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A Better Life

A Better Life

After 30 years of war, a difficult peace, migration, economic, social and cultural upheaval, for her new film Olivia Carrescia returns to Todos Santos, to examine the changes that have taken place. The Todos Santeros now have cell phones, TV's and large cinderblock houses, but are they better off?

The civil strife of the 1980's ended in the official Peace Accord of 1996, but left many of the conflict's underlying social and economic problems unresolved. An increasing number of Todos Santos, rather than traveling as they had done for generations to the coastal cotton plantations, began traveling back and forth to the U.S.-legally or illegally. They sent back cash remittances that those who were left behind used for household necessities, and later for clothes, electronics and other items. Before long, homes similar to those the migrants saw in the United States and in the luxury resorts of Cancun, Mexico, began springing up in this traditional Mayan village. As a result, Todos Santos grew and prospered, becoming a commercial hub in the northwestern mountains of Guatemala.

But the prosperity was not to last. Long term migration and the economic crisis of 2008 in the U.S. has had severe repercussions in this once small mountain village.

In A BETTER LIFE we meet again Santiaga, the weaver and resourceful homemaker, Benito, the former school teacher, and Desiderio, the wise environmentalist-all familiar to those who have seen the Todos Santos trilogy of films. Along with returning migrants and newly introduced villagers, young and old, the impact of profound change and altered expectations is explored with the sensitivity, awareness and insight that have characterized this documentary series.

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