Tag: Guatemala

Guatemala Brief History

Guatemala Brief History

HISTORY: FROM THE ORIGINS TO THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE CAUDILLOS

The territory of present-day Guatemala was inhabited by the Maya who, having arrived in ancient times, then transmigrated further north, to the Mexican peninsula of Yucatán. When the Spanish conquest took place in Guatemala, as in the rest of Central America, there were no longer politically strong indigenous societies, but only warring nuclei. The Iberian penetration took place around the years 1523-24, thanks to Pedro de Alvarado, who was also the founder of the old capital of Guatemala, Antigua. From the political-administrative point of view, the possession suffered the fate of all the colonies of Spain in the New World. In particular, she became a Capitanía General, within the framework of the Viceroyalty of New Spain (Mexico). Therefore the events that led Mexico to independence involved Guatemala and the other Central American countries. On 15 September 1821 a Cabildo abierto proclaimed the independence of the entire region in Guatemala; but Mexico did not accept the detachment and militarily recaptured the dissident “provinces”. However, as the Mexican infighting created more favorable conditions, the rebels resumed the initiative: in June 1823 they formed a state entity, which they called the United Provinces of Central America. In 1839, when unity collapsed, each “province” became autonomous, assuming republican constitutional connotations. In Guatemala, independence did not bring about changes in the socio-economic structure, which remained colonial, to the advantage of the dominant oligarchy. Governments mirrored that situation, through the rise of caudillos and dictators. We remember Rafael Carrera, 1839-65; Justo Rufino Barrios, 1873-85; Manuel Lisandro Baillas, 1885-92; Manuel Estrada Cabrera, 1899-1920; Jorge Ubico, 1931-44. Already Barrios, but especially Estrada Cabrera and Ubico, opened the doors of Guatemala to US investments. The United Fruit Company, concessionaire of vast coffee and banana plantations, as well as services, the International Railways of Central America, active in the field of transport, and Empresa Eléctrica, a subsidiary of American Foreign Power, took advantage of this. These “Big Three” practically enslaved the Guatemalan economy to the interests of the United States, as they had done or were preparing to do with the other Republics in the sector. Internal maturation (birth of a middle class and working class), as well as the evolution of the international framework created the conditions, during the Ubico dictatorship, for a radical change.

HISTORY: FROM SOCIAL REFORMS TO THE REVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION

In October 1944, according to usprivateschoolsfinder, a victorious revolution installed a provisional junta with a social democratic tendency. In the same year free elections were held: the scholar Juan José Arévalo was elected president of the Republic. An anti-totalitarian constitution was enacted, the new regime carried out the first reforms, but the greatest efforts took place after 1950, when Arévalo was replaced by Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, his friend. The government accentuated its progressive character and tackled the problem of land redistribution. In July 1952 he promulgated an agrarian reform, which affected, in addition to the national landowners, also the United Fruit Company. From that moment Arbenz Guzmán became the target of bitter attacks by the United States, which accused him of being in the service of communism and therefore of representing a danger to the American continent. The United States supported a counterrevolutionary movement two years later which, under the command of Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas, managed to penetrate Guatemala from neighboring territories, resulting in the fall of Arbenz Guzmán and his regime in 1954. Castillo Armas remained in power until 25 July 1957, the day on which he was assassinated: however, he had time to restore the ancient order, repealing the reforms of Arévalo and Arbenz Guzmán. After a period, during which the leadership of the state alternated with exponents of the armed forces. In 1966 a civilian returned to power, the liberal progressive Julio César Montenegro. But the 1970 elections returned the presidency to a military man, Colonel Carlos Arana Osorio. In the meantime, outbreaks of guerrilla warfare had developed in the mountains by revolutionary Marxist elements. Violence also spread to the cities, due to the opposition of far-left and far-right formations. The 1974 elections gave power again to the government candidate (Kjell Langerud García) replaced, with the 1978 elections, by General Romeo Lucas García, president, and Francisco Villagrán Kramer, vice president. In 1982, a coup led by young officers brought General Efraín Ríos Montt to power, but he was deposed the following year and replaced by General Oscar Humberto Mejìa who called free elections. Held in 1984 these were won by the Partido Democracia Cristiana Guatemalteca (PDCG) and the Unión del Centro Nacional (UCN). A committee made up of representatives of the three main parties then started a revision of the Constitution, which was resolved with the promulgation of a new text.

Guatemala Brief History