The history of La Florida began 28 years into a brutal, civil war which lasted 36 years, claimed over 200,000 lives and displaced over 1 million Guatemalans. It was in 1884 that a group of campesinos formed SCIDECO (Sociedad Civil para el Desarrollo de Colomba - Civil Society for the Development of Colomba), a labor union designed to combat the violation of rights and to improve the lives of campesinos.
After over two decades of organizing, members of SCIDECO learned of La Florida, a large finca with over 47 acres that was abandoned by its owner in 1994. According to Lorenzo Acjá, "the results of the negotiations [for land redistribution] were very poor during the eighties and nineties and therefore we knew that we had to use more drastic means to put pressure on the government."
For two more years, the occupying families remained, living in fear due to constant threats of violence. They remained because the life they were building together was a drastic improvement to the harsh political and economic climate just a few kilometers away.
During the occupation, with logistical help from a host of organizations, lawyers, and financial advisers, the community was negotiating to purchase the land. Despite various obstacles ranging from a price tag of 12 million quetzals ($1.57 million), a presidential election, a new administration, and the daily struggle for survival the community prevailed. On April 29, 2004 the community purchased La Florida with a governmental loan of 6.5 million quetzals ($843,000 USD) - just over half the price originally offered.
Through their victory and their continuous hard work, the community members of La Florida are helping to create a new model for campesino communities and a new model for the future of Guatemala.