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Heifer's Work in Guatemala

Country Overview

Guatemala, from the Náhuatl name “Cuauhtemallán”, which means “Territory with Many Trees” / “Country with Many Forests”, is where the Maya people flourished, developing advanced knowledge in sciences, math and astronomy. With their outstanding accomplishments in painting, sculpture and engineering and building great metropolitan cities, Guatemala is now a cultural heritage of humanity.

The revolutionary movement of 1944 was a landmark in Guatemala’s history, abolishing forced labor, implementing social security and agrarian transformation, which was indispensable to drive the economy to obtain a decent, independent life. In 1954 the revolutionary movement was abruptly interrupted due to development models ranging from imports-substitution industrialization, Central American economic integration, to structural adjustment and, more recently, the globalizing neoliberal model.

Guatemala's current situation involves complex problems in the areas of security and human rights, economic growth, and social development.

These proposals have favored the interests of a small group of people with large amounts of capital, excluding most of the Guatemalan population to receive the benefits of development. Guatemala’s current situation involves complex problems in the areas of: a) security and human rights, b) economic growth and c) social development.

Heifer Guatemala

A local national organization supported Heifer's efforts until the beginning of 1973. It was during this period that the greatest import of cattle was shipped, and agreements were made with producers to exchange and reproduce mixed and adapted livestock, which were later given to low-income families in rural areas.

El Duraznito Village, San Carlos Alzatate Municipality, Jalapa District, Guatemala
El Duraznito Village, San Carlos Alzatate Municipality, Jalapa District, Guatemala.

From 1986 forward, the National Representative in Guatemala accompanied the Regional Cattle Committees in the development of projects, giving more emphasis to strengthening the processes of community organization and sustainable production, working according to the philosophy of Heifer and incorporating a vision of Integral Family Farms. Recently, accompaniment continued for community organizations with which Heifer had been working, and at the same time, special emphasis was given to establishing strategic alliances with second level organizations and NGOs. This helped amplify the positive impact and provided more integral support to the participating families.