Todos Santos Cuchumatán is a small village located on the western highland of Guatemala on the Cuchumatanes Mountains, at an altitude of 2500m, near to the Mexican border. The native population is of Mayan Mam, which is one of the 21 officially recognised ethnic groups in the Country. Thanks to a low level of mestizaje the entire population still speak their original Mayan language and it’s one of the few places in Guatemala where even the men still wear the traditional clothes.
Currently approximately a third of the population, majority men, has immigrated to the USA, most of them without immigrations papers. The emigration has strongly influences their habits. The Todosanteros that had some relation with el norte try to talk to the foreign in English, they wear cowboy hat instead of the traditional one, they have modified the design of the traditional outfit as well of showing their admiration by reproducing the USA icons on any possible space (flags, eagles etc. on the tombstones, houses, cars and clothes). The most important celebration is the town fair, which is celebrated every year on the 1st of November, the day of “Todos los Santos”(All Saints Day) it’s the evidence of the mix between the Pre-Colombian cultural legacy and the colonial imposition.
The main event of this fair is a horse race, which takes place during all the day on a segment of 400m track, back and forward. The race doesn’t have winners or losers and symbolized the resistance and the individual challenge. It’s been many years that people who can afford these expenses are receiving remittances. The 2nd on November to celebrate the Day of the Dead the families visit the cemetery and like an extension of the party they bring music, food, drinks and offering to their dead on top of the tombstone decorated with USA’s symbols. The importance of the remittances goes beyond the mere survival, keeps alive the tradition and strengthens, day after day, the adoration for el norte.