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Arts and Humanities | History | Latin American History | Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature


Mari Felix Cubas


The 1994 "Agreement on Resettlement of the Population Groups Uprooted by the Armed Conflict" set in motion an initiative to repatriate the estimated 70,000 Guatemalan refugees in Mexico on tracts of land bought by the government and sold to communities of returnees. However, five years after their relocation, the resettlement of Nuevo México has stalled, being stymied by questions of the land sale and on whom do certain responsibilities for the implementation of the accords fall.

As I will argue, the reason behind this failure to competently implement the goals set forth in the accord and effectively carry out the resettlement process is a result of a lack of cognitive respect and cognitive participation on the part of the government of Guatemala. Considering this, the effectiveness of the resettlement would be advanced if the government would adopt a platform of cooperative compromise, in which both parties take an active, equal role in addressing each other's needs. For this to happen there must exist a conscious effort by both Nuevo México and the Guatemalan government to define their respective needs and, in conjunction, a committed effort to develop public policy that addresses both sets of needs in the long-term.

I reached this conclusion after field research done in Guatemala on two separate occasions, once in October of 1998 and again in July of 1999. On both incidences, I interviewed individuals from the community of Nuevo México and Guatemalan government officials involved in the issue of land ownership and resettlement of refugees. In addition to this, I consulted individuals from third-party organizations such as, but not exclusive to, the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA).