In the past few weeks since leaving San Juan, among all of the intense, memorable experiences and fortunate opportunities we have had, Cooperativa Nuevo Horizonte near Santa Ana, Petén stands out. After the Guatemalan Civil War, ex-guerrilleros independently established what is now a 50%-self-sufficient communal space with communal land and nearly 100 families of founding members.
The sheer existence alone of such a community despite such direct obstacles says a lot about the spirit of the resistance movement. It is also worth mentioning the obstacles that still remain. President of the cooperative and ex-guerrillero, Miguel Ángel, had never seen the Yaxhá national park and heritage site only an hour away from Nuevo Horizonte until foreigners offered him the opportunity. The amount of work he has to do in order to maintain the cooperative greatly restricts his ability to see such things.
This cooperative, which also hosts foreign volunteers mostly from European countries, restores my faith that humanity will recover from the seemingly irreversible damage we inflict upon ourselves and the world we inhabit. The system is designed so that we do not see beyond the popularly constructed horizons of possibility—“single stories” about groups chronically discriminated against, the futility of caring for politics or the environment, the oft-repeated rhetoric that the common people are to blame for said environmental damage. We, as people with remarkable access to the world’s political and economical power, have the responsibility to critically assess the global perceptions we have been raised into; we need to be the ones to push back our horizons.