Chicleros’ exchange in Guatemala

The Association of Forest Communities of Petén (ACOFOP) and the Selva Maya Program of the German Cooperation (GIZ); supported an exchange of experiences between expert chicleros, young chicleros and newcomer chicleros from December 17-19. Carmelita Cooperative, in Petén, Guatemala hosted the meeting. The participants were chicleros from the Organization for the Management and Conservation of Uaxactún (OMYC), the Integral Forestry Association of Cruce La Colorada (AFICC) and the Carmelita Cooperative itself.

The exchange started with a historical review of chicle (chewing gum) activity and its importance. On the other hand, there was a discussion on the Chicle Law in Guatemala, its implications and the initiative to repeal it. Finally, the political incidence reached within the current context of the chicle activity in the Selva Maya region was commented.

The practical part included activities such as preparing tools (sharpening machetes, rubberize bags, putting belts on spurs). Cutting and climbing practices were carried out in the forest, showing minimum safety measures. Latex was also collected and cooked.  This meeting allowed older chicleros (50-70 years old) shared their experience with the young ones (35-40 years old) and beginners (19-22 years old).  It was also an opportunity to disseminate graphic materials on CONAP’s regulations, FSC forest certification and organic certification. In Guatemala there is great potential for exploiting chewing gum, a sustainable activity that benefits the forest and its people.