November 9, 2007

Benpec el Castaño, Historic Day

Today the neighboring town to Salacuim, Benpec el Castaño, held a ceremony where the community members received titles to their land after a long and arduous process. This town is only a 30 minute walk or a short bike ride from Salacuim, and Kari & I often go there to visit the river for swimming or just to pass time. Our Peace Corps site-mate Nicole works with a womens group from Castaño that makes hand woven fabrics. I've worked with their community association this year to form a group that was trained in the principles of community tourism. So this community is really part of our Peace Corps "site"; we've made friends and memories there.

It was special to see a group of farmers that have never owned land, achieve something that will benefit them and their future generations. As Guatemala has a long, long history of land rights struggles, it's encouraging to see that at least some local farmers are receiving the basic necessity to build a better future for their families: a title deed to their land.

Here are the few of the details of the purchase:
  • 75 families received land, all as part of an farmers association
  • each family will receive about 12 "manzanas" of land (about 21 acres)
  • Each family will pay subsidized price of Q11,800 over a maximum of 8 years for their land (through the local association)
  • The community will also receive support with various production projects to help them get started (pineapple, cacao, reforestation, cattle, and tilapia)
  • Their are about 1500 acres in the community, and the sale price (from a private owner to the government) was Q2,400,852.50. This implies that the land is worth about $210/acre.

1 comment:

Marisol said...

Interesting to know.