Promotion of Mayan Culture as an Opportunity for Economic Growth in Solola

Mayan dancers .

Mayan dancers .

Between September 2012 and May 2013 a group of Guatemalan artists with the support of Canada, Sweden and Spain organized an itinerant festival called Q’ij Sac (importance of time), which tries to recreate indigenous traditions and attracts attention on topics like reflection and dialogue between generations, ethnic communities, men and women, spiritual leaders, community leaders and authorities.  The participants, among them the  Sotz’il  and Tz’utujil hip hop groups organized 17 performances, all of them free, in 16 municipalities of the department of Solola, finishing with a show in front of the National Palace, with the presence of the authorities of the Ministry of Culture, the Guatemalan Tourism Institute, the Congress of the Republic and diplomatic representatives.

Since 2009, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has supported sustainable economic growth in the Department of Solola through the Rural Economic Development Project in the Department of Solola (PROSOL).  The Department of Solola, like Guatemala in general, is full of contrasts. It has one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, exuberant landscapes, an enormous natural and cultural diversity, in addition to handicrafts, vegetables and coffee of recognized quality.  Nevertheless, as shown in  the map of poverty recently published by the National Institute of Statistics and the World Bank, Solola is the second poorest department in the country, with 84.5% poverty and 14.6% extreme poverty rates.

The PROSOL project has a cost of CAN$10.6 Million and is currently being executed by two Canadian organizations, CECI and SOCODEVI.  The population of Solola receives  assistance to improve their productivity and to enter new markets. Furthermore, they are working with local authorities to improve their planning and strategic investment in favour of economic development.

The change of a Mayan era in December 2012 represented a unique opportunity to attract the world’s attention on the Mayan culture, to reaffirm and revalue the identity of the descendants of the Mayas who inhabit Guatemala nowadays, but also as a form of promoting the economic growth of these communities. The itinerant festival Q’ij Sac (importance of time) precisely intends to take advantage of this to show indigenous traditions through dance, music, and theater performances that invite to reflection and dialogue between generations. 

Canada, through PROSOL, in a joint effort with the governments of Sweden and Spain, contributed Q450,000 to support the effort of this group of artists. This contributes to the promotion of knowledge and revalorization of the culture of the original inhabitants of Guatemala, while helping construct their communities, and building peace and harmony, which will bring new economic opportunities.