Last modified: 2021-06-12 by rob raeside
Keywords: el chal | peten |
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The municipality of El Chal (13,819 inhabitants in 2018, 2,640 in the town of
El Chal; 95,763 ha) is located 430 km of Guatemala City and 50 km south-east of
El Chal is named for a Maya Itzá word meaning "clearwater place".
Until 1938, El Chal was a clearing in the palm forest used as a safe resting place for travelers heading to Flores. In July 1938, the place was settled by Ernesto Montejo, a Mexican farmer living in Santo Toribio, and his wife Felicita Cuoch. Two years later, they left El Chal, which remained uninhabited until 1948, when settled by Sebastián Cuz, his wife Gertrudis Pop and their tow sons Sebastián and Andrés. They had two employees, Gregorio Torres, from Honduras, and Rodrigo Hernández, from Gualán; El Chal was therefore inhabited by three families.
In 1955, the opening of a small road allowed another 20 families to settle at El Chal. A first mass was celebrated in March 1962 by a missionary. Much more colonists came in 1965 from all parts of the country.
The formal organization of the community, initiated in 1967 on a 3 km2 x 2 km2 area, was stopped by the emergence of armed groups. In 1968, the First Lady, wife of President Méndez, visited the village and offered a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was carried in a procession from El Quetzal to the El Chal chapel.
A military commission was established in the village in 1969, subsequently transformed into a permanent; accused to support the guerillas, the villagers were submitted to strong repression, which caused several families to move to other, safer places.
The organization of an urbanization committee in 1979 caused the wrath of some farmers who refused to offer plots to build houses; violence culminated with the murder of Mauricio Xol, president of the committee. The urbanization project was inaugurated on 7 July 1981 by President of the Republic Romeo Lucas García.
The administrative status of El Chal was upgraded from caserio (hamlet) to aldea (village) by Government Agreement No. 524 issued on 25 October 2000. The municipality of El Chal was established by Decree-Law No. 5 issued on 4 February 2014, separating from Dolores, and inaugurated on 29 April 2014.
Historia de El Chal, Municipal website
The flag of EL Chal is horizontally divided celestial blue-white-green, charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms.
Ivan Sache, 15 May 2021
image by Fred Drews, 23 September 2018