist-patriarchal ideology, which has led to a gross underestimation of womens work in th e agricultural sector. The extent of such underestimation was recently made evident by the combined research efforts of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) from 1991 through 1995. The aim of the IICA/IDB research was to gather employment data for Latin American nati ons that would be more accurate than official, national employment data. In this project, re searchers undertook time-use studies, and found that a large majority of rural women work 14 to18 hours a day in a variety of ta sks: cultivating their own land; tending livestock; caring for children; gardening; and making products for sale. This studys findings contrasted sharply with those of government surveys, which oftentimes have not even recognized women as laborers. Of the 18 nations included in the IICA/IDB study, Guatemala was found to have the most severe undercount; researchers concluded that the government had underestimated the percentage of economically active rural women by nearly 500% (Kleysen and Campillo 1996: 17). Both Deere and the IICA/IDBs study conclude that women in rural Guatemala have daily, close contact with their land a nd environment. These studies also raise important questions, however. What is the nature of the relationship between rural women and their land? What is the nature, if any, of environmental degradati on in the communities where these women live? How are the women affected by such degradatio n? And what are the women doing about the

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26 situation? This thesis seeks to answer these and other questions using the previously outlined socialist ecofeminist framework. Using this fram ework will allow for an analysis of important connections between the exploitati on of women and nature in the global South, in the context of rural Guatemala. This framework will also allow for an analysis of how decisions made at a global level impact the day-to-day lives of wo men in Guatemala. Perhaps most importantly, however, this framework will allow for an imput ation of responsibility to the agents of globalization whose policies have resulted in mass environmental devastation and correspondingly, a decline in the quality of life for millions of people like the women of rural Guatemala.

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27 CHAPTER 3 MATERIALS AND METHODS Western (Eco)feminism and Scholarship on the Third World In past years, Western feminist scholarsh ip has come under harsh, and, I would argue, well-deserved criticism in its analyses of situatio ns in the Third World. In her seminal piece Under Western Eyes, feminist scholar Chandra Talpede Mohanty criticizes Western feminist scholarship for the ways in which it has tradit ionally portrayed citizens of the Third Worldand women in particularas singul ar, monolithic subject[s] (1986: 17). She argues that this ethnocentric universalism that of ten pervades much Western femi nist scholarship is really a new form of colonialism in that it is implicated in perpetuating relations of structural domination, and a suppression of those it claims to represent ( 18). Ecofeminist Maria Mies similarly critiques how traditional feminist scholar ship has been used as yet another instrument of domination and legitimati on of power elites (1993: 38). Both Mohanty and Mies call for a radical ch ange in the way that Western feminist scholarship engages in discussions of the Thir d World. In a follow-up piece to Under Western Eyes, Mohanty argues that feminist scholars mu st be attentive to the micropolitics of context subjectivity, and struggle, as well as to the macropolitics of global economic and political systems and processes (2003: 223). Engaging in such scholarship makes homogenizing and universalizing impossible; rath er, we understand peoples situ ations in relation to their immediate locale and link their ev eryday life and local gendered contexts and ideologies to the larger, transnational political and economic struct ures and ideologies of capitalism (225). Key, too, to this scholarship is the idea of directionality: in situating the lo cal within the global, we are able to read up the ladder of privilege, and make visibleand respons iblethe global powers that are affecting the da y-to-day lives of countle ss people throughout the world.

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28 A Feminist Project This thesis draws from both Mohanty and Mies call for an anti-imperialist, anticapitalist, and contextualized feminist project that expos e[s] and make[s] visible the various, overlapping forms of subjugation of womens lives (Mohanty 2003: 236). The feminist project of this thesis is to investigate the effects that policies of gl obalization and neoliberalism have had on both the environment and women in rural Guatemala. The research conducted for this thesis involves a review of fieldnotes and surveys of rural farmers in Guatemala conducted in May and June of 2006 by staff members of an environmental non-governmental organization (NGO). During this ti me, I served as part of a team of volunteer workers who assisted the NGO, the Alliance for In ternational Reforestati on (AIR) in gathering general fieldnotes about communities in the department of Chimaltenango, in the central highlands of Guatemala. The research was primarily gathered from three different communities in which AIR is currently workingA catenango, Comalapa, and Itzapa. The Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR) I have been working with the Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR), for over fifteen years, assisting with both fundraising as well as agroforestry projects. The organization is transnational, having offices in both the Unite d States and Chimaltenango, Guatemala. The purpose of AIR is to combat the deleterious e ffects of deforestation by working with local farmers in Guatemala to establish agroforestry programs in their communities. The farmers work with AIR on a voluntary basis; the orga nization simply advertises its services in community centers, and then farmers contact AIR s staff if they are interested in receiving assistance. Participation in AIRs agroforestry programs is free for the farmers; the organization provides the technical knowledge, basic tools, an d seeds necessary to implement the programs.

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29 Significantly, most of the farmers who seek out the assistance of AIRnearly 77%are women. AIR has been working in Guatemala for fifteen years, and in this time, has worked with over 50 communities throughout the department of Chimaltenango. AIR staff includes six tecnicos, or field extension agents. Three of the tecnicos are indigenous Maya and fluent in both Spanish and Kaqchikel. The tecnicos also hold degrees in agroforestry and are trained in community farming methods. One tecnico will work with farmers in a particular community for up to five years to ensure the continued succe ss and sustainability of the communitys tree nurseries and agroforestry projects. Each year, the tecnicos along with other volunteers, c onduct a series of both field observations and interviews in various communities with which AIR works. The purpose of these observations and interviews is to obtain detailed informa tion on the general environmental and economic condition of each community, as we ll as the number and makeup of the group of farmers in the community (inc luding how many men and women are involved, and how many of the farmers are indigenous). This information is recorded and compiled in an annual report and other reports on the work of farmers. In the summer of 2006, AIR staff and volunt eers conducted both field observations and interviews with women farmers in three comm unities in the department of Chimaltenango, Guatemala. In these communitiesAcatenango, Comalapa, and ItzapaAIR works extensively with groups of women farmers to help them impl ement agroforestry projects in their fields. These groups range in size between 20 a nd 40 members and are comprised of both ladina and indigenous Maya women. For this study, se ven women farmers were interviewed in Acatenango, five in Comalapa, and eight in Itzapa. The women all volunteered to be

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30 interviewed, and were able to take time away from their day to meet with the interviewers. While AIR staff members have experience in conducting similar interviews, they were reminded to inform the women that their responses would be kept completely confidential, and that their answers may be used in AIRs reports, as well as an academic research paper on women and the environment. Each interviewer was provided with a set of guiding questions to ask each woman, and was instructed to record her answers as accurately as possible (see Appendices A and B for guiding questions). No recording devices were used due in part to a lack of financial resources, as well as a general agreement amongst AIR staff and volunteers that many women may be reluctant to be tape recorded. Throughout this paper, the name s of the cities and geographic landmarks have remained unchanged, while the name s of the women are false in order to assure confidentiality. In addition to the interviews, a total of fifteen observationa l studies were conducted, with five studies ranging from one to six hours conducted in each of the three communities. The fieldnotes based on these observations contain important information on the nature of the environment and environmental degradation (if any) in the communities, as well as general information on the population of the community, wh at percent of the community is indigenous, etc. These observations served to supplemen t the interviews, providing a way of establishing both the reliability and validity of th e data obtained from the interviews. For this thesis, I reviewed the notes from both the interviews and field observations conducted by AIR staff and vol unteers in Acatenango, Comala pa, and Itzapa, utilizing the grounded theory method as outlined by Strauss and Co rbin (1998) in order to analyze the data. Upon my initial reviews of the da ta, during the open coding phase of analysis, I identified and tentatively labeled similarities that became apparent across interviews. At this phase of analysis,

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31 I was able to group similar items according to de fined properties, and thereby develop concepts (121). My familiarity with feminist and ecofemini st literature was helpful in identifying common themes that emerged from the data during this phase. For example, as many ecofeminists have pointed out, in many parts of the world women are responsible for subsistence farming, and are therefore affected as farmers by environmental degradation in their communities. As noted by Gebara (1999), Shiva (1989), and others, many ta sks relating to womens farm workincluding gathering firewood and water, planting and harvestinghave been adversely impacted by processes of deforestation and so il, air, and water pollution. This theme in ecofeminist literature served to enhance [my] sensitivity to this th eme in the data, as I was more readily able to identify the various, subtle ways in which th e women farmers work in Guatemala has been affected by deforestation in their commun ities (Strauss and Corbin 1998: 49). Following this open coding phase of analysis, I then attempted to link these discrete concepts at the level of their pr operties and dimensions to form larger conceptual categories in the process of axial coding (123). Thus, task s relating specifically to womens farmwork, including gathering firewood, cultivating crops, a nd cooking, were linked and grouped within the larger, more general category of gendered divisi on of labor. Finally, I again referred to the ecofeminist literature to assist me in both checking the validity of the data, as well as refining the conceptual framework used to explain the data. Concerns My main concerns with this project revol ve around the ways in which the data were collected, how that data was inte rpreted, and how the da ta is presented. Fe minist scholarship requires that researchers be reflex ive of their position of privilege in relation to their participants, and be attentive to the corre sponding power differences (Moh anty 2003: 224). Feminist scholarship also acknowledges that there is no su ch thing as objective, value-free research.

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32 In acknowledging that objectivity in any type of research is neith er possible nor desirable, feminist scholars must examine the ways in whic h their research method and data may be biased. One source of bias is the way in which the rese arch was conducted. For instance, in this study, the fieldnotes and surveys were recorded by AIR staff and volunteers. Th e staff members, as middle class, college-educated men occupy a dis tinctly privileged social position in Guatemala relative to the poor, uneducated female farmer s. This differential positioning may have influenced the women farmers responses somewh at, although it is also important to consider that the women have been work ing with all of AIRs tecnicos for at least two years and have reported that they not only trust the men but li ke them on a friendly, personal level as well. While many of the interviews between the tecnicos and women were conducted in Spanish, some were conducted in the Maya Kaqchi kel language. These were then translated by the Kaqchikel and Spanish speaking tecnicos into Spanish, and a Peace Corps volunteer from Spain then assisted me in translating the interv iews into English. Unfortunately, some of the original meanings may have been lost through thes e layers of translation; we tried our best to respect the womens messages and retain the integrity of what they told us. In addition to taking into consid eration the issues of data co llection, I must also be aware of the ways in which my social positiona s a white, North American, middle-class woman may influence my interpretation of the data. Scho lars have noted that there has been a tendency of white North American feminists to essentia lize all Third World women as a homogenous, powerless group often located as implicit vict ims of particular socioeconomic systems (Mohanty 1986: 23). I must be careful to avoi d this tendency, and to focus my analysis on demonstrating the production of women as socio economic political groups within particular local contexts, while paying attention to social class a nd ethnic identities (31).

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33 Finally, I am concerned with how to best address problems of scholarly language, particularly with regard to the politics of naming. In her article Changing the Terms, feminist scholar Nancy Naples notes that how we explicate and frame our approach to the intersection of global an d local organizing says a great deal about out political orientation, disciplinary assumptions, and cross-cultural sensibili ty (2000: 5). The term Third World, for instance, has been used since the early 1980s to refer to underdeveloped or developing nations that were economically disadvantaged and th erefore dependent on Fi rst World nations for financial, scientific, and technica l assistance (ibid). However, this term has been criticized by feminists who argue that it discursively justifie s the construction of Fi rst World countries in North America and Western Europe as dominant and more advanced. Additionally, the use of the term Third World may contribute to the oth ering of women in these countries. Feminist scholars have proposed alternative terms, such as the Two-thirds World, which has been used to refer to women living in Third World nations, and brings attention to the fact that at least two thirds of the worlds pop ulation live in countries with low average per-capita income (Bulbeck 2006: 38). Third World countries have also been referre d to as developing in the discourse of globalization. Such a term is equally problematic, as it places the notion of development as a goal that countries should strive to achieve. Therefore, developing countries like Guatemala are seen as lagging behind developed countries like the United St ates. Some feminist scholars have argued that instead of de scribing various First World c ountries as developed, we should instead use the term overdeveloped (Minh-ha 1989). For the purposes of this paper, I will periodically use the term North to refer to countries generally considered to be part of the First World, as well as the term South to refer to

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34 countries considered to be Thir d World. Like transnational femi nist scholars Chandra Mohanty, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Vandana Shiva, I will us e the terms North/First World and South/Third World interchangeably. These terms reflect the historical ways in which countries in the northern hemisphere have historically exploited c ountries in the southern hemisphere, through imperialism, colonialism, and, most recently, th rough policies of neoliber alism and globalization (Minh-ha 1989; Mies and Shiva 1993; Shiva 2000). Of course, it is important to recognize that the historical exploitation of some countries by others has not always been so neatly geographically ordered; this has only been a general historical tendency. Throughout this thesis, I will also use the term globalization to refer to the processes of global economic restructuring, wi th a specific economic and tec hnological agenda that alters basic modes of cultural organization and internat ional exchange in many parts of the world (Eaton and Lorentzen 2003: 4). While proponent s of globalization declare endless benefits from the exchange of capital on a global scale, others critique the noti on that globalization is beneficial for everyone. These critics argue that policies of globalization are reordering the flow of capital and wealth within a global and he gemonic economic regime that serves only the interests of the elit e and rich (4). Through this thesis, I hope to explore how th ese global, historical processes and policies are played out an everyday, microsocial level. Specifically, I want to asses how the policies affect both women and the environment in the contex t of rural Guatemala. In doing so, I hope to contribute to the growing body of anti-capitalist, anti-globalization literature, and to read up the ladder of privilege, in the words of Mohanty (1986), making visible and responsible the global powers that are affecting th e lives of countless people.

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35 CHAPTER 4 ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AN D WOMEN IN THE COMMUNITIES All three of the communities presented in th is study are located in the Department of Chimaltenango, in the central highlands of Guatem ala. This is a particularly mountainous region of the country, with altitudes typically ranging between 1,500 and 2,500 meters (4,900 to 8,200 feet). The mountains and hills dominate the la ndscape, and there are only a few valley areas with flat terrain suitable for farming. These areas, however, are often occupied by large-scale growers and trans-national agribusinesses such as Del Monte and Chiquita, both of which bought out the land holdings of the United Fruit Comp any in the 1970s (La Feber 1993). Companies like Del Monte specialize in the growth of nontraditional agricultural export (NTAX) crops like cabbage, snow peas, and broccoli (Fischer a nd Hendrickson 2003: 1). The value that NTAX crops have for the large scale growers who cultivat e them, the corporations that contract with these growers, and the Guatemalan economy virtua lly guarantees that only the best farmland will be used to grow these crops. In Chimaltenango, one of the most ideal areas for farming is the valley of Tecpn, a large flatland area in the cen ter of the department that spans an area of approximately 50 square kilometers. As Fisc her and Hendrickson note in their 2003 study of the area, the valley of Tecpn provides an ideal place for growing crops, and the vast majority of the land is used to grow export crops. It is also notable that in this ar ea of flat terrain and loose, rich soil, there are no subsistence plots of corn and beans. Highland Communities Instead of being allowed to farm in areas such as Tecpn, most rural subsistence farmers have been displaced to areas high in the m ountains of Chimaltenango. Here, farmers have slashed and burned many areas in order to make room for their milpa, small plots of land used for growing subsistence crops of corn and beans (see Figure 4-1). As Fischer and Hendrickson

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36 note, the deforested mountainsides of the central Guatemalan highlands have become symbols of such socio-historical issues as unequal access to quality agricu ltural land, the ecological issues of deforestation, and po litical favoritism in the use of community resources (2). However, for the farmers who grow their subs istence crops in these areas, the deforested mountains are more than symbols; they are real ities that must be faced every day. The women farmers in this study all confront the problems of cultivating crops for their families survival in the difficult, unforgiving terrain of the highlands of Chimaltenango. Figure 4-1. Deforested hillside in the Department of Chimaltenango. As it is so difficult to cultivate crops here for ones family, let alone for ones income, many of the residents of the highland communitie s are impoverished. In Guatemala, the more rural areas tend to have the highe st rates of poverty, as most of the wealthy elite of the country reside in large houses behind high walls in ur ban centers like Guatemala City or Antigua (Fischer and Hendrickson 2003: 27). The lives of the elite in Guatemala are a far cry from the lives of the rural poor, and Guatem ala is notorious for high rates of inequality, with the top 20%

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37 of the population earning 63% of all income, while the bottom 20% ea rn only 2.1% of all income. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) estimates that nearly 87% of the population of Guatemala lives in poverty, with 67% living in extreme poverty, defined as income below what is needed for minimal subsistence levels and caloric intake (UNDP 2000). Most of the residents of the communities pres ented in this study liv e in extreme poverty, many earning annual incomes of less than 2,700 Quetzal s, or about US $350. For many residents, farming is their only means of su rvival, and yet this task can be quite difficult in the mountainous highland communities. The following section expl ores the general environmental and farming conditions of each community. Acatenango Acatenango is a relatively small town with a population of about 15,000 located approximately fifteen miles to the southwest of the city of Chimaltenango and ten miles to the south of the valley of Tecpn. It is in a region of Guatemala that is renowned for its coffee. This particular area provides fertile gr ound for growing many types of cr ops, due in large part to the rich volcanic soil found in th e region. The volcano Acatenan go is one of the largest in Guatemala at 3,500 meters, and still active. The ash that it spews mixes in with the soil and provides valuable nutrients th at help with plant growth. However, in the town of Acatenango, the most valuable, easily farmed land is used for growing export coffee crops. Large corporati ons like Starbucks and Folgers contract with growers in this region in order to supply a h eavy demand for the rich coffee grown on the fertile volcanic slopes. The subsistence farming that many of the residents depend on for survival has in turn been gradually pushed to the steeper m ountain slopes around the outs kirts of the city. In Acatenango, a group of twenty ladina farmers have been working with AIR for nearly three years to implement methods of su stainable agriculture in their fi elds. While many of the women

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38 live within the city limits of Acatenango, or on the outskirts, th eir fields can be up to three kilometers outside of the city. Their fields average about 0.5 hectares (1.24 acres) in size. It is estimated that in Guatemala, a family of six needs between 0.6 to 1.1 hectares in order to grow enough corn to feed themselves for a year (Fisch er and Hendrickson 2003: 129). The families of the women in this study range in size between four and eight members. Given the small sizes of their milpa plots, all of the families in Acatenango as well as Comalapa and Itzapa, live in what the United Nations defines as extreme poverty (UNDP 2000). Comalapa Comalapa is a somewhat large city of near ly 30,000, located approximately fifteen miles northwest of Chimaltenango, and ten miles southeas t of the valley of Tecpn. Like Acatenango, it is a very mountainous area. Trav el to and from Comalapa is difficult, as the mountain roads can be very steep and difficult for vehicles to traverse, particularly if it is raini ng. Thus, although Comalapa is only a short distance away from the large city of Chimalte nango, it can take up to 2.5 hours to travel from one city to the other. Most of the indigenous Maya residents of Comalapa are fa rmers, and tend to reside on the outskirts of the city, closer to their fields, or in small nearby communities such as Palemos. Located high in the mountains, these areas are quite serene and beautiful, w ith lush greenery and pine forests. However, this beauty can be deceptive, as the incredibly hard, rocky soil makes it difficult to grow crops. Additi onally, the combination of loose rocks and steep slopes can make farming not only difficult but dangerous; many farmers were observed tying ropes around their waists and anchoring themselves to nearby tr ees in order to keep from tumbling down a mountain slope. Because of the considerable st ruggle involved in farming, many families living around here farm only for subsistence, as they are not able to grow enough to sell any excess. To supplement their farming, the families may also raise chickens, goats, and occasionally cows.

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39 Here, a group of twenty Kaqchikel Maya women have been working with AIR for approximately two years to implement methods of agroforestry in their fields. Th eir fields are close in size to those of the farmers of A catenango, averaging about 0.5 hectares. Itzapa Like Comalapa, Itzapa is a fairly large co mmunity of about 40,000 that is approximately ten miles to the southwest of Chimaltenango, and fi fteen miles to the southeast of the valley of Tecpn. It is slightly more industrialized and polluted than Comalapa, and more crowded as well. Here there is a group of forty Kaqchikel Maya women who have been working with AIR for over five years. All of them farm for subsistence, and thei r fields are located between one and five kilometers outside of the city limits. Th eir subsistence plots are comparable in size to the plots of farmers in Acatena ngo and Comalapa, averaging about 0.4 hectares, or 0.98 acres. The farming areas around Itzapa are not as steep as the areas around Acatenango and Comalapa, and thus the women here do not have to cont end with the same dangers and difficulties of farming on rocky mountainsides. However, Itzapa also lies at a somewhat lower elevation than Acatenango or Comalapa, and some of its lowlying areas are suscepti ble to flooding when it rains heavily. During the rainy season, from Ma y until August, it is not uncommon for roads and bridges to collapse when the ground becomes over-s aturated. This, in turn, can make travel to and from ones milpa a difficult and arduous process. While the three communities in this study differ according to various geographical characteristics, they all face similar environm ental problems. These problems are rooted in neoliberal policies and historical processes of land appropriation that have gradually pushed subsistence farmers to more mountainous areas wh ere more and more forests are being slashed and burned to make way for corn and beans. Th e increasing deforestation of these areas has had profound impacts on the lives and liv elihoods of the residents of th ese communities, particularly

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40 those whose survival depends upon subsistence farming. The following section explores how this environmental degradation impacts the live s and livelihoods of the women farmers in this study. Women Farmers It has been noted repeatedly by various femi nist scholars over the years that the gendered division of labor that pervades much of the world defines productive wage labor work as mens work, and non-productive work inside the home as womens work (Nash and Fernandez-Kelly 1983; Mies 1986; Mies and Shiva 1993; Mohanty 1997). Ecofeminists note that in many countries in the global South, th is gendered division of labor has traditionally placed women in rural areas in the role of subs istence farmers for their families (Mies and Shiva 1993; Gebara 1999; Eaton and Lorentzen 2003). The patriarchal logic that informs this division views womens work as subsistence farmers as a natural extension of their roles as primary care givers. Thus, their labor intensive farm work becomes yet another way for women to nurture and care for their families, and allows their husbands to engage in productive wage earning labor outside the home (Mies 1986). The interviews conducted with the Guatemalan women in this study confirm that they do indeed play a prominent role in the cultivati on of their families subsistence plots, or milpa, which typically consist of corn and beans. Of the twenty women interviewed, fourteen indicated that cultivating their fa milies land was primarily their responsi bility. Five indicated that they shared this responsibility with their husbands, and only one Maya woman in Comalapa indicated that her husband was the primary farmer. She noted that while she helped him occasionally with the farming, her primary activity involved weaving and selling huipils, beautiful and elaborate blouses that are a trademark of traditional Maya dress for women, and that can take up to four months to make.

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41 The farm work that the women in this study are involved with places them in direct and immediate contact with their local environment on a regular basis. As farmers, the women are intimately aware of any amount of environmenta l degradation occurring in their communities and in the areas where they fa rm. When asked about the major environmental problems facing their communities, the women responded clearly and unequivocally that deforestation and soil erosion constituted the biggest threats. Deforestation In each of the communities, the women are l ong term residents. Many have grown up in the same area together and are li fe-long friends. The fact that they have lived in the areas so long means that the women are able to see how gradua lly, more and more trees are being cleared from surrounding areas to make way for farming. Doa Fi delia, a Kaqchikel Maya, is the oldest in the group of women working in Itzapa. At over eigh ty years old, and a lifelong resident, she has seen many changes and upheavals in her community over the years. She not es that the problem of deforestation has gotte n worse in recent years: Now [deforestation] is worse, and it sicken s me. I have always planted trees with my milpa. It is the way my family has always done it. We have always understood the importance of trees, for the so il, for the water, for our crops, and for firewood. But now, people come in and cut them down, and they do not understand what they are doing. And yes, it has gotten worse, especially because people need trees for firewood, and now ther e are less and less trees. Last week, at night, people came and cut two of my casuarinas. I have never had that problem before, people stealing trees! The increasing deforestation in her community m eans that Doa Fidelia is now having to deal with problems she has never before had to addre ss in over eighty years of living in Itzapa. In addition to distressing her emotionally, the problem of increased deforesta tion is also directly impacting her livelihood, as pe ople are invading her property to steal her resources. Her concerns are shared by other women who were in terviewed. Doa Cecili a, a 43 year old ladina

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42 farmer from Acatenango also recognizes that the problem of deforestatio n in her community has gotten worse in recent years. She notes that, We [in the womens group] have all gr own up together here, in Acatenango. Most of us come from families of farmers, so we have been doing this our whole life. But over the years, more people, more farmers have moved here, and have bought land here. Of course, they have to farm, too, and this means that they cut the trees. We here, my compaeras and I realized that something had to be done. Like Doa Fidelia, Cecilia and the other wome n with whom she works are concerned about the increasing rates of deforestation in their communities. As the women elaborate, many of their concerns relate to both the emotional and material consequences of deforestation. Emotional Consequences The farm work that the women do requires them to be in their fields between one and four days each week, on average, tending to th eir crops. This work places them in close, intimate contact with their environment, as they clear away brush, till the soil, plant the seeds, and nurture the crops that will be used to feed th eir families. The direct physical connection with their crops and the surrounding e nvironment in turn fosters an emotional connection to the environment that many women expr essed. Doa Patricia, a ladina farmer in Acatenango, describes the fields where she works as her home, and explains that for her, farming is relaxing and enjoyable. She says, I work so much inside the house, with three young children, and I am very tired on the days that I spend in the house. On days that I come to farm, I bring my children with me, of course, and I feel be tter I feel like the field, like the trees are my home, and my home is actually where I work [laughs]. So yes, it is sad for me to see trees being cut, because when they are cut, I feel like I am losing part of my home. When asked about what the environment meant to her, Doa Santiaga, a ladina farmer from Acatenango, responded that her feelings were complicated and profound, and she felt that a poem best expressed how she felt about Gods creation:

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43 Ambiente Sagrado Monumento de la Creacin Dios, Dios te ha designado como Ejemplo y Bendicion Caminando, caminando Hoy no pude visitor aquellos Inmensos arboles donde Un dia Sali a jugar Caminando, caminando El aires fresco me abrazo Y el agua se calmo Juntos salvemos El medio Ambiente In English, the poem reads, Sacred environment Monument of Creation God, God has designed you as a Model and a Blessing Walking, walking, Today I could not see Those immense trees where I once used to play Walking, walking, The fresh air embraced me And the water calmed me Together, let us save The Environment. Clearly, Santiaga feels that the fields are more than a place of work; for her, the connection that she has with the environment is more than physical but emotional and spiritual as well. Like Patricia, Santiaga feels that the fields are more than a place of work. For Patricia, the fields are like a second home, while for Santiaga, they are a sacred place, a Monument of Creation. Santiaga goes on to say that to do harm to th e environment is to commit a sin, and that the deforestation that she sees around her causes her grief that she feel s in [her] heart and in [her] spirit.

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44 The sacred quality of the environment was also expressed by many Maya women farmers, and is perhaps not surprising, give n the great importance that Maya culture has traditionally placed on farming and on peoples connection to the land. In her memoir, Maya activist Rigoberta Mench repeatedly notes how the earth, the seed, and corn are all recognized as the main sources of sustenance and therefor e sacred for many Maya (1984). It is also not uncommon for religious ceremonies to be he ld in rural Maya households when corn is both planted and harvested, and it is c onsidered a sin by many Maya to use land in a wasteful manner (Mench 1984; Montejo 1999; Fisc her and Hendrickson 2003; Fisc her 2004). Doa Lourdes, a Kaqchikel farmer in her mid-40s in Comalapa, laments the deforestation in the area, a sadness that she says is shared by the other Kaqchikel women she works with. She notes, Of course this [deforestation] is a prob lem, a big problem that concerns us and saddens us. Everytime I walked down the road, and I would s ee more trees cut, more naked land, my heart would cry. It would cry for what we have lost, what has been wasted, and also for what we will lose, for our future, for our children. Lourdes sadness and sense of lo ss is related to the ways in which the valuable, sacred land around her community has been mistreated and was ted. Her sadness is also related to the value of trees and the land in sustaining the co mmunity. When the land is mistreated, as she notes, the future of the community is placed in jeopardy. Doa Fidelia, the elderly farmer in Itzapa, expresses a similar sense of loss and concern for the future when she talks about the deforestation of her area. It is especially sad to know that so ma ny Maya are doing this to the land. We are farmers, and we have always been farmers, and people are supposed to know better! But people have forgotten that th ey are Maya, and they have forgotten how to care properly for the land, and now we have these problems. I try to tell people, to remind them of the importance of caring for the land. I show them my field, how strong the crops are, how great the trees are, and I tell them that the crops are strong because the trees are strong! People must listen, they must understand, because if they do notour land wi ll forget us the way that we have forgotten it.

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45 For Fidelia, deforestation thus represents more than a loss of trees; it also represents a loss of environmental knowledge and a lo ss of connection to the land that has traditionally been of great importance to Maya men and women alike for centuries. For women like Fidelia, the deforestation is even more painful when it is perpetuated by other Maya, who are supposed to know better, but have, over generations of resettlement and displacement, become disconnected from the land and forgotten how to properly care for it. Material Consequences The sadness and sense of loss that many wome n expressed represent only part of the story of environmental degradation in the communities. As the women also noted, the deforestation has very real, im mediate consequences for them as well. Primarily, these consequences relate to concerns of firewood and soil erosion. In areas of rural Guatemala, many families continue to cook over open fires. This cooking requires a tremendous amount of firewood; AIR staff member s estimate that nearly two tons of firewood are required to feed a family of four each year. Obtaining firewood does not necessitate felling trees; branches and limbs may be pruned to obtain fuel. However, the increasing deforesta tion of the areas means that it is becoming increasingly di fficult to find trees with branches suitable for use as firewood. This problem has directly impacted many of the women, who indicate that all the tasks relating to meal preparationincluding finding firewood fo r cookingare often their responsibility. For the women who cannot afford to buy firewood on a re gular basis, this means that they have to procure it themselves, usually in th e mountains or fields outside of the city. Doa Ivelisse in Itzapa notes that prior to working with AIR, her search for firewood could often turn into an all day, exhausting affair:

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46 Every week, once each week, I would walk nearly two or three hours, out of the city, past the farms, up into the mountai ns, up, up, just to find some branches for cooking. I would have to walk so far, because I had no trees in my field, and no one else had trees, and I wa s not going to steal other peoples trees or branches! Then, I would carry all this back down, on my head or my back, and it was very difficult if it ever started to rain! Fi nally, I would get home, almost eight hours after I left. And then I would have to cook for six people! After working for AIR for more than five years, however, Ivelisse and ot her women in Itzapa are able to prune branches from trees in their fields in order to cook. While th e trees in their fields do not yield enough firewood for the amounts requi red by open fire cooking, they do reduce the number of times that the women must make long treks to find obtain wood. Ivelisse, for instance, notes that the number of time she mu st travel outside of Itzapa for wood has been reduced from four to two times each month. Doa Elsa, 38, also from Itzapa, explains that while she and her family were able to afford to buy firewood at least twi ce each month, she no longer has to, as she and her husband own two plots of land that have both been re-forested through AIR. These two plots now yield enough firewood for the family to cook with, although it should be noted that Elsa uses a more fuel-efficient stove that only requires one third of the firewood that the traditional open-fire method requires. Despite the improvements in the situations of women like Ivelisse and Elsa, the lack of firewood remains a deep concern for many of th e women interviewed. As Doa Fidelia noted, the problem has become so severe that people are literally steali ng trees from others property. Women in Acatenango and Comalapa also noted th at firewood is becoming increasingly scarce, and while some women are able to buy firew ood in town, others reported having to walk between two and six kilometers (one way) at l east once each week in order to obtain wood from outside the city limits. While most of the wo men state that they prune branches for firewood instead of cutting entire trees, many residents will cu t trees if cutting branches is insufficient.

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47 The high demand for firewood in rural areas, comb ined with the continued push of subsistence farming to the mountains, thus perpetuates a cycl e of deforestation that directly impacts the women and the work they do to feed their fam ilies. Finding firewood to cook with is but one concern that the women expressed with regards to deforestation, however. The following section will explore how deforestation is linked to othe r forms of environmental degradation in the communities. Storms and Mudslides The deforestation of mountain slopes and st eep hillsides aggravates a greater, more ominous threat of mudslides. While not every woman explicitly mentioned deforestation as an environmental problem in their communities, it is notable that every woman mentioned mudslides as a major concern. Many women li nked the problem of deforestation with soil erosion and mudslides, as did Doa Clementina, 53, from Acatenango: We have to farm to eat, of course, but the only places to farm are here, on these mountains that are very steep. This is a problem because people must clear spaces for their crops, and not everyone knows the importance of trees. But then, when the rain is strong, there are many crops that are washed away, and then what do people have to eat? While mudslides are always a threat during the ra iny season, they have been an especially grave problem in the months following Hurricane Stan. In October 2005, Stan made landfall south of Veracruz, Mexico, and brought heavy rains and flooding to much of Central America. In Guatemala, the heavy flooding caused massive landslides, destroying thousands of homes and partially or completely wiping out the water and sanitation system s of entire villages (see Figure 4-2). Overall, Hurricane Stan is estimate d to have caused between 669 and 1,500 deaths, and may have destroyed as many as 200,000 homes. According to Guatemalas Ministry of Agriculture, the immediate damage done to agriculture was assessed at approximately $46

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48 million, with subsistence farmers in rural areas particularly affected (American Red Cross 2005; Unitarian Universalist Service Committee 2005). Figure 4-2. Aftermath of m udslides near Acatenango. Even in June, nearly nine months after Stan passed through, the communities are still recovering, and mudslides continue to pose a threat. The torrential ra ins of Hurricane Stan led to vast amounts of soil erosion here, and saturated the ground. This sa turation in turn increases the probability of future mudslides, as any additional amount of rain causes the soil to move. In Guatemala, the rainy season runs from May through August, and in these months after Stan, soil erosion represents a grave problem that threatens the safety of many families in highland communities. In Acatenango, Doa Emelia 38, identifies mudslides as the biggest environmental problem facing th e community. She notes that, This was only a small problem before St an, but after Stan, a big problem. A family in town completely lost their house because of a mudslide, and another friend of mine has much fear because now, during this time of year, there is much rain, and her house is at the bottom of a hill. She has a husband and three small children, and she has fear because there is no place she can go, and every day, it rains more, and more mud slides down. We are trying to find a house for her if she loses hers, but it is difficult, because our houses are so small, and our families are big, so there is not enough room. I dont know what will happen to her.

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49 The immediacy of the threat is evident in Doa Emelias concern for her friend. While she is anxious about her friend, Emelia is also concer ned for herself as well. She goes on to say, Of course, I am worried about my own family, t oo. Really, when it rains so hard, no one is completely safe. Thus, Emelia is aware that the problem of mudslides is one that affects the entire community, and is not restri cted to one or two families. Other communities have been similarly affect ed. In Comalapa, for instance, mudslides have made it even more difficult to farm in an already precarious area. Doa Mona, 42, notes that while she is not overly concerned for her safety, she does have to take extra care when farming. She says that The soil can be loose, an d it is easy to slip on the rocks. I do not like to bring my young children with me, because it can be dangerous, so I ask my older ones to watch them when I am working [in the field]. She extends this danger beyond her own personal experiences, however, noting that I am only one of many farmers here. I know that others have the same difficulties like I have. Thus, Mona connects her experiences to the experiences of others in situations similar to hers, concluding that the dangers inherent in farming on steep, unstable slopes are dangers that many farmers in Comalapa have to contend with. As women are the primary farmers in these areas, they are also the ones who are placed in the greatest danger. In addition to affecting farming conditions, th e mudslides have affected other aspects of life in highland communities, including finding water for bathing and washing clothes, as well as travel. In Acatenango, while some residents have running water, many do not. In order to wash clothes, many women make w eekly trips to a community pila, a set of outdoor sinks constructed out of stone where people bring their clothes or dishes to wash. One of the main pilas in Acatenango was not equipped with running water, but was built near a river that ran outside of town, so that people could easily fetch water as needed. Unfortunatel y, the river ran alongside

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50 the base of a hillside that had been recently de forested in the summer of 2005. After Hurricane Stan passed through, a tremendous amount of soil a nd sediment was washed into the river, so that the water source was dried up (see Figur e 4-3). Now, women who used that pila on a daily or weekly basis must go to another part of to wn, which one woman described with distaste as being too far away and too crowded. Figure 4-3. River on the outskirts of Acaten ango that was covered over by a mudslide. Travel has also been affected by deforesta tion and the resulting so il erosion in and around the communities. Shortly after Hurricane Stan passed through, a mudslide covered one main road in Comalapa. Although few individuals ow n cars or trucks in this area, it was not uncommon for as many as ten farmers to crowd into a truck on their way to their fields, which can be as far as seven kilometers, or four miles away. Now, the mudslide has made this road inaccessible to vehicles, and farmers must walk to their fields, carrying their tools on their backs. Doa Sofia, 33, and Doa Mona must walk at leas t five kilometers, or about three miles on steep roads and paths in order to get to their milpa plots which border each other. In Itzapa, farmers

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51 have experienced similar problems with regards to travel, as many paved roads leading outside of the city have collapsed as the ground undern eath has given way due to over-saturation. In poor areas on the outskirts of both of these comm unities, the government has done little to repair damage done to roadways. Lourdes in Comalapa e xplains that, This area is very poor, so the government does not care much about us. This ro ad has been covered for almost eight months, and only once did people from the government visit, right after th e hurricane. They left and never came back, so you see how much they care about us. We have to take care of ourselves here. While the mudslides have been especially detrimental to the women and the farmwork they do, the women clearly view the mudslides as being a problem for the whole community. Lourdes skepticism regarding th e government is shared by othe rs in the group of women she works with, and is unsurprising given the governme nts history of neglecting the needs of the poor, particularly indigenous populations (Nel son 1999; Brass 2003; Sanf ord 2003). However, also implicit in Lourdes comments is a certain tenacity, and a realiza tion that in order to improve the present situation, the residents of Comalapa must act to take care of [themselves]. Conclusion Both the Maya and ladina women farmers in this study are painfully aware of and affected by the increasing environmental degradation occurring in their communities. As process of globalization and neolib eralism continue to push poor farmers to the highlands, rates of deforestation in highland communities increase as individuals slash and burn trees to make space for corn and beans. This deforestation affects the women of these communities personally: on an emotional level, they lament the loss of trees which many regard as sacred; while on a material level, they must confront the problems of securing firewood when there is a scarcity of trees, and they must also struggle with th e difficulties of planting crops on eroding mountainsides. Additionally, the women also re cognize that the deforestation is a community-

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52 wide problem, particularly with regards to its role in aggravating dangerous mudslides that threaten the lives of their families and their neig hbors. Thus, the connect ion that the women, as subsistence farmers, have to the land means th at they are both aware of and affected by the increasing environmental degradation of their comm unities. This connection has also fostered a sense of urgency, an awareness of the need to act and address the problems at hand. The following section explores the ways in which th e women of Acatenango, Comalapa, and Itzapa have mobilized both locally and transnationally to combat the problems of environmental destruction in their communities.

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53 CHAPTER 5 ORGANIZING FOR FAMI LY AND COMMUNITY As we have seen, the connection that the wo men farmers in Guatemala have with their local environment is a close one, rooted in a ge ndered division of labor and the womens daily, lived experiences as both mothers and farmers fo r their families. This connection has in turn fostered an awareness amongst the women of pr ogressively worsening environmental conditions in their communities, as well as an awareness of the need to act to improve these conditions. In Acatenango, Comalapa, Itzapa, a nd other rural areas in Guatemal a women have taken steps to mobilize on behalf of the environment, their families, and their communities. Ecofeminist scholars note that such mobiliza tion is not uncommon for women in rural areas throughout the world, and is often fueled by the ecological insi ghts of women as subsistence farmers (Shiva 1989: 67). In Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development, ecofeminist Vandana Shiva highlights the work of women farmers in the Chipko movement, in which thousands of women mobilized in India in the 1970s to stop the logging of the forest s where they lived and farmed. As Shiva notes, this movement was motivated to protect the forests as sources of life and sustenance, and was organized on behalf of the co mmunity rather than on behalf of the women as individuals. Shiva writes that mobilizing around environmental issues is not uncommon in rural communities throu ghout the world, and that movements by rural women to protect forests or rivers have always been root ed in protecting their food base ( 97). As this food base nurtures not only the womens families but their communitie s as well, protecting it is a matter of both family and community survival. Thus, the uniqu e role that women have as farmers for their families means that they have an awareness of the need to act to preserve the environment as the source of life and food for themselves, their families, and their communities.

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54 Local and Transnational Organizing and Social Capital As poor farmers in rural Guatemala, the women in this study occupy a socially marginalized position in terms of their class and gender. The Maya women must also contend with the additional problem of racism, as di scrimination against indigenous populations in Guatemala has a long history dating back to th e colonial period and the enslavement and exploitation of the Maya by the Spanish. In orde r to empower themselves against these various intersecting oppressions, many women in rural areas of Guatemala have found it necessary to organize within their communities. All of th e women in this study belong to local womens groups that were organized by the women prior to their involvement with AIR. Each group has a leadership committee that is elec ted or informally agreed upon by the other group members. In Acatenango, Doas Santiaga and Emelia were elec ted to be the leaders because of their strong characters, as one woman asse rted, while in Itzapa, Doas Ma rta, Erelena, and Elsa were elected as president, vice-president, and secret ary, respectively, because they are among the few group members who are literate. Additionally, as Marta states, The other women also trust us, because we do not gossip. While the women do not use the term social capital in describing the groups, the concept is nonetheless helpful in understanding how the groups have proven to be helpful for the women who belong to them. As defined by Pierre Bourdieu, social capit al refers to the aggregate of the actual or potential resources wh ich are linked to possessi on of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognitionwhich provides each of its members with the backing of collectively owned capital, a credential which entitles them to credit, in the various senses of the word (1986: 248-9) While social capital may be conceptualized in the same way as econo mic capital, it is important to note that the

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55 former increases rather than decreases with use. Th at is, networks a nd relationships are strengthened the more they are used. For the women in this study, the groups they belong to serve as i nvaluable sources of social capital, providing means of both organizing and mobilizing resources. Doa Marta, a 43 year old Kaqchikel farmer in It zapa, describes the importance of the women working together for both social and financial reasons. She says, W e work together because we, as women, have many problems. We do not have a lot of education, and the majority of us cannot read or write. We are also very poor, but we do wh at we are able to help each ot her with these problems. As Marta also notes, the group of women serves as a source of emotional support and solidarity as well. She goes on: We work together because we understand each other. Psychologically, we understand the pain inside, and we know that we will listen to each othe r. We listen to each others problems, and we do not share them outside the group. So, yes, the group is important to us for many reasons. As a source of both social capital and emoti onal strength, the main tenance of the group and group solidarity is, therefore, imperative. It is thus important to note th at the groups in this study are homogenous in terms of ethnic makeup. In Acatenango, the women farmers are all ladina, while in Comalapa and Itzapa the women are all Kaqchikel Maya. This is perhaps not surprising given the fact that the history of Guatemala has been marked by racial tensions between ladina/o and Maya populations since the colonial period. These tensions continue to exist independent of class struct ure; thus, although both ladina/o and Maya farmers may be similarly impoverished, racism against the Maya con tinues to divide all cla ss levels in Guatemala (Mench 1984; Nelson 1999; Fischer and Hendr ickson 2003). Additionally, as the different ethnic groups share distinctly diffe rent histories and experiences, it may be easier to maintain

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56 group solidarity and cohesion if everyone shares th e same understandings of what it means to be a poor ladina or Maya woman farmer in contemporary Guatemala. While none of the women specifically mention the tendency to organize along racial boundaries, several of the women highlight the importance of sharing similar unde rstandings and values wi thin the group. Doa Marta notes that the Kaqchikel women in the group in Itzapa understand each other, while Doa Ana in Comalapa also notes that the group works well for similar reasons. She says that the group has existed for many years, because we are all organized, we are all friends, and we all want to work together and help each ot her. We understand the importance of working together, and of knowing what each one of us n eeds. We know this because we all grew up together, right here. We are like sisters. In Guatemala, ladina/o and Maya populations have expe rienced drastically different histories based on their race. Th ese differential experiences conti nue today, and continue to be a source of division within all social classes in Guatemala (Nelson 1999). Overcoming these divisions may prove difficult, and attempting to do so may neither be practical nor desirable, particularly for women like Marta, Ana, and others in difficult conditions where ones quality of life is so dependent upon strong relationships a nd social networks base d on mutual trust and understanding. In order to better understand how various soci al networks and social capital operate in poor communities like those in rural Guatemala, it is also important to note that simply because individuals have access to social capital does not mean that they will be able to use it. As Cecilia Menjvar notes in her book Fragmented Ties the social context in which individuals live, as well as their social position dictate the quality an d quantity of resources they have available. Menjvar notes that the kinds of resources that peopl e have access to is of great importance, as

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57 this access determines if and how well they will be able to mobilize their social capital. Thus, if individuals do not have access to desirable good s and information (or to people who control them), their ties, no matter how strong, may not yield any benefits (2000: 149). Therefore, while women farmers in Guatemala may have strong social ties, their ability to access the social and financial resources necessary to combat e nvironmental problems in their area is severely limited by structural factors lik e impoverishment and limited opport unities for the upward social mobility of poor women in Guatemala. As Menjv ar states, when all members of ones network live in highly constrained conditions, links to multip le social fields that could create social capital are practically non-existent (156). For women farmers in Guatemala, then, m obilizing locally to combat environmental degradation may be necessary, but it is not sufficient. In order to break the cycle of increasing deforestation and the myriad other problems a ssociated with it, th e women in Acatenango, Comalapa, and Itzapa, made collective decisions in their various groups to seek outside help from a transnational organization, the Alliance fo r International Reforest ation (AIR). In her book Latina Activists Across Borders (2007) feminist scholar Milagros Pea stresses the importance that both local and transnational ne tworking has for womens organizations, noting that transnational organizing serv es to not only link local struggles to larger movements, but can also allow disadvantaged populati ons to have access to resources they may not otherwise have. As the women in this study explained, they made the decision to work with AIR out of necessity, as they did not have the financial, social, or t echnical resources necessary to effectively address environmental problems in their communities. As their comments illustrate, the decision to work with AIR was primarily based in their concern fo r protecting the future of not only their families but their larger communities as well.

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58 The Environment and the Family Like the women participating in the Chipko movement in India, the women farmers who participated in this study were concerned with how environmental degradation in their communities would affect their abilities to provi de food for their families. When asked what motivated them to work with AIR, many women c ited their concern with pr otecting the future of their children. This point was strongly empha sized by the women in Acatenango and Comalapa, the communities that were most heavily impacted by Hurricane Stan and the resulting mudslides. When observing the hillsides that were washed aw ay by Stan, it is striking to note the differences between well-forested slopes and those that had b een deforested. In the areas where there had been few or no trees, the ground appears to have opened up completely; th ere is either only soil or a deep crevasse where, as many women indicated, families crops used to be (see Figure 5-1). Figure 5-1. Eroded areas and forested areas of a hillside, post-Hurricane Stan. This is near Acatenango, where the trees ar e nearly three years old. Note how the forested areas of the hillside have held, while othe r areas of the hillside have collapsed.

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59 A few of the women had crops that were wash ed away by the mudslides, with devastating effects. Doa Santiaga in Acatenango, says that: After Stan, there were several families w ho lost everything, everything. We were all affected, of course, but some of us we re not as badly affected as others. I know for me, it is because I plant trees with my crops, and I thank God that they saved my field. If they had not, I, too, would have lost everything, and my family would have nothing to eat. Santiaga goes on to emphasize how the greatest devastation that the mudslides caused was the destruction of so many families milpa plots: People come here and think Oh no, so many people lost their homes and they donate clothe s, or money, or whatever. But they do not understand that the biggest problem is that we lo st our food! All these hills that are washed away, those were the crops, the food of many fa milies, many families. Like Santiaga, Doa Emelia is concerned for the well-being of her own family and others. Emelia says that she is devastated by the pain that other families are going through, and while some of her crops were damaged during Hurricane Stan, she is convinced that the trees help ed to protect the majority of them. She says, I thank God that my fields we re saved. Now more than ever my husband and I understand the importance of planting trees with our crops. It is si mple: if there are no trees, then there are no crops, and no food fo r ourselves or our families. Thus, for women in both Acatenango and Coma lapa the destruction of Hurricane Stan continues to serve as a grim, da ily reminder of why they work with AIR. In Comalapa, Doa Lourdes contends that her crops were saved fr om Stan because of the trees she planted around them. While AIR has only been working with fa rmers in Comalapa for two years, Lourdes has been planting trees with her crops for much longe r, and says that it was through her prodding that other women in the area sought out AIRs help. She says,

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60 Where we live, it is difficult and dangerous to farm. It is very steep here, and even a little bit of rain can wash the soil away. It is foolish to not use trees to protect the soil; this is the way my family has always done things. Other families do the same, but many do not, and it is foolish. I do not understand why people do not want to take care of their future. Do they not understand that it is not only themselves they have to worry about, but their children and their grandchildren? Lourdes goes on to say that she and the other wo men who work with her try to help the other families whose crops were destroyed by Hurricane St an, but that it is difficult to do so, because they have barely enough to feed their own families. The difficu lties of this situation have motivated Lourdes and others to work even hard er to improve their situation. Lourdes says, Sometimes, when I think about how difficult li fe here is for so many people, I get angry, because no one should have to struggle like this. This anger is what has motivated me to work with AIR, because I have such a strong desire that our situation can improve, and it must improve, for ourselves and for our children. Doa Sofia echoes this sentiment, noting that We have many difficulties here [in Comalapa], but of course we cannot lose hope. In our struggles, we have found strength. We have to be strong, for our families and our communities. It is the only way to survive. For women like Lourde s and Sofia, the social and environmental injustices that have caused such difficulties fo r theirs and others families have motivated the women to work that much harder to ameliorate the problems faced by their communities. For them, the decision to work with AIR was motivat ed by necessity, by the need to survive, as Sofia notes. For these women, transnational organizing through their work with the NGO has become a crucial part of the struggle for su rvival in the highlands of Guatemala. Gender Differences Another interesting theme to emerge from th e interviews was some womens assertions that their concerns regarding the environment we re distinctly different from those of their husbands or other men in the communities. D oa Erelena in Itzapa no tes how her husband, who

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61 is a construction worker, initially made fun of the group of women when they decided to seek AIRs help. She says that, At first, when we first started working with AIR, he would always laugh when I told him about planting trees. He would say Oh, we had to cut down many trees today, so you and your friends better go pl ant some more. But now, after five years, our crops have doubled. And a nei ghbor of ours, after Stan, lost nearly 300 pounds of beans because he did not have any trees with his fields He, too, used to make fun of us. Now, he doe s not laugh, and neither does my husband. Doa Marta, also from Itzapa, similarly notes how men and women treat the environment differently. Like Erelenas husband, Doa Martas husband wa s skeptical about the womens decision to work with AIR. According to Mart a, despite considerable improvements in their crop yields since she began planting with tr ees, her husband still fails to acknowledge how important the trees are. She says, He just sees the trees as firewood, and ev en now, after our crops have more than doubled, he still asks me why I bother to plant trees. It makes me furious, and I reply, Why do I bother? I bother to plant tr ees because I have a family, because I have children to feed, and because I care a bout their future. I want them to have food, and I want them to have clean air, and water, and hope. But he always thinks so negatively, and it is so difficult to make him understand that the trees are more than tools; they are our future. Thus, for the husbands of some women in It zapa, trees and the environment have only utilitarian value as tools to construct or c ook with. In other commun ities, women also noted how men and women approached fa rming with different attitudes. In Comalapa, many of the men in the community are employed at large pl antations nearby, working to grow export crops such as snow peas and cabbage. Many of thes e men are required by the plantation owners to spray the crops with chemical pesticides on a regular basis, and some men use the same pesticides on their own milpa crops. One woma n in Comalapa tells a story of how she was angered when her husband brought home pesticides to use on their own crops. She says, I looked at him, and I told him, I have watche d you, ever since you began working there [on the

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62 plantation], ten years ago, and you have become more and more sick each year. And now you want me to use the same poisons that are maki ng you sick to grow food for your whole family? I refused. However, it was only when her husband spoke with a health care worker in the city that he became convinced that spraying his milpa might be detrim ental not only to his own health but the health of his family as well. While thei r family does not use pestic ides on their milpa, the husband continues to use them in his daily work at the plantation. Other women whose husbands worked on plantations, farming for wages, also noted similar differences in attitudes towards farming and the environment. When asked about these differences, some women noted that for the men saw the land as having only economic value, as a source of income. As Doa Clementina in Acatenango notes, Yes, we have to make a living from the la nd. But we also live with the land, with the environment. When we farm for our families, we recognize this, that we must protect the environment for our future. I do not think my husband is able to see this, because where he works, they are taught to farm in ways that are bad for themselves and the environment, with no consideration for the future, only for money. Thus, while women subsistence farmers recognize that farmwork is the only way for many rural families to secure an income, many also recognize that the land has more than mere utilitarian value, and must be protected and preserved as a resource for the health and well-being of present and future generations alike. Many women expr essed the recognition that the health of the environment is inextricably linked to the health a nd nourishment of their fam ilies, and that if it is neglected, the future of th eir children and community is similarly jeopardized. The women who shared farming responsibilitie s with their husbands, however, noted that their husbands not only supported but encouraged th em to work with AIR. Doa Lourdes, in Comalapa, notes that when she told her husband of the groups decision to work with AIR, he was very interested and wanted to learn more about the organization. He accompanied some

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63 of the women on their first trip to Chimaltenango to contact AIR. Lourdes says that, Everyone in my family knows the difficulties we face, and how life here can be a struggle. My husband and I both want the best for our family, and we want a future for our children. The work we do with AIR helps us to realize this future. Doa Ana, also from Comalapa, also i ndicates that her husband, Don Eduardo, was supportive of the womens decision to work with AIR. She says that, On many days that [my husband and I] work ed in the fields, we would talk about the problems of our community, about th e deforestation and the mudslides, about how it was becoming more and more difficult every year to grow crops here. We were concerned, for ourselves and for our children. We had heard about AIR through friends of ours, and when I told hi m that we [the women] wanted to go to Chimaltenango, he was very joyful. Ana goes on to say that since the group has been working with AIR, Eduardo has been very active in assisting the women with gr owing and nurturing the tr ees in the community nursery, which is near Anas house. She says that Now he helps take care of the trees in the nursery. He treats them like his own children. He is very tender with them, because he says that to care for them is to care for his own children. Lourdes and Anas comments suggest that for the husbands who share farmwork with their wi ves, the protection and preservation of the environment is of utmost importance, as it is linked to the protection of their own families. The Environment and the Community Many women emphasized that their motivation to work with AIR stemmed not only from concern with their family but with the wider community. Many of the families in these areas depend upon farming for their daily nourishment. Thus, for many women, the well-being and survival of not only their own families but thei r communities is linked to the health of the surrounding environment. As women in Acaten ango constructed many of the environmental problems in their area as community-wide problem s, many of the same women noted that their

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64 decision to seek out AIRs help was a decision th at would benefit the en tire community. Doa Emelia, whose friend lost many of her crops becaus e of Stan and is now in danger of losing her house, says that No one should ha ve to experience the problems that so many in Acatenango are experiencing. We realized this, and we realized that if we want ed to improve our situation, we had to ask for help. Doa Clementina, also fr om Acatenango, agrees. She says that, The work that we do here today with AIR gives all of us hope for a better future, with clean air, clean water, and strong crops. Thus, the motivation behind the womens decision to work with AIR is rooted in a concern for preserving the health and safety of not one or two families but all the members of the community. Similar sentiments were expressed by women in Comalapa and Itzapa. As nearly all the women in this study are lifelong residents of th eir communities, they ha ve close ties with many other individuals and families in the area. Many women spoke of their close relationships with others in the community, and as one women in Comalapa state d, We may not all be friends here, but we do care for each other. There are no strangers here The concern with protecting the community is therefore a heartfelt, sincere, and emotional one. Another woman in Comalapa says that, This work that we do [with AIR], we rec ognize that it is not only for us, for our families, it is for all of us, for everyone who lives here. I hope that more and more people here see the importance of the work we do, that it is not selfish work, but that we work for everyone. We all li ve here, many of us were children here together, and we have helped each other in the past. We must continue to help each other now, today. Doa Marta in Itzapa expresse s a similar sentiment when ta lking about working on behalf of the community: Because we ar e all close here, because we all know the troubles and joys and weaknesses and strengths of our town, we are concerned for its future. We all live here together, and we share the same troubles. Therefore, in order to overcome these troubles, we must work

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65 together. Another woman in Co malapa emphasizes that the work she does with AIR is out of a sense of spiritual responsibility to both the earth and the people of the community. She says that, It is difficult to live here, yes, but it is still our home, and it is s acred to us. Not only the trees, but the people, too. To care for the earth and fo r each other is to care fo r God. Thus, as these women explain, their sense of re sponsibility to their communiti es has emotional, social, and spiritual components. As they act as mothers a nd nurturers for the member s of their families, the women also act as providers for various member s of the community thr ough the environmental work they do. Many women describe how connect ed all members of the community are, and see how the work of one can benefit many. Doa Fi delia from Itzapa uses a beautiful analogy to describe this connectedness. She says, We are all like branches on a great tree, rooted in all that we share. When there is a sickness in the so il, then we are all affected. The concerns and troubles of one are the concerns of many. As the women have also demonstrated, the solutions and strength of one (or a few) can also be the strength of many. Conclusion The action that the women in this study took to mobilize both locally and transnationally was action they took on behalf of their families and communities. Recognizing that they had little chance of securing the economic and edu cational resources necessary to implement methods of agroforestry in their fields, the wome n decided to seek the help of a transnational NGO. As the women attest, this decision was made collectively, out of an interest of protecting the food base that feeds not only their own fa milies but their entire communities, which many women described as being like extended families. Interestingly, it is becoming evident in Itzap a, the community that has been working the longest with AIR, that the work the wome n have done on behalf of their families and communities has also benefited the women personally as well. Women have been working with

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66 AIR in Itzapa for nearly seven years, and have seen marked improvements in both the quality and quantity of crops that their fields produce. Both Marta an d Erelena report that their crop yields have nearly doubled sin ce they first began planting tree s in their fields with AIRs assistance. Now, the women have enough crops to f eed their families, with some left over to sell for profit. Both women have started advertising their crops within Itzapa, highlighting the fact that they are grown organically, w ithout chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Erelena notes that the demand for organically grown crops is increasin g, as there have been many reported cases of people becoming sick from crops sprayed with chemicals. With the money they have made from se lling their crops, both women have started working with other women in their group to st art a business of making and selling herbal shampoos, conditioners, and soaps. These products are made from plants that the women grow with their crops, including aloe, sebilla, and man zanilla. Marta reports th at the business is doing very well and has helped to supplement the incomes of the families of the women who are involved with it (see Figure 5-2). Figure 5-2. Label of manzanilla sham poo made by group of women in Itzapa.

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67 Thus, through the work they have done on behalf of their families and communities, the women of Itzapa have also empowered themselv es as well. Although the women of Acatenango and Comalapa have not yet seen all the fruits of the labor they do on behalf of their families and communities, their work has nonetheless proven be neficial in protecting both the environment and their food sources. The stories of these wo men are testament to th e power of collective action in the face of seemingl y insurmountable obstacles.

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68 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION In his article Surviving the Conquest, Guatemalan scholar W. George Lovell describes how Guatemala has been subject to at least three cy cles of conquest from the colonial period through modern times. Broadly, these cycles include the conquest by imperial Spain, the conquest by local and international capitalism, and the conquest by state terror during the civil war of the latter twentieth centur y. At the heart of these various cycles has been a struggle over land rights (1988). In the centuries from coloni zation to globalization, the conquest of land has left the rural poor of Guatemala, the vast majori ty of whom are indigenous, with small plots of land in Guatemalas highlands. Here, poor in digenous and ladina/o farmers must somehow carve out a living, farming to feed themselves in difficult, unforgiving te rrain. I would like to suggest that now, poor farmers in rural Guatemal a are facing a fourth cy cle of conquest of both land and resources, as the increasing globali zation of capitalism has led to unprecedented environmental degradation in Third World natio ns such as Guatemala. The spread of multinational agribusinesses like Chiquita, Starbuck s, and others, assisted by neoliberal reforms instituted by the WTO, the IMF, and the Worl d Bank, has continued to force poor farmers off their land, which is then used by the multinationals and their contra ctors to grow export crops. Forced off their lands, small scale farmers often relocate to the highlands, where they slash and burn trees to make way for their subsistence plot s. This process has become so widespread throughout Guatemala as well as Honduras and Nicaragua that st udies have found that Central America has lost the greatest percentage of forest cover in recent years of any world region (Carr 2003). Within this broad global and hist orical picture, I have tried to situate the stories of various Maya and ladina women in rural Guatemala, usin g a socialist ecofeminist analysis to show how

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69 their role as subsistence farmers has been imp acted by the environmenta l degradation occurring within their communities. It is true that a review of history and theory is necessary in understanding the progression of en vironmental degradation, and how this degradation affects individuals differentially according to intersecti ons of nationality, race, gender, and class. However, it is only through the wo rds and stories of people like D oas Marta, Santiaga, Lourdes, and others that we are able to see how these gl obal, historical processe s are played out in the everyday lives of individuals. Through these stor ies, we are able to see how deforestation, soil erosion, overuse of pesticides, and other problem s have impacted numerous aspects of life for these women and their families and communities. Deforestation has not only emotional but material consequences for these women farmers, as many express a sense of sadness and loss as more and more trees are cut in their communities. Additionally, as more trees are cut to make way for subsistence plots, these women must wa lk farther for firewood, and must also contend with the dangers of soil erosion and mudslides from deforested hillsides. In the various stories presente d here, however, we find not only a message of urgency but a message of hope and courage as well, as these women have taken it upon themselves to mobilize to fight the environmental degradation that threatens the well-being of their families and communities. As their role as farmers has made them more aware of the environmental problems in their various locales, it has also made them aware of the need to act to address these problems. Thus, these women have mobilized bo th locally and transnationally to secure the social, financial, and technical resources to stop and revers e environmentally destructive processes. As Vandana Shiva, Ivone Gebara, an d other ecofeminist scholars have pointed out, for women in Third World nations like Guatemala, mobilizing on behalf of the environment is

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70 more than a matter of tepid concern, but a matter of survival motivated in the need to protect a food base that nurtures the women, thei r families, and the larger community. Future, more large scale studies of this na ture that examine womens relationship with their environment in other regions of the globe could be helpful in de veloping both theory and policy that takes into account how historical processes of gl obalization and environmental degradation affect individuals diffe rently according to not only thei r gender, but their race, class, and nationality as well. Ecofemin ist theory in particular can bene fit from such studies, as it has often been criticized for being overly theore tical and lacking in em pirical evidence; for homogenizing women as a group and failing to take into account i ssues of difference; and for failing to take into account issues of globalizat ion as an extension of capitalist-patriarchy (Agarwal 1992; Sydee and Beder 2001; Eaton an d Lorentzen 2003). With regards to policy, studies similar to this have already had an im pact, as the United Nations has held conferences and generated policy initiatives that highlight the links between womens roles as farmers and providers for their families and their roles as environmental protectors. One such report by the United Nations Division for the Advancemen t of Women (UNDAW), entitled Making Risky Environments Safer, was developed from th e 1995 UN Fourth World Conference on Women. From a review of numerous case studies from around the globe, it concl udes that women and womens empowerment are indeed central in the development of an integrated global social movement toward sustainable development (UNDAW 2004: 9). A dditionally, the United Nations major document on sustainable developm ent, Agenda 21, has been adopted by more than 178 nations and includes a chapter on the importance of linking womens empowerment to the improvement of local environments (UNEP 1992).

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71 However, scholarly research has only begun to reveal the nature of the complexities and potentialities that characteri ze the relationship between the environment and women throughout the world. This relationship is complex and dynami c, and varies according to nation, race, class, and a host of other social markers. The more we learn about these connections, however, the better equipped we can be to challenge the system of capitalist-patriarchy that is implicated in both the exploitation of women as well as the na tural world. As Doa Marta in Itzapa says, People must recognize this: that we are all conne cted, not only to each other, but to the natural world. When we learn to care for each other, to not take advantage of each other, for money or other reasons, only then can there be equality and peace. We women here, in Itzapa, and in many other places, I think, recognize this. Now we just have to teach everyone else.

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72 APPENDIX A GUIDING QUESTIONS (SPANISH) Preguntas 1. Cuanto tiempo lleva viviendo en su comunidad? 2. Cuanto tiempo lleva trabajando con su grupo de mujeres? 3. Siente usted que es importante que las muje res trabajen juntas? Por que o por que no? 4. Por que razn el grupo d ecidio trabajar con AIRES? 5. En su opinin, cuales son los problemas ambien tales mas grandes con la que su comunidad se escuentra? 6. En general, que tipo de dificultades han es tos problemas causado en su comunidad y a usted en particular? 7. Se considera usted la agricultora principal de la milpa de la familia? 8. Esta Casada? (Si contesta si, prosiga con preguntas 9 y 10. Si contesta no, salte a pregunta 11). 9. Su marido la ayuda con el trabajo que hace con AIRES? 10. Que tipo de actitud tiene su marido re specto al trabajo que hace con AIRES? 11. En general, cual es la actitud de los hombres en la comunidad respecto al trabajo que hace con AIRES? 12. En su trabajo con AIRES, ha usted vist o algun benefico? Que tipo de beneficios? Muchisimas gracias por todo!

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73 APPENDIX B GUIDING QUESTIONS (ENGLISH) Questions 1. How long have you been living in this community? 2. How long have you been working with this group of women? 3. Do you feel it is important for wo men to work together? Why or why not? 4. Why did they group decide to work with AIR? 5. In your opinion, what are the biggest environmental problems facing your community? 6. What sort of difficulties have these problems caused your community in general, and you in particular? 7. Do you consider yourself the primary farmer of your family's milpa? 8. Are you married? If yes, ask questions 9 and 10. If no, go on to question 11. 9. Does your husband help with the work you do with AIR? 10. What sort of attitude does your hu sband have about your work with AIR? 11. In general, what is the attitude of men in the community about the work you do with AIR? 12. Have you seen any benefits from your wo rk with AIR? What type of benefits? Thank you for your time and help!

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74 LIST OF REFERENCES Agarwal, Bina. 1992. The Gender and Envi ronment Debate: Lessons from India. Feminist Studies 18 (1): 119-158. American Red Cross. 2005. Hurricane Stan: Mexico and Central America. American Red Cross Annual Report Washington, D.C.: The Ameri can National Red Cross. 3-4. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1986. The Forms of Capital. Pp. 241-258 in Handbook of Theory and Research of the Sociology of Education, edited by J.C. Richardson. New York: Greenwood Press. Brunk, Samuel and Ben Fallaw, eds. 2006. Heroes and Hero Cults in Latin America. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Bulbeck, Chilla. 2006. Fracturing Binarisms: First and Third Worlds. Pp. 37-41 in Beyond Borders, edited by P.S. Rothenberg. New York: Worth. Carr, David L. 2003. The Event Ecology of Deforestati on on the Agricultural Fron tier: The Sierra de Lacondon National Park, Guatemala. Paper pres ented at the Association of American Geographers Annual Conference, Los Angeles. Comisin para el Esclarecim iento Histrico (CEH). 1999. Guatemala Memoria del Silencio. Guatemala City: CEH. Churchill, Ward. 1998. A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to Present. San Francisco: City Lights. Danner, Mark. 1994. The Massacre at El Mozote: A Parable of the Cold War. New York: Vintage. Deere, Carmen Diana. 2005. The Feminization of Agriculture? Economic Restructuring in Rural Latin America New York: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. Deere, Carmen Diana and Magdalena Leon. 2001. Empowering Women: Land and Property Rights in Latin America. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Eaton, Heather. 2005. Introducing Ecofeminist Theologies. New York: T and T Clark International. ------. 2003. Can Ecofeminism Withstand Co rporate Globalization? Pp. 23-37 in Ecofeminism and Globalization: Exploring Cu lture, Context, and Religion, edited by H. Eaton and L.A. Lorentzen New York: Rowman and Littlefield. Eaton, Heather and Lois Ann Lorentzen. 2003. Introduction. Pp. 1-8 in Ecofeminism and Globalization: Exploring Cu lture, Context, and Religion, edited by H Eaton and L.A. Lorentzen New York: Rowman and Littlefield.

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75 Eaton, Heather and Lois Ann Lorentzen, eds. 2003. Ecofeminism and Globaliz ation: Exploring Culture, Context, and Religion. New York: Rowman and Littlefield. Falla, Ricardo. 1992. Massacres in the Jungle. Guatemala City: Editorial Universitario. Gebara, Ivone. 1999. Longing for Running Water: Ecofeminism and Liberation. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Fischer, Edward F. 2004. The Janus Face of Globalization: Economic Production and Cultural Reproduction in Highland Guatemala. Pp. 257-290 in Pluralizing Ethnography, edited by J.M. Watanabe and E.F. Fischer. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press. Fischer, Edward F. and Carol Hendrickson. 2003. Tecpan Guatemala: A Modern Maya Town in Global and Local Context Boulder: Westview. Hamilton, Nora and Norma Stoltz Chinchilla. 2001. Seeking Community in a Global City: Guatemalans and Salvadorans in Los Angeles. Philadelphia: Temple. Hamilton, Sarah and Edward F. Fischer. 2003. N on-Traditional Agricultural Exports in Highland Guatemala: Understandings of Risk and Perceptions of Change Latin American Research Review 38: 82-110. Hough, Richard, John Kelly, and Stephen Miller. 1982. Tierra y trabajo en Guatemala: Un evaluacin. Guatemala City: Ediciones Papiro. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2007. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis New York: Cambridge University Press. Kleysen, Brenda and Fabiola Campillo. 1996. Productoras de Alimentos en 18 Paises de America Latina y el Caribe. San Jose, Costa Rica: Instituto In teramericano de Cooperacion para la Agricultura. La Feber, Walter. 1993. Inevitable Revolutions: the United States in Central America. New York: W.W. Norton. Lovell, W. George. 1988. Surviving Conquest: The Maya of Guatemala in Historical Perspective. Latin American Research Review 23: 25-57. Lutz, Christopher H. and W. George Lovell. 2000. Survivors on the Move: Maya Migration in Time and Space. Pp 200-210 in The Maya Diaspora: Guatemalan Roots, New American Lives, edited by J. Loucky and M.M. Moors. Phil adelphia: Temple University Press. Menchu, Rigoberta. 1984. I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala. London: Verso.

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76 Menjvar, Cecelia. 2000. Fragmented Ties: Salvadoran Immigrant Networks in America. Berkeley: University of California Press. Mies, Maria. 1986. Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale. London: Zed. Mies, Maria and Vandana Shiva. (1993). Ecofeminism. London: Zed. Minh-ha, Trinh T. 1989. Woman, Native, Other. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. 1986. Under Western Ey es: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses. Pp. 17-42 in Feminism Without Borders: D ecolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, edited by C.T. Mohanty. Durham: Duke University Press. ------. 1997. Women Workers and Capitalist Scri pts: Ideologies of Domination, Common Interests, and the Politics of Solidarity. Pp. 3-29 in Feminist Geneal ogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures, edited by M.J Aexander and C.T. Mohanty. New York: Routledge. ------. 2003. Under Western Eyes Revisited: Fe minist Solidarity Through Anticapitalist Struggles. Pp. 221-237 in Feminism Without Borders: De colonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, edited by C.T. Mohanty. Durham: Duke University Press. Montejo, Victor. 1999. Voices From Exile: Violence and Surviv al in Modern Maya History. Norman, OK: Oklahoma University Press. Naples, Nancy. 2002. Changing the Terms. Pp. 1-14 in Womens Activism and Globalization: Linking Local Str uggles and Transnational Politics, edited by N. Naples and M. Desai. New York: Routledge. Nash, June and Maria Patric ia-Fernndez-Kelley, eds. 1983. Women, Men, and the International Division of Labor. New York: State University of New York Press. Nelson, Diane M. 1999. A Finger in the Wound: Body Polit ics in Quincentennial Guatemala. Berkeley: University of California Press. Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). 1998. Health in the Americas, Volume II. Washington, D.C.: World Health Organization. Pearce, Jenny. 1986. Promised Land: Peasant Rebellion in Chalatenango, El Salvador. London: Latin American Bureau. Pea, Milagros. 2007. Latina Activists Across Borders: Womens Grassroots Organizing in Mexico and Texas. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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77 Philipose, Pamela. 1989. Women Act: Women and Environmental Protection in India. Pp. 67-75 in Healing the Wounds: The Pr omise of Ecofeminism, edited by J. Plant. Toronto: Between the Lines. Ress, Mary Judith. 2006. Ecofeminism in Latin America. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis. Ruether, Rosemary Radford. 1996. Women Healing Earth: Thir d World Women on Ecology, Feminism, and Religion. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis. ------. 2003. Foreword: Ecofeminism and the Cha llenges of Globalization. Pp. vii-xii in Ecofeminism and Globalization: Explor ing Culture, Context, and Religion, edited by H Eaton and L.A. Lorentzen New York: Rowman and Littlefield. ------. 2005. Integrating Ecofeminism, Gl obalization, and World Religions. New York: Rowman and Littlefield. Sanford, Victoria. Buried Secrets: Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Shiva, Vandana. 1989. Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. London: Zed. ------. 2000. War Against Nature and th e People of the South. Pp. 91-125 in Views From the South, edited by S. Anderson. Chicago: Food First Books. Stone, Michael C. 2000. Becoming Belizean: Maya Id entity and the Politics of Nation. Pp. 90-100 in The Maya Diaspora: Guatemalan Roots, New American Lives, edited by J. Loucky and M. M. Moors. Philadelphia: Temple. Strauss, Anselm and Juliet Corbin. 1998. Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Sturgeon, Noel. 1997. Ecofeminist Natures: Race, Gender, Feminist Theory, and Political Action. New York: Routledge. Sydee, Jasmin and Sharon Beder. 2001. Eco feminism and Globalization: A Critical Appraisal. Democracy and Nature 7 (2):281-302. Tanaka, Laura Saldivar and Hannah Wittman. 2003. Backgrounder Part I: The Agrarian Question in Guatemala Oakland, CA: Land Research Action Network. Torres Rivas, Edelberto. 1985. Report on the C ondition of Central American Refugees and Migrants. Washingt on, D.C.: CIPRA. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee ( UUSC). 2005. Hurricane Stan Strikes: Floods, mudslides cause death and despair in Guatemala. UUSC Annual Report. Washington, D.C.: American Red Cross Press.

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78 United Nations Development Program. 2000. Human Development Report 1999. Oxford: Oxford University Press. United Nations Division for the Advancemen t of Women (UNDAW). 2004. Making Risky Environments Safer. New York: UNDAW/DESA Press. United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). 1992. Agenda 21: United Nations Program of Action from Rio. New York: United Nations Press. ------. 2006. Planet in Peril: Atlas of Current Th reats to People and the Environment. New York: Earthprint. Warren, Karren. 2000. Ecofeminist Philosophy. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. Weyland, Kurt. 2004. Assessing Latin American Neo liberalism: Introduction to a Debate. Latin American Research Review 39:143-49.

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79 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Rachel Hallum is a Ph.D. candidate in sociolog y at the University of Florida. Her main areas of interest are gender, wo mens studies, race relations, and Latin American studies. She has been working with the Guatemalan-based non-governmental organization, the Alliance for International Reforestation, since 1992.