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Guatemala 2015



Here, in a village in rural Guatemala, elementary school children push a wheelbarrow of cow manure across the main road to add to their school compost pile. Their village is perched on a mountain in a cloud forest, 8,000 feet above sea level. In the far distance, volcanoes rise high above the clouds. Other children arrive at the school carting sacks of dry leaves, kitchen scraps, and grass. In six months, the compost will be ready to fertilize the Swiss chard, carrots, onions, and cilantro growing in the school garden. Mothers will use the produce to prepare nutritious snacks for their children.
– Libby Gaige © 2011
PCV, Guatemala 2009 - 2011 Sustainable agriculture, food security

Republica de Guatemala
Eastern AfricaCentral America

Area 108,889 km2 (107th)

Arable 14%

Population 14,373,472 (132/km2)

Gov’t Constitutional Democratic Republic

Capital Guatemala City (1M)

GCP/capita $5,300

Military 0.4% of GDP (165th of 195)

In poverty 54%

Life expectancy 71 yrs

HIV/AIDS 0.8% (62K people living)

Literacy 76%

Languages Spanish and 23 officially recognized Amerindian languages

Religions Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs

Agriculture sugar cane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom, cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens

Industry sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism

PCVs 1963–present

Peace Ranking 109th

Adult Books

Guatemala RainbowGuatemala Rainbow
By Gianni Vecchiato, (photographer), 1999

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Pomegranate; First Edition edition (October 1, 1989)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0876544440

Book Description
This book presents 150 superb photographs providing a magnificent view of the textiles, people, and daily life of Guatemala. It is truly a feast for the eyes and spirit.

Kids' Books

By Ann Cameron, 2003

Format: Paperback, 256 pp.
ISBN: 978-0440420521
Age Range: 12+ years
Publisher: Laurel Leaf; Reprint edition, 2005



Film: Las marimbas del infierno (Marimbas from Hell)
Director: Julio Hernández Cordón, 2011
Languages: Spanish
74 minutes – Guatemala

SYNOPIS: Boldly exploring the boundaries of fiction and documentary, emerging Guatemalan filmmaker Julio Hernández Cordón’s original and entertaining film follows three musicians from Guatemala City as they attempt to fuse improbable musical styles. The result is a skillfully constructed narrative that reflects on important issues in contemporary Guatemalan culture. Don Alfonso plays the marimba (xylophone) for a living but as his traditional music is seen as increasingly old-fashioned, he finds himself without a job. When his glue-sniffing godson introduces him to Blacko, an old heavy-metal legend of the Guatemalan underground, they decide to do something radical and fuse the sounds of the marimba with heavy metal. This innovative idea sparks the beginning of an unexpected collaboration. Filled with laugh-aloud moments, Marimbas from Hell is brilliantly farcical, but with a sharp strain of melancholy. Hernández Cordón continues his work with non-professional actors, creating an incredibly fresh and unique story that conveys a moving and authentic sense of Guatemalan life.

QUOTES/REVIEWS: “… a brilliant and absurd comedy however you look at it, funny and moving at the same time, whose centerpiece is an excellent excuse to create a fun and original story… this notable film from Guatemala is one of the best Latin American comedies in a long time, a true gem that should not be missed.”
Robert Koehler, VARIETY “A likable work, a mix of documentary and fiction whose characters resound with the humorless humor of Smoke, the Wayne Wang film with Harvey Keitel. Very precarious, yes, but with something that sets it apart itself from others, united in their vision of a forgotten continent. Actors not actors, locations “just around the corner.” A little surprise, over all for those who search for authentic Latin American cinema.” - Isabel Croce, DIARIO LA PRENSA


Documentary: When the Mountains Tremble
Director: Pamela Yates, Newton Thomas Sigel, 1983
Languages: English, Spanish
83 minutes – USA

Wikipedia: This 1983 documentary film focuses on the war between the Guatemalan Military and the Mayan Indian population of Guatemala. The film centers on the experiences of future Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, nine years after the film came out. When The Mountains Tremble won the Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival, the Blue Ribbon Award at the American Film Festival, and the Grand Coral Award/Best North American Documentary at the Havana Film Festival.

N.B. In 2014, filmmaker Pamela Yates said she would be re-editing the film to correct an error. A scene will be corrected to show that the Batzul massacre highlighted in the film was committed NOT by the military, but by leftist rebels disguised as soldiers. Yates has said she will also amend a 2011 follow-up documentary, "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator."


Documentary: Qak'aslemal (Our Existence)
Director: Alejo Crisóstomo, 2007
Languages: Maya
26 minutes – Guatemala

SYNOPSIS from IMBD: Qak'aslemal presents the diverse worlds that form the multicultural and multiethnic Guatemala. Through the personal view of its director, we see a knitting of images of Guatemalan people, the surroundings, jobs, and traditions in four musical movements: Genesis, Cultures, Religion, and Death. The arid view of the sandstone pillars of Momostenango, the hands of the women weavers of San Juan la Laguna, the huge kites of Sumpango, and the ruins of the Mayan civilization are some of the images registered to make an analogy with the cycle of life, in a perfect balance of beauty and reality.

For additional documentaries featuring Guatemala, go to:,asc&start=51


Barrio Candela: Barrio Candela (2007) [Full Album]

Ricardo Arjona ft Gaby Moreno: Fuiste tu (en vivo)

Magda Angelica: Espiral / AEI-Guatemala

Jursino Cayetano: Balandira

Focus Word

Focus Word for 2015 - "Water"

Spanish: agua (ahh-gwahh)

Bird motif from weaving
Copyright © Julie Olsen

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