Guatemalan Trade Fair in California: Big International Busines

Guatemalan artisans will exhibit their wares at the Hollywood Park Casino in Los Angeles CA for the second showing of their handicrafts. The Mayan vendors, many of whom are artisans themselves, will offer their work for sale from August 24th through the 27th. Guatemalans who claim descent from the Mayans and who speak any one of some 12 different Amerindian languages live mostly in the highlands of the small Central American republic. They are known the world over for their colorful hand-woven fabrics which forms the basis for their native dress. The women of the highlands are renowned for their hand-woven and hand embroidered blouses, called huipiles. Besides clothing, the Guatemalan craftsmen will offer the public in California a chance to buy wood carvings, dolls, and other handicrafts.

This is the second such exhibition in California. In the 60s and 70s as North American and European travelers and backpackers visited Guatemala, they brought back clothing and other crafts for sale. Since the onset of the wave of immigrants from Central America to the US, more and more Guatemalans are themselves coming to the US to sell their wares. Guatemalan officials hope for an attendance in excess of 10,000 for the four day exhibit.

Sales of Guatemalan handicrafts has slumped, somewhat, due to East Asian competition but also because of criminal violence in Guatemala. According to Guatemalan daily Prensa LIbre, exports of handicrafts from January 1st to August 10th of this year stood at US$1.820 million. In comparison, Guatemala exported US$1.987 million in 2005. A number of craftsmen’s guilds, associations, and cooperatives that will be represented at the fair are indigenous community-based.

The fair will afford an opportunity for Guatemalans to sell to Americans, but also for Americans to sell to Guatemalans. Real estate brokers and developers are due to be on hand at the fair to entice Guatemalans living in the US to buy homes and real estate. In addition, companies that deal in wire transfers of money will be there to offer their services to Guatemalans who send money home. Companies such as MoneyGram, Western Union, and the US Postal Service are competing for a wire transfer market that exceeds $8 billion per annum, the approximate amount transferred from the US to Mexico, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

The Hollywood Park Casino is located at 3883 W. Century Blvd. Inglewood CA 90303. Tel: 310-330-2800.

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