Elaine Elliott

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Ixil Maya, land tenure, land reform, land conflicto


After the Spanish conquest, the IxilMayainitially remained less affected than more centrally located groups. However, dramatic changes occurred due to Guatemalan national government laws in the late 1800s which allowed claims on “vacant land”. Maya on those lands quickly adapted, claiming the areas where they had lived for over a millennium. The government favored large landowners who contributed to the national economy with export crops, particularly coffee. In the 1950s era of land reform, small farmers briefly obtained land, something quicklyreversed with the overthrow of the national government, accused of communism for these reforms. Conflict escalated when a leftist guerrilla movement founded in the region in 1972 killed and kidnapped landowners as part of their recruitment efforts. In thesubsequent repression, the army destroyed villages, displacing many people, creating confusion over land. Competing land systems continue today, but our failing international ecosystem alerts us to respect how traditional worldviews can correct our exploitive use of land.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.