Chronography of Guatemala

Page last modified 21 August 2023


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Graphic of Latin America 2010-19 socio-political

Demography of Guatemala


2003, Oscar Berger was elected President, for the Grand National Alliance Party. However turnout was well under 50%

1999, The Truth Commission blamed the Army and paramilitary organisations for many human rights abuses during the civil war.

1998, Bishop Juan Gerardi, Human Rights campaigner, was murdered.


Guatemalan Civil War 1961-96

29/12/1996, The Guatemalan Civil War ended after 36 years.The Government and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union signed a peace deal.

14/1/1993. Ramiro de Leon Carpio was sworn in as President of Guatemala.

1991, Jorge Antonio Serrano Elias (born 1945) was elected President; however he later fled the country in 1/1993, after he attempted to suspend the Constitution and was then ousted by the military, business and political leaders.

1986, Civilian rule restored to Guatemala. Marco Vinicio Cerezo Arevalo (born 1942) was elected President,

1983, Two further coups in Guatemala, in August and in October.

7/1/1983. The US sent arms to Guatemala.


Garcia rule

23/3/1982, Military coup in Guatemala. RomeoLucas Garcia, who was later to be charged by Amnesty International with being responsible for some 5,000 political assassinations, was overthrown. In 6/1982 he was succeeded by General Jose Efrain Rios Montt.

1978, General Romeo Lucas Garcia (born 1924) became President of Guatemala. He ordered a harsh crackdown on opponents, reportedly ordering the deaths of some 5,000, including 76 opposition political leaders. His policies caused the cessation of US aid.


5/7/1970, Kidnapped West German Ambassador to Guatemala, Count von Spreti, was killed when the Guatemalan Government rejected the kidnapper�s demand for US$700,000 ransom and the release of 25 political prisoners.

31/3/1970, Guatemalan guerrillas kidnapped West German Ambassador, Count von Spreti.

18/8/1968, The US Ambassador to Guatemala was killed in Guatemala City by Communist guerrillas as he resisted a kidnap attempt.

16/1/1968, Communist guerrillas in Guatemala shot dead two US Embassy military attaches.

1966, The Guatemalan Army bgegan a �pacification� campaign against the indigenous Amerindians in the Highlands, 200,000 Amerindians died beteween now and 1984.

1961, In response to human rights abuses by the Gutemalan Government, along with economic exploitation by powerful business and landowning elites, a Communist insurgency began in the country. Promised social and economic reforms did not materialise. Indigenoius peoples, almost all poor peasants, were attracted by the Communist movement.


4/11/1960, Anacafe, (Asociacion Naacional del Caf�) founded in Guatemala City to increase the world market share of coffee grown in Guatemala.

12/2/1958, General Miguel Fuentes was elected President of Guatemala.

26/7/1957, Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas, dictatorial President of Guatemala, was assassinated by a palace guard with Leftist sympathies. He had had failed to bring prosperity to Guatemala. Guerillas began to operate across the country, opposed by a succession of brutal military regimes. These regimes killed an estimated 200,000 Guatemalans, mostly indigenous Mayan peasants, and razed thousands of villages in a scorched earth policy. Some Guatemalans looked back with nostalgia to the �quiet days� before 1944. Many of these Mayans, some 70,000, were murdered under the regime of General Efrain Rios Montt, 1982-3.


Leftist presidency of Guzman 1951-54; ousted by US-backed coup

7/1954, A succesful US-backed coup against President Arbenz Guzman, when the Guatemalan Army failed to support him. Colonel Castillo Armas took over leadership, and Arbenz fled to Mexico.

18/6/1954, A 2,000 strong anti-Communist army under Lieutenant Colonel Catrlos Castillo Armas (1914-57) invaded Guatemala from Honduras, encounteriung little resistance from the Giuatemala Army.

3/1954, The USA and several Latin American countires expressed concern at the rise of Communist movements in the Americas. Poland sent arms to Guatemala, whilst the USA sent armaments to Guatermala�s neoighbours, Honduras and Nicaragua.

3/1951, Nationalist leader Jacobo Arbenz Guzman won Guatemalan elections. At that time 2.2% of landowners owned 70% of the land, of which 70% was left uncultivated; the average annual agricultural labourer�s wage was US$87. Most of the economy was foreign-owned, largely by the USA, and the United Fruit Company was the largest landowner, but with 85% of its land left fallow. Arbenz proceeded, in 1952, to nationalise land holdings, limit the power of foreign corporations, and supported strikes against foreign businesses. 225,000 acres of the United Fruit Company�s land was expropriated. The US feared a Communist takeover of Guatemala.


11/1950, Colonel Carlos Castillo, of the Guatemalan Army, attempted to overthrow the civilian goverment. On failing, he fled into exile.

1945, Liberal reformer Juan Jose Arevalo won the 1945 elections.

1944, Revolution against the dictatorial leader Jorge Ubico Castaneda. Civilian government was restored.

2/4/1885, President Barrios was killed at the Battle of Chalchupa, after he had tried to fulfil his desire for a new United Provinces by force and led his army into El Salvador.

23/2/1885, President Barrios of Guatemala again called for the re-establishment of a United Central American Republic, with himself as President.

1876, The President of Guatemala, JR Barrios, attempted to restore the United Provinces of Central America, but his efforts came to nothing.

1873, Granados retired as President and was succeeded by Barrios, former commander in chief of the army. Barrios exercised dictatorial rule, reducing the influence of the Church

1871, A long period of Conservative rule in Guatemala ended when the Liberals mounted a coup, led by Miguel Garcia Granados (1809-78) and Justo Rufino Barrios (1835-1885) captured tha capital. Giuatemala City, after a 90-day campaign and Granados became President.

1859, Britain agreed with Guatemala to build a highway connecting Guatemala City to the Caribbean coast, in exchange for Guatemala recognising the integrity of Belizean territory. Guatemala has had a long-standing claim on the southern 53% of Belize. Belize came into existence as a British colony when Spain agreed to let Britain cut mahogany in what is now northern Belize; however British cutters gradually moved southwards too. When Spain retreated from Latin America in the 1800s, Britain claimed the entire territory, naming it British Honduras. In the event, Britain never built the promised road, and Guatemala claims to have inherited the southern half of modern Belize from Spain.

1841, Guatemala became independent from the United Provinces of Central America.

1/7/1823, An assembly at Guatemala City declared the independence of the United Provinces of Central America.

17/4/1839, The Republic of Guatemala was established.

1823, Guatemala, became part of the United Provinces of Central America.

1821, Guatemala proclaimed its imndependence from Spain.

1524, First Spanish penetration into what is now Guatemala.


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