I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala Historical Context

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When Guatemala's economy changed from an agrarian economy to an trade economy based on coffee in the late 1800s, the government needed more and more land on which to grow this lucrative cash crop. To satisfy its need for land, the government employed a strategy known as "land grabs," whereby arable land was forcibly taken from Indian villages and used to grow coffee and other cash crops. Because coffee was labor intensive to process, the government began to pressure Indian communities to work on plantations, as Pratt explains, by "passing a 'vagrancy law' requiring all landless peasants to work for at least 150 days per year for either the fincas or the state." This law, in conjunction with the military's takeover of Indian land (thereby rendering Indians "landless" in the eyes of the law), is the reason why Menchú's family and so...

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This section contains 526 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala Study Guide
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I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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