Guatemalan history

Brief history of Guatemala summarized

In summary, the brief history of Guatemala.

Spanish Guatemala

In 1523 Pedro de Alvarado was sent with a force of Spaniards to Guatemala. The Spanish had a great technological advantage over the indigenous people and by 1540 they ruled the entire area.

The Spanish then became the ruling class. Meanwhile, the indigenous people converted to Christianity (although they actually kept many of their old beliefs) and the church became very rich and powerful in Guatemala.

Meanwhile, Guatemalan society was divided with people born in Spain at the top. People of Spanish descent born in Guatemala were second in the ranking. Then came the mixed race. In the background were the indigenous people.

Independent Guatemala

Guatemala became independent from Spain in 1821. It was annexed by Mexico for a short time, but in 1823 Guatemala became part of the United Provinces of Central America with Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Honduras. However, the union was short-lived. It was completely broken in 1840.

In the 1830s a liberal regime ruled Guatemala, but in 1839 an uprising occurred and a man named Rafael Carrera came to power. The changes introduced by the liberal regime were eliminated.

However, the liberals retook power in Guatemala in 1871, and in 1872 Rufino Barrios became president. He soon began to rule Guatemala as a dictator. Barrios restricted the power of the church.

Coffee production also increased considerably. He created coffee plantations in Guatemala, which were owned by a small elite and worked by indigenous people. However, Barrios died in 1885.

Guatemala in the 20th century

The next prominent ruler in Guatemala was Estrada Cabrera, who ruled from 1898 to 1920. During his time, in 1901 the American United Fruit Company began operations in Guatemala and by the 1930s they were growing large quantities of bananas in the country. Meanwhile, in 1931, Jorge Ubico was elected president. He remained in power until 1944, when he was forced into exile.

In 1945 Juan José Arévalo was elected president. He introduced many reforms. He also spent money on education and hospitals. However, there were many attempts to overthrow him.

In 1951 Jacobo Arbenz succeeded him. In 1952, Arbenz introduced a law that unused land (including land owned by the United Fruit Company) would be redistributed to the poor.

The company would be compensated, but the amount of compensation would be based on the value of the land they had given for tax purposes (which was a fraction of its actual value). So the CIA orchestrated an invasion of Guatemala led by two Guatemalan officers. Arbenz was forced to resign.

Castillo Armas became the next president of Guatemala. He undid all the reforms. In addition, anyone who could not read and write (the majority of the population) was deprived of the right to vote). Indeed, most of the poor were disenfranchised.

During the 1960s and 1970s, industry in Guatemala developed, but extreme poverty remained. A series of repressive regimes ruled, but leftist guerrillas began to fight back and thousands of people died in the political violence in Guatemala.

The violence peaked in the early 1980s, however civilian rule returned in 1986 when Vinicio Cerezo was elected president. The bloodshed in Guatemala lessened, but it did not end entirely. The killing finally ended in 1996, when the peace accords were signed. The civil war in Guatemala may have cost 200,000 lives.

Guatemala today

Today Guatemala is still a very poor country and the economy is based on agriculture. Guatemala is also a very unequal society. Although poverty persists, at least literacy rates have improved. Guatemala is in constant development. Still, Guatemala has great potential for tourism. The current population of Guatemala is 15 million inhabitants.

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