The privatization of social suffering in a Guatemalan finca

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Date

2012-08

Authors

Osorio, Jessica Rosalyn

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Abstract

Local actors in the coastal side of Chimaltenango, Guatemala regularly characterize fincas (plantations) as “private property” to explain that they function as independent social spaces, with its inner-functions considered matters between owners and workers, not of concern to society. I argue that locally employed explanations of fincas as private areas support a common sense finca ideology that has placed the basic human and social needs of workers and their families at the discretion of landowners who stand to benefit directly from their marginalization. My major finding is that a finca ideology has privatized the social suffering of resident families who are forced to respond as individuals to constant pressures to their survival. Their agency to respond and possibilities for actions rooted in social solidarity have been restricted within the finca. I conclude that this ideology needs to be delegitimized so that the social and human needs of families are not dependent on the decision of landowners and so that they are empowered take action as individuals and as part of a community to redress the conditions that cause their suffering.

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