|Community-Based Longitudinal Nutrition and Health Studies : Classical Examples from Guatemala, Haiti and Mexico (International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries - INFDC, 1995, 184 pages)|
|2. The Santa María Cauqué study: Health and survival of Mayan Indians under deprivation, Guatemala|
In the years of the Cauqué, study, we discussed how rapidly improvements should be implemented, or whether it was possible to effect them peaceably. Some decided for revolt, without success. Armed violence in Central America has done great harm. My view of the current situation, resulting from sporadic visits to Santa María Canqué since I left it in 1974, is of slow progress to correct negative determinants of health, while preserving most of the positive determinants. Village life today continues relatively unaltered from that of the 1960s. Virtually all deliveries today are in the homes, assisted by two younger midwives, one of them the daughter of Doña Juana, the senior midwife of the Cauqué, study.
Strong family bonds persist, as in the 1960s, and most families are organized around the family head, usually the father or an elder. There is no evidence of emerging physical or sexual abuse of children or spouses. Vagrancy, drug abuse (including alcohol), street violence, petty theft, and other social pathologies are not evident. In fact, villagers behave now almost as they did during the Cauqué, study. Although many new houses now have locks, agricultural plots remain fenceless.
The attitude of the Mayan villagers-stoic, sturdy, hard-working, honest, and smiling-still prevails, as well as their ability to cope with adversity, to survive while enjoying the extended family, friendships, and solidarity. The Mayans are gradually participating in the global transformation that will result in better health for all. My hope is that their unique traditional and societal values will be preserved during that transition.