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The Sierra de los Cuchamatanes of Guatemala is the most massive and spectacular nonvolcanic region in all Central America. It lies at elevations ranging from 1,500 feet to more than 12,000 feet in the northwestern Guatemalan departments of Huehuetenango and El Quiché. The region's isolation and limited economic potential meant that Maya peoples there survived the Spanish Conquest and its destructive aftermath more resiliently than did native communities elsewhere in Latin America. The disruptions of the colonial period have had their modern-day equivalent in the form of violent civil war, the Cuchumatanes being the part of Guatemala hit hardest by counterinsurgency sweeps in the early 1980s. With the Guatemalan Peace Accords signed in 1996, one of Latin America's longest (36 years) and bloodiest civil wars came to an end. Remarkably, however, in light of the extreme poverty, and lack of basic infrastructure, education, and medical facilities, the Cuchumatán Maya endure, and culturally and demographically still constitute a visible, conspicuous element in the human landscape. The resolution of the bloody conflict has remarkably improved the capacity and success of both international nongovernmental organizations in Guatemala, and the relationship between the government of Guatemala and the local government. This has allowed large, integrated social services to grow.

See alsoGuatemalaxml .


W. George Lovell, "From Conquest to Counter-Insurgency" in Cultural Survival Quarterly 9:2 (1985): 46-49.

W. George Lovell, "Surviving Conquest" in Latin American Research Review 23, no. 2 (1988): 25-57.

W. George Lovell, Conquista y cambio cultural (1990).

W. George Lovell, Conquest and Survival in Colonial Guatemala: A Historical Geography of the Cuchumatán Highlands (1985, rev. ed. 1992).

Additional Bibliography

Blum, Leonor. "International NGOs and the Guatemalan Peace Accords." Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations. 12, no. 4 (2001): 327-353.

Perera, Victor, Unfinished Conquest: The Guatemalan Tragedy (1993).

Grandin, Greg. The Blood of Guatemala: A History of Race and Nation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000.

                                      W. George Lovell