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Cacao Communities in Guatemala, A Retrospective

Updated: Jan 14, 2022

Cacao Farmers in Guatemala have long been independent. Being Cacao one of the most sacred plants for the Maya people, they have been harvesting cacao for more than a thousand years. Cacao originated in the Central Region of America, from south of Mexico, all the way down to the north area of South America. Cacao was initially used as currency, for the ancient maya, cacao was one of the most cherished crops in their world, it became so important, that Maya people could trade almost any other good in exchange of cacao. Years passed, as well as civilizations, and the western world eventually crashed with the new world. The “Conquista“ eventually took over all of Mexico and Central America, as well as almost all of South America. and Guatemala was one of the first areas to be conquered. Sadly for the Spanish (But luckily for the Maya) they didn‘t found any big amount of valuable minerals around here, so the “Conquista“ in this area became a matter of religious faith, and a safe passage for goods coming from other areas of Central America and South America.

This lack of valuable materials (Gold, Silver, etc.) made Guatemala a very anarchistic place, Having the Vatican way to far away, and having monasteries and sects fighting for control over the population, they forgot that there already existed a very strong culture in Guatemala. A culture that adapted, and learned to survive in an oppressive system, mixing what they knew with what they were learning. They were able to insert the most important aspects of their culture into a religious faith known for overcoming and oppressing anyone who thought differently, and still make the invaders think that they had been converted.

This is how the Maya people were able to keep many sacred practices of their past, including the sacred worship of trees, and in it the cacao tree.

The cacao plant can be found all over Guatemala (where conditions meet the cacao plant requirements of course) and for many years, for the Maya communities, it was considered too sacred to have a market value, until recently.

Maya Cacao in the 21st Century

Maya people have been systematically oppressed since the 16th century, first by the Conquistadores, later by the Guatemalan elite, creating a country were over 60% of it‘s population is Maya, and still, most of them own nothing.

The cacao industry in the beginning of the 21st century in Guatemala was a little bit chaotic for the Community based farms, many of them lacked the means, knowledge and understanding of the market to create a cacao bean that could se

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