Guatemala Recent History

Fuentes ruled with an iron hand, always refused aid from the United States, expropriated farmland of German owners and also had a series of accidents with Great Britain; there was already a conflict with this since the end of World War II when an explicit affirmation of sovereignty over British Honduras was added to the Constitution of Guatemala. This, of course, had not met with the favor of Great Britain which occupied the territory since 1600. According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Guatemala, the Fuentes dictatorship ended in 1963 with a military coup which however immediately created another, that of Colonel Enrique Peralta Azurdia.

He fought against corruption, increased coffee production, gave greater impetus to North American investments in Guatemala; however, he continued to deal with Britain over Honduras. To complete this long-standing conflict, the United States acted as intermediaries; eventually Britain declared itself willing to renounce the territory.

During the presidency of Peralta there was constant unrest and guerrilla warfare. In 1965 a new constitution was drafted and in 1966 there were new elections. It was won by an adept of the Revolutionary Party, Professor Julio Cesar Mendez Montenegro, also with the approval of the military.
He too often had to resort to a state of siege because of the constant unrest; personalities were kidnapped and murdered. Many wealthy families, for this reason, left the country, of course with the spilling of their capital too. The situation became critical. The elections of March 1, 1970 took place in an atmosphere of danger and mistrust.
The far right candidate was elected, Colonel Carlos Arana Osorio. This triggered the wrath of the leftists who reacted by killing the German Ambassador Karl-Maria von Spreti.

In 1974 the government candidate, Minister of Defense, General Kjell Langerud Garcia was elected. All this while the “Indians” of Guatemala did not enjoy any participation in the economic and political life of the country and indeed were kept in the lowest level of degradation.

And these Indians, settled on the plateaus, increasingly fed the guerrillas. Meanwhile in 1978 another general had come to power FL Lucas Garcia. The situation did not improve; divisions within the armed forces grew and traditional parties gradually weakened.

So that the 1982 elections took place in the midst of the most vibrant protests and provoked a coup d’état by General E. Rios Montt who first dissolved the Congress, suspended the Constitution and the parties, began the work of restructuring the system politician and worked hard to defeat the guerrillas. Then, as a good Protestant, he accentuated the rifts with the Church which continually criticized its repression.

Guatemala Recent History

But the conflicts that arose within the armed forces led to a coup that overthrew him in August 1983. The main architect was General OHMejia Victores, who continued the war against the guerrilla insurgents, mostly Indians, who died to thousands. He had thousands of villages destroyed by forcing survivors to live grouped in camps, perennially controlled by the military.
Expenditures to improve the military were high and help from the United States returned.

In the years1984/1985 the foundations were founded for the reconstitution of new parties; with the elections of a new Assembly, the right could therefore be reduced and the work of the new moderate formations began: the Christian Guatemalan Democracy (DCG) and the Union del Centro Nacional (UCN) which obtained about half of the seats. The new Constitution of 1985, among other things, had approved of bringing the years of the presidential term to five instead of four and in November of that year the Christian Democrat MV Cerezo Arevalo took office while the DCG obtained 51 seats out of 100.

Before leaving the government to the new management, the military approved a decree that guaranteed them an amnesty for all political crimes committed until then.

The guerrilla war continued, however, and the dead were one hundred thousand; the wickedness continued and the United States, which had continued in 1985 to materially support Guatemala, in December 1990 stopped their aid.

Only in 1991 was it possible to begin peace talks for Central America, already decreed in Esquipulas.

In the international arena, again in 1921, the British Honduras issue could be definitively closed with the complete independence of the colony and the restoration of diplomatic relations with Great Britain.

Inside, President Cerezo tried to reconcile the interests of the various sectors, military and economic; resumed the study of a just agrarian and social reform; two thirds of the population were very low income and illiterate.

Subsequent elections saw little turnout; the moderate candidate J. Serrano Elias won who continued the controlled policy of his predecessor, while the decline of the right was definitely marked.

In May 1993 Serrano Elias was forced to dissolve both Congress and the Supreme Court and to suspend the Constitution, because the impediment to govern amid numerous episodes of corruption involving some ministers was significant.
The most vibrant protests for this state of affairs rose above all from the Catholic Church; this led to the deposition of the chief by the military who committed themselves to guaranteeing public order.

Provisionally the government was entrusted to R. de Leon Carpio, tireless defender of human rights.
In January 1994, changes were made to the Constitution in order to be able to fight corruption more easily. In addition, the years of the presidential term were increased to 4 and the number of deputies was significantly reduced.

Elections for a new Congress took place in August of the same year. She was won by an extreme right-wing party, the Guatemalan Republican Front, founded by the well-known general E. Rios Montt. The internal situation had a slight improvement.


In the general elections of November 1995, after 40 years of absence, there was the participation of a leftist party, the Democratic Front New Guatemala. These consultations gave victory to the conservatives of the National Advance Party, whose leader Arzù Irigoyen in January 1996 was elected President of the Republic.

He immediately undertook a work of social recovery and negotiated with the uninterrupted guerrilla who, in March 1996, agreed to sign an agreement for the “ceasefire”.

Then, availing itself of the mediation of the United Nations, on December 29, 1996, Irigoyen signed a peace agreement with the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union, with which various interventions were foreseen such as: application of constitutional reforms for the modernization and democratization of the structures state; increase in social expenses; military spending cuts; guarantee for the return to civil life of the guerrillas; approval of a law for national reconciliation with cancellation of light crimes committed during the civil war.

In 1997, despite a huge loan from the international community, the internal economic situation worsened, also caused by the return of thousands of refugees who made it difficult not only to redistribute the lands, but also fueled the already strong discrimination against the “Indians ”, Which represented the majority of the population.

The goal of national reconciliation, thus, still remained unattainable and uncertain, so much so that in April 1998 there was the murder of J. Gerardi, auxiliary bishop of the capital, guilty of having published a report in which the names were disclosed those responsible for the major atrocities perpetrated in the civil war, and who were included in the armed forces and right-wing paramilitary groups.

In November 1999, although in a climate of great uncertainty, presidential elections took place which definitively took the country out of the civil war.

They developed in two rounds and in December they were won by A. Portillo, candidate of the Guatemalan Republican Front.