Since this Tuesday, November 27th, indigenous and rural farmworker organizations were present in the Guatemalan Congress calling for the approval of Initiative 4048, a Comprehensive Rural Development Law. The Initiative, first introduced in Congress in February 2009, is the product of over twelve years of work by indigenous and campesino organizations. While hundreds of representatives from groups throughout the country spent four consecutive days at Congress, actions were also coordinated outside the capital to bring the country’s attention to the Comprehensive Rural Development Law as a matter of national urgency. Since the Congressional session has come to an end for this year, the Initiative will not be revisited until the new year.

Approval of the Comprehensive Rural Development Law is Urgently Needed
(Original in Spanish here)

Guatemala, despite being a country whose principal economic activity depends in large part on family farming, does not have legislation in place that addresses the historic needs of rural and campesino populations.

During the last 22 years, programs that give incentives to the agro-export model have been prioritized. This includes the relaxation of import tariffs on grains and food products and the promotion of agricultural technologies and fertilizers that have had a negative impact on the Guatemalan countryside.

Furthermore, the agrarian institutional structure was weakened substantially as a result of the implementation of structural adjustment economic policies that dismantled the agencies created to strengthen the Guatemalan agricultural sector.

Given the context of institutional abandonment of the countryside, rural farmworker organizations, over the course of 9 years, have discussed, analyzed, and come to agreement on a proposal for a Comprehensive Rural Development law, the same law that upon arriving in Congress was converted into Initiative 4084. In March 2012, as one achievement of the Indigenous Campesino March, Congress committed to approve the Initiative as a matter of national urgency.

The law, which is considered to be a priority for the economy of family farmers, provides conditions that promote diversification of crops, sustainable use of land, democratization of access to and possession of land, promotion of family farming, prioritization of production for the satisfaction of basic needs, strengthening and improvement of the mechanisms for access to land, search for food sovereignty, promotion of campesino markets, promotion of agro-ecology, and attainment of buen vivir (good living) as a philosophy and practice of our ancestral wisdom that takes on strategic traits in today’s world.

The principal benefits of the approval of the Initiative 4084 are:

  •  to have substantive standards that convert the topic of comprehensive rural development into a State policy, which guarantees continuity independent of changes in government;
  • the guarantee of the implementation of general guidelines for the Policy for Rural Development;
  • the establishment of a new agrarian institutional structure in Guatemala that promotes the implementation of policies, programs, and projects that contribute to the achievement of comprehensive rural development and reduction of inequality and poverty;
  • a timeless character of support to the projects that are implemented in favor of family farming and policies that give incentive to production: credit, land, education, health, and work;
  • to establish the practice of food sovereignty and the right to food;
  • the approval of the law of comprehensive rural development will represent the first step toward the definition of public policy around rural, agricultural and agrarian development, as an important part in the true fight against poverty and hunger in Guatemala.

For the above reasons
We request of the Honorable Congress of the Republic




Guatemala, November 27, 2012
Coordination of NGOs and Cooperatives (CONGCOOP)
Institute of Rural and Agrarian Studies
Sa Qa Chol Nimla K’aleb’aal (SANK)
Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA)

NISGUA has provided international human rights accompaniment through the ACOGUATE project to the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA). We are proud to continue our partnership with the CCDA in bringing their fair trade coffee from Guatemala to the US. Buy their coffee online to support NISGUA and the CCDA!