Trouble In The Highlands

Trouble In The Highlands will explore the tumultuous history of Guatemala's indigenous communities and why the Maya remain desperately poor, exploited, and outside the corridors of political power. The lack of indigenous representation in government affects all aspects of life: the quality of schools, the availability of healthcare in rural areas, and respect for indigenous culture and traditions. Trouble In The Highlands will review Guatemala's turbulent history and addresses the current migrant crisis at the U.S./Mexico border. Through the eyes of Maya academics, activists and political leaders, the documentary will explore reasons why so many are leaving and what is being done to reverse the economic and social stagnation.

In contrast to the challenges the Guatemala Maya face in achieving political representation, recent political change in Bolivia offers an example of how that country's indigenous leaders achieved political success over a twenty-year period. There is no questioning the success of Evo Morales' political party, MAS, which elected the first indigenous president in Bolivian history as well as scores of indigenous representatives. But Bolivia also offers a cautionary tale for Guatemala's political activists. Morales suffered numerous political setbacks during his years in power; but despite those failures, the standard of living for a great many of Bolivia’s indigenous communities has risen dramatically.

Trouble In The Highlands will be narrated by and understood through the eyes and perspective of indigenous leaders in Guatemala and Bolivia and conclude in Guatemala's Maya Highlands with examples of local and country-wide reform initiatives.

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The Team
Executive Producer - Maria Emilia Martin is an award-winning independent journalist and director of the GraciasVida Center for Media.Read More
Director / Cinematographer - Hal Rifken has worked for numerous cable and broadcast networks domestically and abroad.Read More
Producer - Mark was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala. With an MA in Latin American Studies.Read More
Consultant - Avexnim is a sociologist with experience in Canada, Guatemala and internationally and serves as a Programs Director for Cultural Survival.Read More
Consultant - Demetrio is a former Guatemala Deputy Minister of Education and has worked as a university professor and social researcher.Read More
Consultant - Leonardo Villafuerte trained as a lawyer and worked for more than 12 years with public.Read More
Consultant - Alana’s latest feature documentary production is the institutional history of the Peace Corps.Read More
Consultant - George C. Vena earned a BA degree in Political Science and Spanish from Marquette University.Read More
Our Partners
Arts Wisconsin
Revue Magazine
Million Mile Walker
Rotary International
Crossing Borders, Building Bridges: A Journalist’s Heart in Guatemala
“Crossing Borders, Building Bridges: A Journalist's Heart in Guatemala”, by Mark D. Walker, Revuew Magazing, July 2021
A Documentary Film Production, Guatemala: Trouble In The Highlands
"A Documentary Film Production, Guatemala: Trouble In The Highlands", Revue Magazine, February 2020
Hugs not Walls: Reuniting the Children
“Hugs not Walls: Reuniting the Children”, by Mark D. Walker, Arizona Literary Magazine 2020, November 2019, Reissued in Revue Magazine, December 2019
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