Project: Guatemala

“Buenos días”
“Good day”

Country Overview

Guatemala, from the Náhuatl name “Cuauhtemallán”—which means “Territory with Many Trees” or “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.

Starting in 1524, the territory and people of Guatemala were under the domain of the Spanish crown, resulting in a socio-cultural and political breakdown which ended with national independence in 1821. The social organizational patterns from this period are one of the main causes of poverty and extreme poverty in present-day Guatemala. The newly independent nation’s vision was based in the
exclusion of indigenous people who would keep the regimen of working to pay debts, which assured forced and cheap labor.

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.

During the second half of the 20th century, the country went through a 36-year guerrilla war, formally ending in 1996 when the government signed a peace agreement.

Guatemala’s current situation involves complex problems in the areas of:

a) security and human rights
b) economic growth
c) social development


Heifer's Work in Guatemala

Heifer’s history in Guatemala began in 1970 by providing small livestock species to families in remote rural areas that were affected by 36 years of civil war. The program’s approach is to work with impoverished rural communities and ethnic groups to improve their livelihoods. Guatemala’s projects promote agroecological practices and work toward the recovery of traditional agriculture knowledge as well as to strengthen local organizations.

Key Services Heifer Provides:

Sustainable agricultural production: Promoting rural, diversified and sustainable production systems; natural resource conservation; spreading practices and expertise about ancestral farming; using native seeds and livestock; agroecological production

Post-harvest management and processing: Training performance monitoring and evaluation techniques

Market development: Direct marketing between producers and consumers

Technology: Facilitating technology transfer between farmers

Nutrition: Advocating for food sovereignty policies

Projects & Families
Projects & Families

Edwin from Guatemala


When Edwin's mother received 10 chickens, she was overwhelmed with gratitude by the kindness of strangers.

Projects & Families

Each Year the Harvest Grows


Twenty years ago, Esperanza’s father and grandfather decided to change their family’s future by laying claim to the land the family now lives on.

Projects & Families

Making Tortillas in Guatemala


Mrs. Francisca Najera Vasquez lives in the tiny village of El Duraznito, Guatemala with her husband and 7 children, and has a lot of experience making tortillas.