A Partnership for Peace and Prosperity
Dr. Enrique Chapetón
El Remate, EL Petén, Guatemala
- Ix-canaan: Mayan word meaning “Guardians of the Rainforest”.
- This project was written in 1995, modified , edited, presented to the Government of New Brunswick, Canada in August 1997, and unofficially accepted, pending its presentation through the Government of Guatemala and the Canadian Embassy.
New Brunswick, Canada
Is invited …
to join in partnership with
El Petén, Guatemala
Expertise and experience
Opportunity and vision
To the mutual benefit of both.
El Petén is the largest and northernmost province of the tiny Central American country of Guatemala. It is home to the world’s third largest rainforest as well as the location of thousands of Mayan archeological sites, including the grandest of the ceremonial cities – Tikal.
Of Guatemala’s total population of more than 12 million people, less than one million reside in this region which comprises approximately one-third of the total land mass of the country. The people are primarily illiterate campesinos (farmers) whose livelihoods depend upon the destructive practice of slash-and-burn agriculture to grow their subsistence crop – corn.
Recently, worldwide attention has been focused on the province of El Petén because of its ecological and archeological importance, its petroleum reserves, and its growing reputation as a destination spot for international tourism. In January of 1997, a peace treaty was signed, ending a 38-year civil war, thus clearing the way for economic development and tourism.
El Petén is largely undeveloped and unprepared for the challenges it now faces. Very little is grown or manufactured in the region. The transportation system is obsolete. Services (health, water, power, communications) are either non-existent or inadequate and obsolete. The people are poor, uneducated, in ill-health, and war-weary. The rainforests and archeological sites are being destroyed at an alarming rate.
What can be done?
The First Challenge:
Partner El Petén with a province of a developed country that can offer guidance and expertise in the development of:
- El Petén’s telephone system is antiquated and insufficient. Many of the villages outside the capitol of Santa Elena / Flores have no phone. Those which do have only one satellite phone link which is frequently inoperable.
- Dirt roads throughout most of El Petén become muddy, impassable, and full of potholes during months of rainy season.
- Public transportation consists of privately owned and operated bus lines. The buses are rejected American vehicles which follow no safety or emission standards.
- One international air terminal is located in Santa Elena / Flores.
- A few small landing strips are located near remote archeological sites due to lack of road access.
- There are few private vehicles with local transportation consisting of foot traffic, bicycles, and horse.
3. Health Services:
- The public hospital in Santa Elena has no equipment or supplies and is unable to meet the basic needs of the people in the region.
- Health centers in many villages stand vacant and abandoned. Those still in use are staffed by a nurses’ aid with no medical supplies and little formal training.
- The few physicians are located in the large centers.
- There is no effective mechanism for the distribution of donated equipment and supplies, subsequently they seldom reach those for whom they are intended.
4. Forestry Management:
- Lack of understanding has led to the destruction of the jungles at an alarming rate through slash-and-burn agriculture that denudes the soil of nutrients, preventing further use.
- There has been little or no enforcement of national and international laws to prevent the cutting of trees, even in the protected areas of the Biosphere Maya.
- There is no true reforestation in El Petén. Present projects claiming to be reforestation consist of planting pine trees which, because they are not native, acidify the soil and prevent local species from growing. They are cut in 3 – 5 years for profit.
- Large numbers of the armed forces have been transferred to Forestry Management with little training and no clear understanding of their role and mandate.
- There are few schools and insufficient supplies. Many children receive only 3 years of schooling due to distance or the need to help support the family.
- Most adults are illiterate.
- Develop recently discovered petroleum resources in a way that complements the goal of conservation, preservation and self-sustainability.
- Tourism is El Petén’s greatest asset for the future.
The Second Challenge:
Declare El Petén a Living Library , understood and operated like a museum and with the goal of preservation, conservation, and self-sustainability.
- Intensive education to the people of El Petén to prepare them to become The Guardians of the Rainforest (the curators of the museum) through training in telecommunications, transportation, health services, forestry management, education and tourism.
- The development of ecologically-sound research centers / pavilions to be built, operated and maintained be multi-national corporations or foreign governments – focusing research and education on (1) the value inherent in the seeds* of the trees – medicinal, alimentary and industrial (2) rainforest reforestation and (3) sustainable agriculture or jungleculture (4) other rainforest based research.
* seeds – the emphasis on the use of the seeds of the trees is particularly important because it does not necessitate damaging the tree in any way. The seeds (as well as the fruits and nuts) are “given” by the tree and their harvest does not require clearing, burning, planting or tending.
- A high speed ecological (aerial) transit system to transport tourists and inter-community travelers between the capitol city of Flores and border crossings, major sites, and village attractions.
- Ecological transportation within village environs, i. e., horse drawn carts, bicycles, rickshaws.
5. Re-develop and Maintain:
- The ancient network of trails (hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking) throughout the jungles linking Mayan sites, villages and ecological accommodations.
- Institutes for researching, teaching and dramatizing the indigenous Mayan Arts and Sciences (dance, music, folklore, astrology).
7. Organize and Promote:
- A tourism campaign to bring the attention of the world to El Petén, the first Living Library, and to showcase its diverse attractions.
PROJECT IX-CANAAN outlines goals for social and economic development for the people of El Petén, leading to self-sufficiency based on:
- Junglecology (use of the natural resources of the jungle) to create the consciousness that the more abundant the forests, the more abundant the resources for use and marketing.
- The Collection, Preservation and Dissemination of the history and wisdom of the Mayan culture for the benefit of humankind.
The key to accomplishing these goals lies in educating the people, thus supporting them to play an active role in creating their own future. Encouraging self-sufficiency will lead to a renewed hope for their own future, as well as a new trust in fellow Guatemalans and foreigners alike, forming a solid foundation on which to build the future of this globally-significant region.
Drawing on the strengths of the people of New Brunswick …
- Innovation and Leadership
- Educational, Professional and Technical Expertise
- Environmental Sensitivity
- Leadership in Infrastructure Development
- A Global Vision
… a partnership with the people of El Petén, Guatemala would create an opportunity to work together to create a future of hope and promise and open a window on an ancient world.
Projects Currently In Progress or Under Development
A Pilot Program in El Remate, Petén
02. Research Center
03. Women’s Center
04. Center of Information
05. Crocodile Park – Aquatic Sports Center
06. Center for the Preservation and Dissemination of Mayan History and Culture
07. Center for the Research and Development of Permaculture
08. Environmental Clean-up
09. Foreign Training Program
10. Marketing Strategies – El Remate
Free Consultation and Treatment
- for all people with an emphasis on health education, nutrition and natural healing methods, particularly essential oils extracted from the seeds of local trees.
- with schools in programs dealing with health and wellness
- with national and international organizations dealing with the field of health
- with national and international volunteers
- for those who wish to work in the health care field (midwifery, lab techniques, alternative health, social work)
- The clinic has been in operation since August 1, 1995 in the village of El Remate, under the direction and coordination of Anna Lossing & Enrique Chapetón.
2. Research Center*
To support scientifically the ancient and modern knowledge of natural medicine, in order to open markets for jungle products, thus making the people of this area more self-sufficient and supporting rainforest reforestation.
Research and Development
- Natural Medicine
- Traditional Medicine
- Essential Oils
- Ramon flour
- Scholar Cookie: Report to the government not only the nutritional resources of ramon flour, but show that the ecological, social and economic benefits to the country are significant and that inclusion of ramon flour to the scholar cookie country-wide would be of great benefit.
- Education in nutrition
- Cosmetics and Soaps
- Other uses
- Medical doctors interested in research in this field
- International volunteers
- National and International Organizations related with these fields
- Producers of natural medicine
* A parcel of land of approximately 100 meters by 30 meters has already been made available for this center, which will include not only the research facility itself, but also a hospital for treatment of patients using natural resources to obtain scientific data, as well as an area for housing of national and international volunteers.
3. Women’s Center*
A place where women can gather, learn, work or play together with the goal of achieving self-sufficiency both individually and collectively.
- Large thatch-roofed building for meetings or classes (i. e., literacy, parenting, nutrition, hygiene) with quarters upstairs to house visiting teachers.
Child Care Center:
- Large thatch-roofed building with quarters upstairs to house visiting teachers or child care workers.
- A building with adequate space for a small bank, volunteer professionals, and a computer with Internet access.
- To teach and promote the use of the flowers, fruits and seeds of the trees of the jungles for culinary use. For example, the seeds of the ramon tree are delicious and nutritious in tortillas, breads, cakes and beverages, or roasted like cashews.
- Equipped with ecological technologies for use, display and training. For example, a pila (cement sink) with grease traps, or stoves and ovens with low fuel (wood) consumption.
- To serve foods using the natural produce of the jungles, thus familiarizing visitors as well as the local people with the culinary uses for the flowers, fruits and seeds of trees, and the edible herbs and plants of the area.
Tree Nursery / Orchards:
- To grow a variety of trees that produce edible fruits or nuts for preparation to be sold through the dining facility or roasted, bottled or canned to be sold to visitors.
- For the sale of packaged food items, hand-made greeting cards, stone carvings, wood carvings and other local crafts and products.
- To use and to learn how to build and maintain.
* Land on the top of La Montaña de Pajaro Serpiente has been designated for a Women’s Center and has been cleared.
4. Center of Information*
Library / Book Exchange / Computer Training Center
A center with the mandate to bring information, communication, and education to the people of El Remate and surrounding villages.
- To be stocked with Spanish books of reference, information and fiction at all reading levels, thus providing not only a source of information for the children studying in the schools, but a source of entertaining literature for the men and women who are now participating in literacy programs.
- To offer “story-times” to families or groups of children or young adults with the purpose of encouraging and promoting literacy (i. e., reading) as a valuable and entertaining skill.
- To be stocked with primarily English language books for exchange at a small fee for tourism, thus providing another touristic service unique to the area, as well as a source of income to support the Center.
Computer Training Center / Internet Center:
- To teach basic computer skills to the youth of the village, thus preparing them to compete in a rapidly emerging computer based society
- To facilitate cultural exchange between the youth of El Remate and other nations through Internet communications
- To provide Internet Services to tourism, thus providing another ongoing income to support the Center
* One section of land with a small rancho is presently available for this development.
5. Crocodile Park – Aquatic Sports Center
A public use, lakeside development designed to ecologically maximize the social and financial benefits of El Remate’s lakeside location by providing areas of docks, sand beach, diving platforms, clubhouses, picnic areas, gardens and trails, bathroom facilities and commercial outlets. This facility will:
- PROVIDE instruction, guidance and support to young athletes of El Petén, with the goal of fostering teams to compete locally, nationally and internationally in water sports such as:
– swimming (triathlon, sprints, ballet)
– water polo
– wind surfing
– scuba diving
– canoe racing
– kayaking competitions
- HOST national and international classes, workshops, clinics and events in aquatic sports.
- GENERATE income for all touristic services in the village through the attraction of participants and spectators to events and water experiences.
- SUPPORT ongoing maintenance and development of the lakefront center through the rental of commercial facilities to food outlets, craft and gift sales, canoe, kayak or paddle boat rentals
6. Center for the Preservation and Dissemination of Mayan History and Culture*
- Displays created using artifacts supplied on a loan or rental basis by the people of El Petén on a “profit-sharing” plan
- With the primary goal of preserving and teaching the traditional music of Guatemala
- Classes in voice or instrument for Peteneros
- Introductory classes for visitors (i. e., marimba)
- Guest artists to perform national and international concerts
- Featuring “Artists of Petén” in all mediums
- Programs to encourage the development of artistic talent amongst youth (i. e., art classes, contests to design greeting / post cards to be marketed worldwide to support the children and the rainforests)
- Use of non-traditional and recycled materials
- Courses on Mayan Art available for visitors
Center for Performing Arts:
- Classes and performances of Folkloric Drama
- Mayan celestial events and ceremonies dramatized for visitors in the actual ruins of an ancient Mayan city
- Guest artists of other indigenous cultures and arts invited to perform
* The Ixlu archeological site could provide an authentic venue for productions of music or theatre, as well as a proper setting for the museum. Seminars, workshops and presentations to be promoted for an international audience.
7. Center for the Research and Development Of Permaculture*
- Into the most viable ways to re-grow an ecologically-sound rainforest
- To promote the value of living trees and the understanding of the importance of ecological balance.
- Presentations of international workshops and seminars on Permaculture
- A tree nursery to allow the people of El Petén to realize a real and immediate benefit from reforestation … all Peteneros can be encouraged to sprout seeds of any variety of trees in the jungle to be sold to the nursery … possibly a cooperative venture
The Memorial Forest:
- To celebrate Guatemala’s emergence from 38 years of civil war.
- To be seen as a new beginning where human beings can image living together like the trees of the forest, each one individual and bearing its own fruit and seed, yet all part of the harmonious whole that shelters, feeds and supports itself as an ecosystem.
- To be located on a large, de-forested tract of land, bordering on a river or lake, where people of Guatemala and the world are invited to place a living tribute by bringing and planting a tree.
- A place of peace and serenity, retreat and remembrance, pilgrimage and prayer.
- Administered, supported and maintained by an international society of volunteers.
- Products of the forest would be gathered to help feed the nations poor.
* PERMAnent AgriCULTURE: outlines a vision for re-building sustainable and ecologically benign settlements.
8. Environmental Clean-up
The Pila* Project
- A public demonstration project
- To reduce the distance women must travel to perform household cleaning
- To minimize detergents and bleach pollutants in the lake
- Trap of greases” built into each public pila for reclamation of fats to make soap
- To be developed as a women’s cooperative
- Soap to be sold to visitors to support the environment of Petén. Additives for anti-bacteria, scent and mild abrasives originate from the seeds of trees.
- Soap could be packaged inexpensively in corn leaves, or more expensively in hand-crafted wooden boxes
- Pila: A cement sink consisting of three wells. A deep central well is used for water storage. The two shallow wells on either side are used for washing clothes, dishes or babies. Public pilas do not currently exist in El Petén, but are being used experimentally in some Mexican villages.
Waste Disposal Project:
- For the management of human, household and industrial waste
- Develop awareness and alternatives for disposal management
- Promote and facilitate local recycling
- Encourage active involvement by the children (Clean Village Campaign, garbage can decoration and maintenance)
Lake Clean-up Project:
- To work toward halting the indiscriminate polluting of the lake water
- To research ways to renew the integrity of the lake
- To encourage environmentally sound ways of using the lake
Water Management Project:
- Develop a process for the retrieval, treatment, use and disposal of water for safe and healthy household use.
9. Foreign Training Programs
Active Foreign Aid
- The qualified youth of El Petén to live and study with hosts of other countries for varying periods of time with the intention of creating opportunities in their lives and new perspectives in their minds.
Training and Accommodation:
- To be provided at little or no cost by hosts in a foreign country
- Exchange visits encouraged
- Transportation companies (airlines, bus lines) could participate by providing fares at reduced or no cost
- Health care
- Computer technology
- Environmental management
- Tourism / Hospitality
- The Arts
- Small business development and Management
- Forestry management
10. Marketing Strategies – El Remate
1. Village Theme: El Cocodrilo
- Develop a marketing strategy whereby the village would promote itself as being “under the protection of the crocodile”.
- Promote crocodile information and conservation
- Create and Personalize a crocodile mascot
- Produce “gift items” with crocodile theme for sale to the tourism market (i. e., T-shirts, caps, wood or stone carvings)
2. Host a Monthly Market
- Choose one day (or weekend) of the month for which El Remate would become known as the best market in Petén.
- Invite sales of fresh foods, preserved foods, hand sewn items, crafts, furniture, household items, used clothes, etc.
- Invite speakers and demonstrations
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