#Mots-clés : Eviction, Land Grabbing Dernière mise à jour le 7 June 2019



Guatemalan society is, since the Spanish conquest, divided into two groups: one of Mayan Indians, who constitute half the population, who are mostly very poor and live mainly in the highlands infertile . Secondly the “ladinos”, descendants of Spaniards and mestizos, mainly urban.

The lowlands of Peten, in the north, were the focus of the Classic Maya civilization, which reached its peak between the seventh and ninth century AD The site of Tikal is still home to the ruins of three 000 structures, including pyramidal temples, squares and monuments. Between 1250 and 1520 have organized the first states (Quiche, Cakchiquel), which should facilitate the perpetual wars of Spanish colonization.

A lieutenant of Hernán Cortés, Pedro de Alvarado, who conquered the country in 1524. Santiago de Guatemala, the first capital, was founded in 1527. In 1542, the country formed the Captaincy General of Guatemala, dependent on the viceroy of Mexico.

Independence was proclaimed in 1821, and the late nineteenth century, the country entered a phase of economic expansion (development of coffee growing and infrastructure) which was accompanied by an openness to foreign interests. It was during this time that the American company United Fruit Company formed, on the Pacific coast, a real banana empire which was to be the largest economy of the country.

In the second part of the twentieth century, specifically from 1961 to 1996, Guatemala has suffered a bloody civil war in which government forces have sought to watch, often brutally, a growing movement for land rights and social justice.


Guatemala has been nicknamed, because of the relatively mild climate of its highlands, the “land of eternal spring”. It is on these highlands lies the capital Guatemala City (officially named Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción as opposed to Antigua Guatemala, the former capital of the country).

The land area of 108,890 km2 is. Its natural borders the Caribbean Sea to the east and the south Pacific Ocean, and shares borders with Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. Guatemala is crossed by the great volcanic mountain range type (Sierra Madre) that forms two channels with an average altitude is 1500 meters and where there are very high volcanoes, mostly extinct. The country is nonetheless an intense seismic activity because earthquakes are common near the volcanic belt.


Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America, he presented at the 2002 census a population of 11.5 million, and exceeded 14 million in 2010 according to estimates. 50% of the population live in cities, including about 2.5 million people live in slums. Guatemala is the second least urbanized countries in Central America, after Haiti. The density is 128 inhabitants per km2. The main cities are Guatemala City with a population estimated at 4.1 million and with 500,000 Quetzaltenango habitants.51% of the population lives below the poverty line, and 16% of the population is in state extreme poverty. Poverty is heavily concentrated in rural areas, since they concentrate 72% of those living below the poverty line and 83% of those living in extreme poverty.


Today, the Gini coefficient (measure of the degree of inequality of income distribution in a given society) of land concentration is 0.84 for Guatemala, one of the world’s highest and most highest in Central America. Indeed, a few large farms (about 2% of farms) has 57% of arable land, while small “fincas” inhabited mainly by indigenous people represent 67.5% of farms and occupy only 7.8 % of agricultural land.

Agriculture accounts for a quarter of GDP, two-thirds of exports. This sector also occupies half of the workforce. Coffee, sugar and bananas are the country’s main exports. Manufactured goods and construction accounted for 20% of GDP. The agriculture in the country is primarily food especially among Mayans. In medium rural areas, families are often forced to send one or more of its members in the fincas (large farms as the United Fruit Company) mainly located on the coast where the land is more fertile in order to survive the community .


Guatemala is a democratic presidential republic, with legislative and presidential elections which are held every four years. The president is both head of state and head of government. The President and the ministers he appoints are heads of executive power. The legislature consists only of a unicameral 113 members. The country is divided into 22 administrative departments, each headed by a governor appointed by the President.




– Guatemala City

Its official name Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, the current capital of Guatemala was founded in 1776 after the violent earthquake had damaged the ancient capital (Antigua Guatemala). Located in the Highlands, part of the present territory of the city was occupied at the time by a Maya city name Kaminaljuyú. The capital is now the country’s largest demographic, economic and political center and accounts for 50 to 60% of GDP, far ahead of the other larger cities. The old city was rebuilt on the site of the almost destroyed by an earthquake on Christmas Day in 1917, with its colonial protected grids perforated windows bass style homes and within the traditional decorated patio flowers and fountains. The city has experienced, again, severe destruction during the earthquake of 1976. It is dominated by three volcanoes: Agua, Fuego and Pacaya.

A strong social polarization characterizes the urban space. The upper classes have abandoned the historic center for residential and commercial spaces more closed and secure, located south of the city and along the road to El Salvador. Central areas, where rental housing is now have a much popular identity. The precarious housing slums remains confined to steep slopes of ravines cut into the bottom of the pool, while self-built subdivisions multiply on the outskirts of the city. All urbanized now extends beyond the basin Guatemala along two main lines, one to the large plantations of the Pacific coastal plain to the south, the other to the altiplano high Indian population, west. No common political and administrative entity does not manage this heterogeneous group of municipalities with very unequal resources.

Guatemala City is subdivided into 22 zones, each with its own streets and avenues, making it extremely difficult to find addresses in the city. The zones are numbered from 1 to 25 but the zones 20, 22 and 23 do not exist. Addresses are assigned according to the number of street or avenue, followed by a dash and the number of meters indicating whether it is far from the intersection. In theory, it is easy to find an address. Unfortunately, there is no order in the areas, which means that in reality, it is almost impossible to navigate.

– Quetzaltenango

Founded at least 300 years before the Spanish colonization of the Americas, Quetzaltenango, the second largest city, at the time was a Mayan city called Xelaju, hence its current nickname Xela (pronounced “Chela”). With 500,000 inhabitants, it is the second largest city of the country, far behind Guatemala City. The city is situated on a vast plain surrounded by hills and volcanoes. It preserves the ancient traditions Quiche Maya and colonial past, while maintaining the dynamism of modern life.



Since 1985, the right to housing is enshrined,

  • Article 105 of the Constitution : The State, through specific entities will support the planning and construction of residential complexes, establishing adequate systems of financing that will meet the various programs so that workers can choose adequate and safe housing. Business owners will be forced to provide their workers, as the case may be established by law, dwellings that meet the above requirements.
  • Section 119 (g) of the Constitution : The fundamental obligations of the State are: primarily promote the construction of popular housing, with adequate financing systems so that the greatest number of Guatemalan families become homeowners. When it comes to recent housing or cooperative, the detention system may be different.

Source: CETIM (publication COHRE)


Violent evictions of peasants and indigenous people along the tracks are orchestrated by the government of Alvaro Colom, the army and the police. These expulsions favor large landowners Guatemala.www.habitants.org_var_ezwebin_site_storage_images_spazio_degli_abitanti_organizzati_el_presidente_alvaro_colom_de_guatemala_ordena_desalojos_violentos_contra_campesinos_indigenas_y_habitantes_de_las_vias_ferreas_1680855-1-esl-mx_el_presidente_alvaro_colom_de_guatemala_ordena_desalojos_violentos_contra_campesinos_indigenas_y_habitantes_de_las_vias_ferreas_imagelarge.jpg



In addition, the country lacks adequate and specific legal instruments to meet the agricultural complex dynamics. Discrepancies remain between the existing legal and customary practices of indigenous law, which are still not recognized by the state. Laws, regulations and procedures relating to agriculture have no structural coherence and do not respond quickly to conflicts over land. As a result, a large proportion of land disputes is different in the ownership of the same property right.


According to the Political Constitution of Guatemala, the land of indigenous communities and agricultural cooperatives and other forms of communal or collective ownership, including family housing projects and property are under the special protection of the state. And they enjoy preferential assistance in terms of credit and technical terms to ensure their possession and development to reach a better quality of life for residents (Art. 67). Analysis of Articles 66 and 67 of the Constitution to conclude that there is a constitutional regime that protects the communal lands. Section 68 directs the state to provide state land to indigenous communities who need for their development.

The Land Registry Law (Decree No. 41/2005 of the Congress of the Republic) was published in the pursuit of peace agreements, and help clarify and resolve issues of land ownership in the country.

Since the last century, a solution to the lack of housing has been the creation of “pigeon” or neighborhood houses, large houses where several families live, thus reducing the cost of housing (see the “Yotivenco” in Argentina).


One of the most important challenges of Guatemala is access to land. On the one hand, a large number of low-income families have no legal proof that they own the land they live, although they have purchased or inherited. On the other hand, some families occupy informally property owned or private companies, and are confronted daily with the risk of forced eviction. These properties are rarely equipped with basic services and are often located in vulnerable areas, such as slopes of ravines large fincas and the banks of rivers and lands along the railway line. Video on 5 asentamiento district in November in Guatemala City.


  • Joungpeople
  • Old people
  • Women


Social and economic aspects


– SHORTAGE OF HOUSING : The housing shortage is a major problem in the country, according to El Centro de Estudios y Regionales Urbanos (SACEUR) of the University of San Carlos of Guatemala. It is estimated the deficit at more than one million homes today. This shortfall represents an opportunity for the owners, who thus increase rents, with the threat of eviction for non payment. To remedy this, in 1948, the government proposed the decree 504 “Act leases and construction of buildings,” to regulate the amount of rent. But this law finally saw the light of day, under pressure from the Association of urban owners and builders, who considered unconstitutional, despite the creation of the League of tenants who supported the draft Housing costs : Most families in need living in poorly constructed with unstable materials (corrugated iron, planks of wood or thatch palm) houses. Others, who do not even have this basic structure, pay more than half of their monthly income for many families occupied by tiny houses. Even when a family has moderate income or has managed to save a little money, getting a loan to buy land or buy a house in Guatemala is still often difficult. law. The decree was issued in lieu of the previous did not bring about the major regulatory changes in rents. Finally, it was in 1953 that lives in the day Leases Act, which declared the rights of preferred tenants, and canceling all other contracts that violate the rights of tenants.

See pdf at:

– COST HOUSING : Most families in need living in poorly constructed with volatile materials (corrugated iron, planks of wood and thatch palm) houses. Others, who do not even have this basic structure, pay more than half of their monthly income for many families occupied by tiny houses. Even when a family has moderate income or has managed to save a little money, getting a loan to buy land or buy a house in Guatemala is still often difficult.



The housing shortage in Guatemala is estimated at 1.2 million units. The armed conflict in Guatemala has resulted in the displacement of a million people, mainly to the capital but also to border regions. The population of the capital has believed in significant proportions, which led to the creation of numerous slums. To remedy this situation, the law on “Right to Housing” was finally approved in 1996. Supervised by the Ministry of Communications, Infrastructure and Housing, awarded the project budget is ridiculously low, and the corruption of government officials ate the budget, which leaves nothing for those who have real needs housing. Grant requests under this Act are subject to a very long and bureaucratic process, and also require the applicant a considerable sum of money, which many do not. This law does not currently represent a real solution. As a result, housing policy in recent decades has been mainly characterized by “cosmetic” solutions. Residents must first occupy a relatively uninhabitable terrain to gain the attention of authorities after a certain occupation time elapsed, the state may consider equipping the basic infrastructure.

www.habitants.org_var_ezwebin_site_storage_images_notizie_info_locali_guatemala._living_on_the_edge_of_the_abyss_2031141-1-eng-gb_guatemala._living_on_the_edge_of_the_abyss.jpgAs a result of these myriad problems, residents of slums and other social movements began to work themselves out of a bill, based on their own experiences on the Constitution, national laws and international treaties United Nations which guarantee the right to housing. The University of San Carlos and relevant state institutions have refined the proposal. In 2008, the project was presented to Congress. Again, the proposal was revised and finally approved by congressional committees. Since then, he’s stuck, he should no longer being checked and approved, which is basically a formality. Since August 2011, activists decided to create a “Congress of slums”, and camp outside the doors of Congress, until entendus.Leur claim: “We demand that shacks are transformed into livable homes that our land and our homes to be legalized so that we can finally connect us to basic services, we require that housing is provided to families who really need “to see the bill.:


Cultural aspects – Religious – Symbolic

Environmental aspects

Bibliography & Sitography


  • access to housing
  • the rents
  • the provision of urban services
  • equipment housing with basic services
  • legalization of the property for the urban and rural poor communities


Issue a presidential decree ending the forced evictions. Creation of a working group between the institutions and social organizations of different communities for the recognition of the right to land and housing.


This movement is made up of:

  • CONAPAMG, National Coordination of residents and marginalized areas of Guatemala (Coordinadora Nacional de Areas Pobladores there Marginadas Guatemala Roly Escobar)

  • ACONALFER, Association national coordination institutions railway line (Domingo Hernández)

Attach word doc Frepogua – Aconalfer

  • FREPOGUA, Front of slum dwellers in Guatemala, they claim the right to decent housing for families in slums.
  • UNASGUA, National Union of Guatemalan institutions (Luis Lacán)
  • ALAYCOPOGUA (Víctor González)
  • ACPD (Tomás García)
  • La Vía Campesina de Guatemala
  • Coordinadora Nacional de Viudas de Guatemala (CONAVIGUA-Mojomayas)
  • Coordinadora Nacional de Organizaciones Campesinas (CNOC)
  • Coordinadora Nacional Indígena y Campesina (CONIC)
  • Committee Unidad Campesina (CUC)