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Huehuetenango (Huehuetenango, Guatemala)

Last modified: 2021-08-25 by rob raeside
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image by Olivier Touzeau, 6 January 2007

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"Prensa Libre", 31 December 2006, has an article by Mike Castillo on the designer of the flag of Huehuetenango, Osberto Mackepeace. José Osberto Mackepeace Palacios designed the flag of the Department of Huehuetenango in 1955. Aged 15, Mackepeace was commissioned by Augusto López and Efraín Méndez, municipal employee and secretary, respectively, to design a flag and a shield for the department. For months, Mackepeace studied the history of Huehuetenango, and he eventually presented his design on 2 July 1955 during the town patron saint's festival. The flag was later adopted as the flag of the town of Huehuetenango. The designer says that the colours of the flag come from the Maya culture and refer to the Popol Vuh [lit., the Council Book, relating the Maya mythology], representing hope, life and death. The flag is used today in public and private institutions and education centers. For the 51 years of existence of the flag, Mackepeace has produced some 5,000 flags, selling several of them to nationals and foreigners from all over the world. The meaning of the symbol is the following: Dark yellow is the color of the divinity, which strengthens the spirit and the unity between man and woman. Green is the colour of hope. Red  represents the east where the sun rises, the origin of civilization White stands for the very cold land of Huehuetenango. Black represents the decline of the day, the end of life and death. The ruins symbolize the Maya culture and recall our lineage. The 32 stars represent the 32 municipalities forming the department.
The photography by Mike Castillo shows Osberto Mackepeace sitting in front of a big flag. The flag is horizontally divided green-white-green with a dark yellow triangle placed along the hoist. Unfortunately, the designer completely hides the emblem that seems to be placed in the middle of the white stripe (the black part behind the designer seems to be nothing but the back of his chair!). The coat of arms of the Town of Huehuetenango shown below: Comparison with the emblem shown on the real flag is difficult, but Mackepeace's description explicitly mentions 32 stars ("estrellas") whereas the image shows clover leaves instead. Moreover, Jaume Ollé reported a very different flag, with a quite different coat of arms (but claims that the coat of arms of the town and the department are the same, and therefore show the department coat of arms as different from the emblem shown on the flag), whereas the aforementioned article says that the flag and arms are used both by the town and the department.
More information on the Department of Huehuetenango: The Department of Huehuetenango (846,544 inhabitants; 7,403 sq. km) is located in Region VII (North-West), on the border with Mexico. It is made of the 31 municipalities of Huehuetenango, Chiantla, Malacatancito, Cuilco, Nentón, San Pedro Necta, Jacaltenango, Soloma, Ixtahuacán, Santa Bárbara, La Libertad, La Democracia, San Miguel Acatán, San Rafaél La Independencia, Todos Santos Cuchumatán, San Juan Atitán, Santa Eulalia, San Mateo Ixtatán, Colotenango, San Sebastián Huehuetenango, Tectitán, Concepción Huista, San Juan Ixcoy, San Antonio Huista, San Sebastián Coatán, Santa Cruz Barillas, Aguacatán, San Rafaél Petzal, San Gaspar Ixchil, Santiago Chimaltenango and Santa Ana Huista. Huehuetenango is one of the departments of Guatemala where Maya laguages are the most spoken (Mam, Tectiteco, Aguacateco, Chuj, Popti' aka Jacatelco, Kanjobal and Chalchiteco). The archeological site of Zaculeu is located less than 3 km from the town of Huehuetenango. This is the old fortress of the Mams, where the famous ruler Kaibil Balam entrenched himslef and resisted the Spaniards commanded by Captain Gonzalo de Alvarado until 1526. Zaculeu was declared Precolombian National Monument  by a Decree of the Ministry of Education on 12 June 1970. Zaculeu means in Quiché "white land". The neighbouring archeological site of  Chalchitán was declared Precolombian National Monument by Government's Decree on 24 April 1931. The department of Huehuetenango is the site of the source of the river San Juan.
Source: National Statistics Institute.
Ivan Sache, 6 January 2007

The full flag with emblem and the emblem in good size and quality can be seen at <>.
Olivier Touzeau, 6 January 2007

The creator of the flag, both in the interview, and on his website talks of municipal officials, not departmental ones.  And he describes it only as the flag of Huehuetenango. Furthermore, if you click on the "leer historia" next to the flag at S. Mackepeace's webpage, or go directly to <>, he indicates the original design of the arms had "la leyenda Municipalidad arriba y abajo Huehuetenango" [Municipality above and Huehuetenango below]. All of this makes me suspect it likely that the news report erred, and this flag was actually not of the Department but of its eponymous capital, the municipality of Huehuetenango.
Ned Smith, 14 January 2007

I sent an email to Jose Orberto Makepeace Palacios asking him if the flag and emblem he designed was the one from the Municipality (city) or the one from the Department. He asked me to read the story of the flag in his web page and said that it is definitly the flag and emblem of the municipality and not the department. Here I translate the parts where it says it is the flag of the municipality:
"...being the secretary of the municipality Mr. Efrain Mendez, and the municipality official (mayor) Mr. Augusto Lopez, I was contacted to create a flag that it was going to be used that year during some activity for the city's July I gave him the first flag with an emblem on july 2 of 1955, I remember that it was bright yellow with a Minerva Temple and read on the top Municipality and on the bottom year I elaborated 2 more flags, then i continued with my studies and later, now married, we started doing some changes to the flag and to the coat of arms, finally creating it to its current design, from 1968 we have been elaborating it for different institutions and for the municipality (city) and for some learning institutions, but in reality it has been used officially since 1987....."
So definitely this is the Municipality (city) of Huehuetenango flag and coat of arms and not the department's flag or emblem. The Fiestas Julias are  July 16 in commemoration of the Virgen del Carmen Patron Saint of the city of Huehuetenango, for which purpose the first flag was created.
Fred Drews, 15 June 2007

Coat of Arms

image by Jaume Ollé

New Coat of Arms

image contributed by Fred Drews, 21 October 2011