The History of Guatemala Timeline and Historical Events in Guatemala
A History of Guatemala Timeline: Conquered Guatemala was part of the Spanish Empire for nearly 300 years until it became independent in 1821. It was first part of the First Mexican Empire (1821–23) until becoming fully independent in the 1840s. Since then, Guatemala’s political history has had periods of democratic government, interrupted by periods of civil war and military juntas. In the late 20th-century, most of Guatemala emerged from a 36-year civil war (1960–96) and re-established representative democracy. It has struggled to enforce the rule of law and suffers a high crime rate, as well as continued extrajudicial killings, often executed by security forces.
History on Guatemala
- Continent: America.
- Area: 108,889 km².
- Capital: Guatemala City.
- Currency: quetzal.
- Official language: Spanish.
Religion Percentage in Guatemala
|Rank||Belief System||Share of Population in Contemporary Guatemala|
|1||Roman Catholic Christianity||50%|
|3||Atheism, Agnosticism, or Irreligion||11%|
Prehistory of Guatemala
Prehistory A History of Guatemala: According to some archeologists, Guatemala has the oldest recorded human history in Central America, with some evidence of human existence going back to 18,000 BC. Whether or not people actually were in Guatemala that long ago is disputed. It’s generally recognized that humans passed through the region around 12,000 years ago while migrating south into South America.
What is definitely true is that by around 3,500 BC, agriculture had come to Guatemala, and hunter/gathers were now farmers. With agriculture came villages and towns. Gradually native people in the area known as Guatemala, and also in the Yucatan in Mexico, and in Belize, formed towns and cities
The Olmec civilization came from Mexico and was in Guatemala from around 1,500 BC. The Mayan culture eventually took over in the region. The Preclassic Period ran from around 2,000 BC until 250 BC, and the cities of La Mirador and Tikal were founded during this time.
Early History of Guatemala
Early History of Guatemala: The history of Guatemala has Mayan roots and at present it is impossible to separate it from such origin. It is vital to take a look at pre-Hispanic history so that many events make sense.Guatemala is constituted as an independent country on September 15, 1821, the history that preceded its definition as a country is very characteristic of the territory it currently occupies, starting with the first inhabitants: The Mayas.
The Mayan Preclassic Period (2,500 B.C. to 250 A.D.) begins by giving vestiges of the first inhabitants who migrated from place to place until they abandoned the nomadic life. The first traces of this change are recorded in the north of Guatemala where they created their first settlements and therefore their first houses of habitation, these being simple huts.
Water, stone and fertile soil
Everything suggests that it was the fertility of the land and the abundance of stones such as silex, (very useful for the manufacture of tools, knives and hunting utensils) that led the first inhabitants to settle in the region.
The Maya were not a well-defined civilization at the time, rather these first inhabitants constitute the ancestors of the Maya or rather “developing primitive Maya”. These would evolve in their social customs to become the Mayans of the Classic Period, better known as the time of the Mayan apogee.
What is the origin of the name Guatemala?
An explanation of the name of Guatemala comes from the aforementioned word Quauhtlemallan which means many trees in the Nahuatl language – yutoazteca macrolanguage spoken in Mexico – and hence it arises that commonly refers to the “country of eternal spring”. History of Guatemala.
Guatemala Colonial Era: History About Guatemala
Colonial History of Guatemala Timeline: Most of present-day Guatemala was inhabited by the Maya, who developed an important civilization, based on the cultivation of corn. At the time of the Spanish conquest the Mayan people were going through a period of decadence.
Guatemala was conquered in 1523-1524 by Pedro de Alvarado, one of Hernán Cortés‘ captains. The conquest was bloody, and Alvarado distributed lands and Indians among his troops, thus creating a latifundista aristocracy.
Constituted as captaincy general, its jurisdiction covered Central America, except Panama, and extended to Chiapas. Spanish colonial rule did not eliminate pre-existing institutions but integrated them into its midst.
The Church monopolized culture, economic promotion and, in particular, civil power, mainly because of the absenteeism of the encomenderos, enriched by the income of their Encomiendas and the massive export to Europe, since the seventeenth century, of indigo and cocoa. History of Guatemala.
When was Guatemala Independence?
On September 15, 1821, the Captaincy General of Guatemala (formed by Chiapas, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras) officially proclaimed its independence from Spain and its incorporation into the Mexican Empire, which was dissolved two years later. The Guatemalan provinces form the United Provinces of Central America. Guatemala’s “liberal revolution” took place in 1871 under the leadership of Justo Rufino Barrios, who worked to modernize the country, improve trade, and introduce new crops and industries.
Meanwhile, coffee has become an important crop for Guatemala. Barrios had the ambition to reunite Central America and led the country to war in an unsuccessful attempt. In 1885, he lost his life on the battlefield against the forces of El Salvador. From 1898 to 1920, Guatemala was ruled by dictator Manuel Estrada Cabrera, whose access to the presidency was facilitated by the United Fruit Company.
On July 4, 1944, dictator Jorge Ubico Castañeda was forced to resign in response to a wave of protests and a general strike. From then until the end of a deadly civil war in 1996, Guatemala experienced a series of coups accompanied by massive violations of civil rights. State-sponsored killings of students, human rights activists and ethnic Maya have earned Guatemala a bad reputation around the world. In 1999, U.S. President Bill Clinton said the U.S. was wrong to support Guatemalan forces involved in brutal massacres of civilians. History of Guatemala.
Guatemalan dictatorship (1844-1944)
Rafael Carrera established an iron dictatorship between 1844 and 1865. He fought several times against neighboring countries and returned to the Church the privileges it lost during the confederal period.
His main successor was Rufino Barrios, who ruled as reformist dictator from 1873 to 1885. He attempted to re-establish the Central American union to deal with the imperialist threat of the United States, confiscated church property, and began construction of the railway network.
At the end of the century, Manuel Estrada Cabrera instituted a dictatorship, which remained until 1920. During his tenure, the penetration of U.S. capital into Guatemala began; the United Fruit Company obtained large tracts of land from the Government of Estrada for the cultivation of tropical products. Railroads and other important economic sectors also became dependent on U.S. companies.
An eleven-year period followed in which coups d’état and dictatorial regimes followed, and in which Guatemalan dependence on the United States was accentuated. A new dictatorship, that of General Ubico, dominated Guatemala from 1931 to 1944. History of Guatemala.
In December 1944, after half a century of unconstitutional regimes and governments controlled by the latifundista oligarchy, Juan José Arévalo was elected president. It carried out some reforms that did not substantially modify the socio-economic structures of the country.
He was succeeded in 1951 by Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, who in 1944 had contributed to the restoration of constitutional normality. He initiated in 1954 an extensive agrarian reform, including the expropriation of 16,500 hectares of the United Fruit consortium. History of Guatemala.
Military dictatorships (1954-1966)
On June 15, 1954, there was an armed invasion of the exiles along the border of Honduras, financed by the US CIA under the command of Colonel Castillo Armas, who was inaugurated as the new president. His dictatorial rule was characterized by a climate of constant repression and the adoption of measures favorable to the Church, the big landowners and American economic interests.
All political parties and trade union groups were outlawed. Castillo Armas was assassinated in 1957, and in 1958 General Ydígoras Fuentes, representative of traditional conservatism, held the presidency. Guatemala severed its relations with Britain after denouncing the 1859 treaty that ceded bel ice territory to Britain (1963). History of Guatemala.
Shortly before the december 1963 elections, and fearing that the leftist parties would triumph, the army staged a coup d’état, which brought General Peralta to power. The Constitution was repealed and the opposition harshly repressed. The military dictatorship ended in 1966.
Guerrilla and revolutionary movement
Guerrilla groups began to operate in the mountainous areas of northeastern Guatemala, and in a few years they achieved great breadth and scope. By agreement between the army and the parties, elections were held in March 1966. in which Julio Méndez Montenegro, of the Revolutionary Party, of reformist tendency, was victorious.
In 1970, Colonel Carlos Arana was elected president. After the 1974 elections, the Institutional Democratic Party and the National Liberation Movement consolidated their dominance in Congress, and Kjell Eugenio Laugerud, the government candidate, assumed the presidency of the Republic. History of Guatemala.
On February 4, 1976, a violent earthquake devastated the country and caused 22,000 deaths. In the 1978 elections, General Romeo Lucas García triumphed, and tension was aggravated by the intervention of far-right and far-left terrorist groups.
The indiscriminate repression of the authorities against all elements suspected of collaborating with the guerrillas, and especially against indigenous communities, caused the exodus of thousands of peasants who took refuge in Mexico. History of Guatemala.
The police stormed the Spanish embassy, occupied by peasants protesting military repression, and killed 39 of them, causing the temporary breakdown of relations between the two countries (January 1980). The British decision to grant independence to Belize (1981) led to a further rupture of diplomatic relations with Great Britain. History of Guatemala.
In the 1982 elections, General Aníbal Guevara was elected, but a military coup gave power to General Efraín Ríos Montt (March 1982), who was overthrown in August 1983 by a new coup led by General Óscar Humberto Mejía. In the 1985 elections the candidate of the Christian Democracy, Vinicio Cerezo, won. History of Guatemala.
Recent History of Guatemala: Democracy
After the Esquipulas agreement in August 1987, between the countries of the Central American area, to pacify the area, the Government reached a precarious reconciliation agreement with the guerrillas in June 1990. In September 1991, Guatemala recognized Belize’s independence and established diplomatic relations. History of Guatemala.
Jorge Serrano Elias, president since 1990, presented a peace plan to the United Nations (UN) Assembly in January 1993, and a contingent of 2,500 refugees in Mexico returned to the country, led by Guatemalan Rigoberta Menchú, Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1992.
But in April, talks broke down as the army opposed the demobilization of the so-called Civil Self-Defense Patrols.
On May 25, 1993, Serrano, accused of illicit enrichment, chose to dissolve the Chamber and the Supreme Court, and suspend constitutional guarantees. The coup from power immediately met with opposition from all political and social sectors, and on June 1 Serrano was forced to flee to El Salvador. History of Guatemala.
The Parliament then appointed Ramiro de León Carpio president, who obtained the approval of a constitutional reform to clean up the political life of the country. In the 1994 congressional elections, the Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG) prevailed, and in the presidential elections of January 1996 Alvaro Arzú won. of the National Advance Party (PAN).
The new conservative government immediately began negotiations with the guerrillas of the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (UNRG); on 4 December 1996 both sides signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in Oslo and on 29 December 1996 a solemn peace agreement in Guatemala, before official UN mediators, which ended 36 years of a civil war that caused more than 200,000 casualties, mostly among the civilian population.
For the first time since the conquest of the country in the sixteenth century, the peace agreement recognized the cultural rights of the Amerindian population, ordered the disarmament of combatants and the reduction of 30% in army personnel. The Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH). Sponsored by the UN, she accused the army of having planned the extermination of indigenous people as part of its fight against the insurgency in 1981-83.
Auxiliary Bishop Juan Gerardi was assassinated in the capital after publishing a report on the consequences of the civil war and the violation of human rights by the military (1998).
Hurricane Mitch hit the country in 1998 caused more than 200 deaths, some 100,000 victims and significant material damage that led the Government to announce a reconstruction program. The UNRG became a political party and announced the nomination of a candidate for the 1999 presidential election. In these the right-wing won
Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG), and Alfonso Portillo was sworn in as president. That same year the Guatemalan economic crisis worsened with the drought that decimated the maize harvest, and the Government announced as a priority to fight against poverty that affects the majority of the population.
History of the flag of Guatemala
If you want to know the origin of the Guatemalan flag, the first thing you should know is its meaning. In the central coat of arms appears The quetzal, a species of bird protected from the tropical forests of Guatemala, presides with long feathers on its tail the Guatemalan national flag.
This beautiful bird, a great lover of freedom, prefers to let himself die than to live captive. It is the emblem of this Central American country, the most populous in the region. History of Guatemala.
The currency of this country is also named after this bird. As evidenced by the rifles and sabers present in the national flag, the Guatemalan people are ready to defend their freedom by any means. The olive crown is a symbol of victory.
The date of September 15, 1821, inscribed on the parchment, under the legs of the bird, indicates the rupture of Guatemala with Spain, two years before the United Provinces of Central America were founded (an entity that would also include El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica).
Regarding what the colors of the flag of Guatemala mean, the colors come from the flag of this old association. The current flag was made official in 1997:
- The two blue stripes allude to Guatemala’s geographical position, between the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. They are also a call for perseverance and justice.
- The white color of the flag is synonymous with purity and righteousness. However, this people, descended from the Mayan civilization, has suffered numerous coups d’état, guerrillas and vile murders. History of Guatemala.
Read Alos History of Mexico