Seventeen kilometers south of Santa Elena  on the road to Guatemala City  lies Cooperativa Nuevo Horizonte (website ), a community of returned refugees and former combatants from the Guatemalan civil war. The cooperative was formed in 1998, when the community was re-settled near the town of Santa Ana following the 1996 peace accords.
Nuevo Horizonte offers a fascinating glimpse into Guatemala’s sociopolitics. Although each family retains individual ownership of their house and farm plot, the pasturelands, a 250-acre forest preserve, a lake, and plantations of pineapple, pine, and lime trees are collectively owned.
The co-op provides free day care, primary and secondary education, adult vocational training, and operates a pharmacy and clinic. The community also keeps two pickups and a minivan for anyone’s use.
Additional infrastructure includes a welding shop and two corn mills. In an effort to minimize dependence on outside sources, the community maintains its own seed bank.
Many of the community’s residents lived in the Petén  rainforests during the war years, on the run from Guatemalan government forces. In time, the jungle became a source of food, shelter, and safety and these experiences provided insights into uses for medicinal plants and food.
Among the cooperative’s initiatives is community-based tourism. They are happy to show you around the village and share their stories, and also take great pride in their forest preserve and reforestation program. Rustic cabins and meals from the community are available for visitors.