Guatemala Modern History

Guatemala Modern History

North America

According to, Guatemala, officially the Republic of Guatemala, is a Central American country with peculiar characteristics and an indigenous culture that is the product of the Mayan heritage and Spanish influence during the colonial period. At the same time it is a country with great natural beauty.

Government of Jacobo Árbenz

A great anti-communist campaign was unleashed against Arévalo and his successor, Jacobo Árbenz, which ended in an invasion from Honduras in June 1954 and the overthrow of the constitutional government.

Democratically elected Jacobo Árbenz was overthrown by a coup orchestrated and financed by the CIA, which was replaced by a brutal military dictatorship. The United Fruit Company – a company in which US Secretary of State John Foster Dullesand his brother Allen Dulles, then CIA director, had personal interests – and the banks collaborated with the CIA to protect their interests in the country. convincing the US administration that Árbenz was a communist, or at least a socialist. The operation had an eloquent name: Operation Success. [2]

President Árbenz had nationalized 3,900 km² of the company, to initiate the only agrarian reform that Guatemala has had in its history. Arbenz resigned on 27 June as as 1954 and had to leave for exile. [2]

It was the first direct intervention of the CIA in Latin America. Its consequences include at least 200,000 indigenous people and many non-indigenous people murdered in 30 years of civil war, mortgaged national sovereignty, and the absence of democracy, civil life and recognition of the basic rights of the majority population. [2]

Washington not only imposed the new military government, and armed it, but also pointed out a list of people who should be killed immediately. [2]

1960 to 1996

Immediately the dominance of foreign monopolies was restored, the Constitution and most of the revolutionary laws were repealed. The illiterate vote was suppressed, agrarian reform was halted, and new concessions were made to foreign companies. A succession of military governments or those under their tutelage began then. The four subsequent elections (1970, 1974, 1978 and 1982) were fraudulent and always favored the candidates of the military leadership. In that climate, the armed revolutionary movement was born and developed. In 1962 the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR) arose, in 1975 the Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP), and in 1979 the Organization of the People in Arms (ORPA).

On March 23, 1982, a few days after once again fraudulent elections were held, a military coup overthrew Romeo Lucas-García and imposed General Efraín Ríos Montt as the new head of government. He launched a more aggressive counterinsurgency campaign than his predecessors, sowing mourning, exile and terror throughout the country. In August 1983, Ríos Montt was deposed by a military coup – again orchestrated by the CIA – that brought General Óscar Mejía Víctores to power, who called elections in November 1985, which gave a clear victory to the Christian Democratic candidate Vinicio Cerezo.

In October 1987, the first direct negotiations between the state and the guerrillas took place after 27 years of confrontation, which continued in subsequent years. On May 25, 1993, President Serrano, with the support of a group of soldiers, gave a self-coup by which he repealed several articles of the Constitution and dissolved Congress and the Supreme Court of Justice. On June 1, faced with national and international rejection, Serrano resigned from the presidency. After several days of uncertainty, on June 6, 1993, the former Human Rights Ombudsman, Ramiro De León Carpio, was appointed the new chief executive to conclude that period of government.

Recent history

Álvaro Arzú was elected president on January 7, 1996. In December of that same year, the new government and the Guatemalan guerrillas signed a series of peace agreements that ended a war that lasted several decades and that had cost around 100,000 lives.. During the Arzú period, neoliberal policies and privatization policies were promoted in several essential sectors, including Empresa Eléctrica de Guatemala EEGSA and TELGUA, the telephone company.

On January 14, 2000, Alfonso Portillo assumed the presidency of the country after winning the elections. He was followed by Oscar Berger, elected in January 2004. On November 4, 2007, Álvaro Colom, of the self-styled Social Democratic party, Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (UNE), prevailed over his adversary Otto Pérez Molina (PP) and was elected president. During his period several social projects were promoted. The UNE government was also tainted by several allegations of corruption, however it established the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), [3] a United Nations entity independent dedicated to dismantling criminal and illicit structures. After Alvaro Colom’s term, Otto Pérez Molina was elected by the Patriot Party, a party of conservative rights associated with the military. During this period, Pérez Molina was accused and captured by CICIG for his involvement in a state fraud ring called “La Linea.”

Jimmy Morales, actor, comedian and producer was elected as president. His period was marked by a significant deterioration of the institutionality, involvement in various possible acts of corruption, and by the expulsion of the CICIG after revealing the involvement of the president’s son and brother in tax fraud.

In 2019, after a second-round election between Alejandro Giammattei and Sandra Torres (UNE candidate and Álvaro Colom’s ex-wife), Giammattei was elected president.

Guatemala Modern History