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Amigos de
A non-profit educational organization
Amigos de Patzún 131 N. Broadway, Suite A De Pere, WI 54115
Patzúz & Guatemala
Patzún, Chimaltenago is nestled at the foot of the Western Highlands. It has a population of 26,000 in the urban area, and 22,000 in rural communities. 95% of residents are Kaq'chikel Mayans and 5% are ladino. In recent history Patzún has been devastated by two historical events: 1) the earthquake of 1976 which destroyed most public and private infrastructure, and 2) the political violence of the civil war which peaked in the early 1980s. The civil war, or la violencia, in particular has left lasting physical, psychosocial and economic affects on rural Patzuneros. Civil Action Patrols were created to defend the interests of local political elites and turned community members against each other.
Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America and has the third most unequal distribution of income in the world. Guatemala's fledging democracy remains fragile and is widely susceptible to corruption and social investment based on entrenched political interests. In addition, it is a country whose population is struggling to recover from a 36- year civil war, know popularly as la violencia, "the violence." Today, 57% of Guatemalans live in poverty and 20% live in extreme poverty. Great inequalities exist between urban and rural populations, and between ladinos (mixed blood) and indigenous Mayan ethnic groups. Despite a return to democracy and increased social accountability, Guatemala's socio-economic indicators are bleak. Guatemala ranks among the worst in Latin America for life expectancy, infant mortality (39/1,000 live births), maternal mortality (153/100,000) and chronic malnutrition among children (49%). Guatemala also trails other countries in access to education, and has the third highest illiteracy rate in the hemisphere. Fortunately, Guatemala has been endowed with many advantages. It has a diverse and breath-taking geography and ecology; rich cultural pluralism and indigenous traditions; and the largest economy in all of Central America. Certainly with proper social investments, Guatemala will achieve greater social equity and economic prosperity.
Guatemalan History