Conflicts over land erupted when worldwide prices for coffee plummeted in 2000. Many Guatemalan coffee plantations shut down and forced workers from their homes on the land — leading to violent confrontations between landlords and laid-off workers.
The highest number of these confrontations occurred in Alta Verapaz. That's where Mercy Corps has been working since 2003 with its local partner, the Association of Lawyers for Legal Development, to peacefully resolve conflicts over land through negotiated consensus.
We've established more than 10 mediation centers in the provinces, staffed with trained community volunteer paralegals, and a central mediation center with legal and surveying services in the departmental capital of Cobán.
As a result, approximately 270 cases have been peacefully negotiated in the first two years, with 142 of those fully resolved. Nuevo Amanacer — the village featured in part one of this two-part video — was one of the first.
After you've finished watching, click here for Part 2: Tilling the Soil.