Jose Cabezas

Location: El Salvador
Nationality: USA
Biography: Jose Cabezas. Los Angeles California, 1971 I studied journalism at the “Jose Simeon Cañas” Central American University in San Salvador, El Salvador and graduated from the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turners Falls,... MORE
Public Story
Copyright Jose Cabezas 2023
Updated Feb 2022
Topics Black and White, Documentary, Faith, Journalism, Latin America, Personal Projects, Photography, Photojournalism

Riders participate in the race known as Sqech Koya in the local Mam language, or The Rooster Game, which is a tradition that has been held yearly for centuries in Todos Santos Cuchumatan, every November 1 in the Mountains of the Huehuetenango region, Guatemala

Sqech Koya is much more than just a race of drunken men on horses. The race is steeped in history, memory, and meaning.

The Spanish enslaved the Maya of Guatemala, and told them not to touch the horses, that the horses were only for them.” He added that the Maya were threatened with death should they touch the horses. In response to these laws, nearly 100 years after the arrival Spanish, defiant residents launched a scheme to steal the horses of the Spanish.

Before the heist, they consulted with a Aj Q’ij, the Maya Spiritual Guides, who told the men that they needed to sacrifice a rooster before stealing the horses in order to ask the ancestral spirits for permission.

It is unknown what happened to the men who stole the horses. Odds are that they were caught and executed. But, each year, the memory of their act of defiance lives on in the culture of Todos Santos with this race.
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