The Depths of Division Focus Trip is an interactive, sociological analysis of the Ladino-indigenous dichotomy in Guatemala. To responsibly grasp the current socio-political context of the country, this trip will include a balance of community visits as well as presentations in which we will delve into Guatemala's history, pre-conquest ideologies, understand the emergence of the term "Ladino," current cultural clashes, hope for moving forward, and more. These academic spaces will be facilitated by Daniel Nuñez, a cultural and political sociologist originally from Guatemala City. In his combined experience researching and teaching previously at the University of Pittsburgh and currently at two Guatemalan universities, Rafael Landívar and la Univeridad del Valle, he has written, researched, and presented extensively about Guatemalan social and political issues. His personal and professional background provide valuable insight during group presentations, discussions, and reflections.
sAMPLE tRIP oUTLINE: tHE Depths of Division
Trip focus: Sociology, history, anthropology
Best for: University group/researchers/adults
Time frame: Designed to be 11-15 days long but could be shortened or lengthened depending on the group's availability and topics of interest
Trip description: A sociological exploration of the indigenous-Ladino dichotomy in Guatemala. Our travels with be accompanied by analyzing the coexistence and clashes among these two groups.
Location: Guatemala City/Antigua, Lake Atitlán, Quetzaltenango, San Marcos, & Ixil Region
See the trip outline below, which chronicles the order of activities and topics covered, but is ready to be customized to your group!
Introductions & Orientation
Understanding Guatemala's history, pre-conquest ideologies, the emergence of the term Ladino, and co-existence of indigenous and Ladino populations (Guatemala City or Antigua, 1-2 days)
-Presentation: Outlining the Four Invasions; an introduction to Guatemalan history from the Spanish Conquest to present day
The First Invasion: The Mayan Conquest
Examining cultural preservation among Maya Tz’utujil communities who have fought to maintain their social structures and spirituality throughout and following the Spanish conquest (Santiago Atitlán and San Juan la Laguna, 4-5 days)
-Visit to Catholic church in Santiago Atitlán to see the ways that the Mayan Tz’utujil population incorporated Mayan ideology and spirituality even as they were ordered to construct this church during the Spanish invasion
-Visit Maximón, a Tz'utjil saint that represents Spanish resistance and the preservation of Tz'utujil spirituality
-Presentation: People of the Corn--understanding the creation story from the Popol Vuh, the Mayan sacred text
-Workshops with various artisans, artisans, and weavers to witness how culture is preserved through artistic expression and artisanal practices.
-San Juan Mural Tour, seeing the story of invasion and preservation told through street art
The Second Invasion: The Rise of Commercial Agriculture
Learning how Guatemala became a coffee-exporting country at the expense of enslaving indigenous communities (location TBD based on group objectives and time available, 1-4 days)
-Presentation: The Rise of the Coffee Industry
-Through a series of presentations, films, and community visits, we will learn about the policies implemented from 1871 until the Democratic Spring (1944-1954)
-Visits with coffee-growing communities
The Third Invasion: The Armed Conflict
Connecting with communities affected by the Armed Conflict (Western Highlands, 2-5 days)
-Visit a coffee cooperative to hear a different kind of coffee narrative--this cooperative is comprised of ex-guerilla members, who in the demobilization following the Armed Conflict, decided to reinvent themselves as coffee farmers
-Presentation: Understanding the Significance of the Genocide Trials in Guatemala
-Visit the Ixil Triangle, the community deeply affected by the Armed Conflict that was eventually part of the genocide trials against Efrain Rios Montt in 2013 and again in 2017
-Community visits to see how populations endured and survived the armed conflict and their attempts to recuperate afterwards
The Fourth Invasion: Capitalism & Extractive Industries
Understanding the impacts of extractive industries and transnational mega-projects in indigenous communities (continuing in the Western Highlands, 3-5 days)
-Hike into Vega de Volcán to visit an agroecology project and trout farm in the foothills of Volcano Tacaná and spend the evening in their eco-cabin
-Visit with communities affected by or threatened by the expansion of transnational mega-projects such as hydroelectric dams and mining
-Meet with resistance movement groups and leaders
Closing & Debriefing
Discussing the resulting impacts of the four invasions (Antigua or Guatemala City, 1-3 days)
-Presentation: The Current Socio-Political Context of Guatemala
-Final debriefing and reflections
-Optional educational or recreational visit to another region of Guatemala--we're happy to help plan this part for you or get you there!