Information on the Cakchiquel native group and their treatment by the armed forces [GTM22756.E]

Information on the Cakchiquel linguistic group can be found in the attached documents. These attachments show the general distribution of Cakchiquel groups in Guatemala and briefly describe their society.

An excerpt from the New Encyclopaedia Britannica provides the following information:

Cakchiquel, Mayan Indian people of the mid-western highlands of Guatemala, closely related linguistically and culturally to the neighbouring Quiché and Tzutujil. They are agricultural, and their culture and religion are fusions of Spanish and Mayan elements. The sharing of a common language does not provide a basis for ethnic identification among the Cakchiquels; the Indians themselves, like other Mayan peoples of the region, are organized into municipios (communities, or counties), and the people identify themselves with their own municipio. Each community usually speaks its own dialect of Cakchiquel, which is mutually intelligible with other dialects of Cakchiquel and is partly intelligible with Quiché and Tzutujil. Each community also has its own political and religious hierarchy, local costume, patron saints, and economic specialty. Often, marriage outside the municipio is considered improper (1989 Vol. 2, 728).

One section of the New Encyclopaedia Britannica refers to the Cakchiquel calendar (1989 Vol. 20, 652-53), while another discusses the Quiché people, language and region (ibid. Vol. 9, 857). Another attachment mentions the political, religious and educational development of indigenous people in Guatemala, including the Cakchiquel, since the 1970s (Harvest of Violence 1988, 177-79). The latter states, in its only specific reference to the Cakchiquel, that

as a result of these developments, by 1976 more and more young Indian men and women were making the jump from the thatched hut to the university. Cakchiquel Indians from Tecpán were employed as high school principals and as accountants with IBM... (ibid., 177).

Numerous sources report various abuses carried out by the armed forces against members of indigenous communities over the years. Given the extent of the available literature on human rights in Guatemala, only information pertaining to 1995 was researched for this Response. Although the sources consulted describeas "indigenous" or "indian" many of the victims of abuses attributed to members or units of the armed forces, no specific references to members of the Cakchiquel linguistic group could be found. The Human Rights Watch World Report 1996, describing the victims of abuses (not necessarily perpetrated by members of the armed forces), states that "the victims included students and teachers, trade unionists, human rights workers, peasant activists, individuals resisting participation in army-organized civil patrols, and common criminals" (1996, 94). This and the other sources consulted (see list below) do not refer to the Cakchiquel linguistic group as a whole being targeted for a particular treatment by the armed forces in 1995.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below a list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Harvest of Violence: The Maya Indians and the Guatemalan Crisis. 1988. Edited by Robert M. Carmack. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Human Rights Watch (HRW). 1996. Human Rights Watch World Report 1996. New York: Human Rights Watch.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1989. 15th ed. Vols. 2, 9, 20. Edited by Philip W. Goetz. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica.


Barry, Tom. 1992. Inside Guatemala. Albuquerque, New Mex.: The Inter-Hemispheric Education Resource Center, pp. 220-31.

Cultural Survival Quarterly [Boston]. Vol. 13, No. 3, 1989. Will V. Davidson and Melanie A. Counce. "Mapping the Distribution of Indians in Central America," pp. 38-39.

Harvest of Violence: The Maya Indians and the Guatemalan Crisis. 1988. Edited by Robert M. Carmack. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, pp. 177-79.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1989. 15th ed. Edited by Philip W. Goetz. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 2, p. 728; Vol. 9, p. 857; Vol. 20, pp. 652-53.

Wearne, Phillip and Peter Calvert. December 1989. The Maya of Guatemala. London: Minority Rights Group, pp. 7-25, 27-29.

Additional Sources Consulted

Amnesty International Report. Yearly.

Central America NewsPak [Austin, Tex.]. Fortnightly.

Central America Report [Guatemala]. Weekly.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Yearly. U.S. Department of State. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Critique: Review of the Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Yearly. New York: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.

Guatemala Human Rights Bulletin [Washington, DC]. Quarterly.

Guatemala Human Rights Update [Washington, DC]. Weekly.

News from Human Rights Watch/Americas [New York]. Monthly.

Latinamerica Press [Lima]. Weekly.

Latin American Weekly Report [London]. Weekly.

Latin American Regional Reports: Central America & the Caribbean [London]. Monthly.

Material from the Indexed Media Review (IMR) or country files containing articles and reports from diverse sources (primarily dailies and periodicals) from the Weekly Media Review.

Newspapers and periodicals pertaining to the appropriate region.

Comisión para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Centro América (CODEHUCA), San José.

Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA, Washington, DC.

IRB, USINS and UNHCR databases.

On-line searches of news articles.

Note on oral sources:

Oral sources are usually contacted when documentary sources have been exhausted. However, oral sources must agree to be quoted in a publicly available Response to Information Request. If they refuse, the Response will read "no information currently available." Contacting oral sources is also subject to time constraints; for example, there are periods of the year when academics are unavailable.


This list is not exhaustive. Country-specific books available in the Resource Centre are not included.