“Becoming president of Guatemala requires resources that I don’t have”

Roman Gressier presents, in El Faro, an interview with Martín Toc, the President of the 48 Cantons of Totonicapán.


Few organizations can paralyze Guatemala without setting foot in the capital. The 48 Cantons of Totonicapán, a Maya K’iche’ Indigenous authority and one of the oldest governing structures in the country, is among them. After the 48 Cantons called for a national strike last July to demand the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei and Attorney General Consuelo Porras, a coalition of Indigenous authorities, rural development collectives, university student associations, and small opposition parties followed suit, rallying thousands of protestors across the Guatemalan map to shut down public plazas and highways in the biggest manifestations since the 2015 Guatemalan Spring.

Martín Toc, the 48 Cantons’ charismatic and ambitious young president, was at the epicenter of it all. At just 36, he rose to national prominence after offering a rousing speech to kick off the strike. An environmental project manager who traveled to Japan in 2011 for a rural development exchange with Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Toc is also finishing a degree in marketing.

Since the strike, Toc walked a fine line as both a public figure in his own right and the head of an organization that expects its elected leaders to avoid seeking the limelight. The day after the strike began, the 48 Cantons even published a message allegedly debunking claims that under Toc’s leadership they had formed a political alliance with the left-wing CODECA, a campesino organization vilified by business elites whose figurehead, Thelma Cabrera, came in fourth place in the 2019 presidential elections.

In an interview with El Faro in his office alongside his family’s construction equipment shop and restaurant in the rural canton of Paxtocá, Totonicapán, some 115 miles from Guatemala City, Toc acknowledges that he is thinking about his future career in national politics and doesn’t rule out the possibility of competing in the 2027 presidential race, when he’s over the minimum age of 40 years old.

You can read the full article here, “Becoming president of Guatemala requires resources that I don’t have”, from which you can access the Spanish version.


The 48 Cantons is the community authority of the people of Totonicapán, elected by the Communal and Municipal Assembly, serving in favour of the care of life, the collective rights of the people, the care and defense of Mother Nature and the entire natural heritage of Totonicapán.

You can read more, in Spanish, here, 48 Cantones Oficial.



Categories: Culture, Guatemala, Human Rights, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land, Poverty, Resource Extraction, Solidarity in Action/Guatemala

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