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Episode 25-Sotz’il and Ascodimaya-The Violent Repression of Mayan Indigenous Culture-In English and Spanish

Listen to this show here.

In English and Spanish:

This episode was going to be an interview with  Leonardo Lisondro Guarcia Guarcax Gonzales, instead it turns out to be a dedication to Leonardo who was kidnapped and murdered a week ago. Leonardo founded the Mayan Cultural Theatre Group, ‘Sotz’il‘, based in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Carlita talks about Leonardo  and how he made an impact on the Mayan people by reconnecting them with their ancient heritage and making them proud of their culture and ancient Mayan spiritual practices.

Gonzales was abducted last Wednesday, the 25th of August, 2010, his body was found later on friday. His murder has deeply outraged the Mayan people of Guatemala, it is believed that he was assasinated because his work was devoted to empowering the indigenous Mayan people through reconnecting them with their ancient heritage with workshops, short films and theatre performances, Leonardo taught ancient Mayan philosophy and revived shamanic ceremonies in performance art. He was an amazing leader and preserver of the Mayan culture.

Sotz’il Maya is an organization model based on community participation basis for generating alternative proposals and technical and political nature in the economic, social and culture, with the aim of overcoming the problems facing the people affected and Maya in particular, indigenous peoples and Guatemalan society in general as well as contribute to the process of construction of pluralistic and self-sustainable development in Guatemala.

Sotz’il means in Kaqchikel language ‘bat’, the bat is the symbol of the People Kaqchikel as protector and nahual of kaqchikeles SOTZ’IL called.

According to the Memorial of Solola, Annals of the Kaqchikel, after creating the world and man, the ancestors of the Pueblo Kaqchikel came from the west to the city of Tulan, this city is the birthplace of all the peoples of Mayan origin , as have the ancient manuscripts, such as Popal Vuh, Title of the Lords of Totonicapán and the said Memorial.

The ancestors of the Kakchiquel people, to reach Tulán, found a bat to keep his doors, and in this place were given a red staff, hence the name of Kaqchikeles (those of the staff or stick red) and after delivering a tribute commanded them to populate the territories they inhabit today.

Leonardo Lisondro Guarcia Guarcax Gonzales will be missed by the mayan people, but his contribution to reviving and peserving the Mayan ceremonies and culture will stay alive. click here to see a short film called ‘Xel Kej-Cortometraje‘  featuring Leonardo Gonzales.

In this episode you can listen to a discussion between Alejandro Batz, Bonnie Dilger, Carlita and Eric Montross recorded in Santiago, Atitlan, Guatemala. Carlita introduces Alajendro Batz, an indigenous Mayan who founded ASCODIMAYA, based in Patzun, Guatemala. Alejandro Batz is introduced to Bonnie Dilger (who was interviewed in Episode 24), to discuss the passing of Leonardo, what this means and what can be done to improve the situation of Mayan People who are campaigning for self empowerment and preservation of their ancient heritage. Alejendro Batz has dedicated 40 years of his life to improving the social and living conditions of rural Mayan families, in addition to educating them on their human and land rights. Please go to http://www.evolvetoecology.org/ascodimaya.asp to read more about the work of ASCODIMAYA for the indigenous Mayan People of the Guatemalan Highlands or contact Alejendro Batz

No political party in power has really been representative of the whole of the indigenous Mayan population.  Guatemalan People are divided due to traditional and religous political interests and powerful economic groups. Another example is that women practically are not permitted or encourageded to participate in the political life: out of the 15 Mayan deputies, only one woman was able to occupy a seat in Congress, and out of the 118 Mayan mayors, there is just one woman. On top of this, these deputies and Mayors barely have any power of decision, since each political party they represent holds a partisan political doctrine, which is out of touch with the reality of the country. Also, the successive governments have perpetuated (without any exceptions) their discriminatory politics against the Indigenous Peoples. The work of Alejendro Batz has been to educate  rural Mayan people on their political rights as well as land rights and human rights.

Capacity-building classes on the following themes have been taught by Ascodimaya:

  • Human Rights
  • Analysis of the Peace Agreement, especially of the Agreements on Identity and Rights of the Indigenous Peoples
  • The Agreement on the Agrarian Situation and Socioeconomic Aspects
  • The role of the military in a democratic society
  • The Agreement on the Establishment of a Commission for the Historical Clarification of the Human Rights Violations and the Violent Acts that have caused the population’s suffering (in relation with the compensation for the victims of war and the genocide, racism and discrimination that our country endured during war)
  • Study of national laws and international treaties: Labor Code, Municipal Code, Law of Urban and Rural Development Councils, General Law of Centralization, Political Constitution of the Republic, Civil Code, International Treaties and Agreements ratified by the State (mostly Agreement 169 of the International Labor Organization – ILO)…

Apart from the study of these subjects, the association has given courses on medicinal plants, circumstantial analysis, analysis and interpretation of the Mayan Calendar, communal cohabitation, Mayan ceremonies in different sacred places, walks in commemoration of the International Women’s Day and the International Workers’ Day (May Day), mass meetings and peace Vigils.

For all these reasons, ASCODIMAYA has identified the need to encourage organised work, political education and social work among inhabitants of the communities of Patzún, Sololá and K’iche, contact Alejandro Batz via email or phone to volunteer with one of his projects or to make a donation directly to ASCODIMAYA, Guatemala.

La Asociación de Coordinación de Desarrollo Integral Maya

4 Calle 3 –75 Zona 5 Colonia Noruega
Patzún, Chimaltenango, Guatemala. C.A.
Celular (00502) 50-46-81-41

Email: ascodimaya@hotmail.com


Following this discussion is a short Book Presentation on Plant Medicine, “Natural Healing, A Journey To The Mayan World of Atitlan”  by Richard Morgan Syzbist, This book can be ordered directly from Richard as it is not currently available at Amazon. Go to http://www.atitlan.com/losencuentros.htm or http://www.adventurestudy.com/publications.htm and write an email to Richard to order a copy of his latest book.



Background music : Shiva Rea

Interval: Sotz’il Theatre Group, Guatemala

Tango Argentina, Volver- by Victor Viladangos


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Contact Carlita at: Lastvoicesofgaia@gmail.com


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