The 48 Cantons: Indigenous Communal Forest and Autonomous Organization in Totonicapan, Guatemala

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The following documentary, The 48 Cantones from Thomas Moll-Rocek, presents the indigenous autonomous movement based on communal land ownership which has successfully resisted capitalist and colonial encroachment for 500 years in Totonicapan, Guatemala.

In Totonicapan, a mountainous province of Guatemala, the indigenous Maya K’iche community of over 100,000 people has maintained, depended on, and defended a huge communal forest for the past 500 years. They depend on it for water, firewood and other materials such as lumber for furniture making. They have organized an autonomous governing system based on rotating periods of unpaid service (Kax’kol). This dual power system is referred to as the 48 Cantons. It is not legally recognized but is by far more legitimate and present in the daily lives of the inhabitants than the Guatemalan government.

The 27 minute documentary explores this inspiring example of an indigenous autonomous movement based on communal land ownership that has successfully resisted capitalist and colonial encroachment for 500 years.


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