Republica de Guatemala
The main language is Spanish,
plus 22 indigenous languages.
Independence from Spain:
September 15 1821, or July 25th 1850
depending on who you ask
Currency is Quetzal
1 US Dollar=8.01 Quetzal
Adult illiteracy rate: 26.8%
Population not using improved water source: 4%
Children underweight for age: 23%
$ 1.25 a day: 11%
$2 a day 24.3%
National Poverty Line: 56.2%
Why is There Poverty?
United Fruit Company
A US Corporation that grows bananas in Central America.
Today it is known as Chiquita Brands International
In 1871, a man named Minor Keith from Brooklyn decided to build a railroad in Costa Rica from San Jose to the port of Limon. He planted bananas alongside the tracks first just to feed the workers, then exporting them to the US and Europe. This idea boomed, and he began growing more and more bananas to ship out.
Keith’s company, Tropical Trading and Transport Company merged with Boston Fruit Company and formed United Fruit Company.
Keith’s Lawyer Bradley Palmer managed the merger and then became part of the executive committee.
When United Fruit Company was founded, it was worth $11,230,000.
From 1898-1920 Guatemala was ruled by a dictator named Manuel Estrada Cabrera, who was put into power with the help of the United Fruit Company.
In 1901, Cabrera hired the United Fruit Company to manage the countrie’s postal service- with it’s railroad.
BY 1930 the company had abosorbed more than 20 rival firms and bought huge shares in other companies in order to have financial control over the banana industry as well as control over the transportation and communication in Central America.
The company’s capital at this point was $215,000,000.
Frequently accused of bribing government officials, exploiting workers, paying very little in wages and in taxes, and has worked very hard to monopolize.
Company became a major part of many activist groups in Central America who were organizing strikes against the company.
In may 1952 Guatemalan President JacoboArbenz announced a land reform program that would nationalize unused land from landlords and from the United Fruit Compant, who was the largest landowner in Guatemala.
Us Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and CIA director Alan Dulles were both on the board of director’s for the United Fruit Company, and were a part of the CIA’s program PBSuccess, a covert operation to overthrow JocoboArbenz.
War and Turmoil
Throughout Guatemala’s history, they have had a lot of war, many coups, etc.
Colonized by Spain until 1821-took a long time to really separate from them.
The United Provinces of Central America-civil war, dissolved between 1838 and 1840
Justo Rufino Barrios came to power in 1871 and tried to reunite the union which caused more war.
Then Manuel Estrada Cabrera.
The first democratically elected president to full finish the term in which they were elected was ArevaloBernejo.
After Bernejo was JacoboArbenz who was overthrown in the coup, the next president was assassinated,
And then there was the Guatemalan Civil War that lasted from 1960-1996.
Stemmed out of the PBSuccess.
The war was first fought between the government, backed by CIA and US military, against different insurgents.
PartidoGuatemalteco del Trabajo, Guatemalan Labor Party- composed of middle-class intellectuals and students.
EscuelaPolitencia- a national military academy. Group of left wing junior officers revolted on November 13 1960. Hid in the hills, contacted Cuban government of Fidel Castro and created MovimientoRevolucionario 13 Noviembre.
November 1965, US Security Advisor John P. Longan went to Guatemala and launched Operation Cleanup- death squad responsible for kidnappings, assassinations of leaders of labor unions and and peasants.
In 1966 a counter insurgency campaign combated guerrilla organizations including Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes- Rebel Armed Forces whose attacks included the assassinations of leading representatives of the military government, US military advisors.
January 31, 1980-K’iche and Ixil peasant farmers occupied Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City- turned into shoot out that left 36 dead and caused Spain to sever its diplomatic ties with Guatemala.
Also created a new guerrilla group Frente patriotic 31 de Enero- Patriotic front of 31 of January.
August 8 1983- General Oscar HumbertoMajiaVictores became de facto president.
Claimed the coup was justified because of corruption in government.
July 1 1984- election for a Consituent Assembly to draft a new democratic Constitution
May 30 1985- Constitution finish and in effect.
1986-Vinico Cerezo- first president elected under new constitution.
10 more years of violence followed, although not much is written about this time except for the US celebrating how great things now were.
The military was still ruling from behind the scenes, many strikes, protests, and a lot of corruption.
November 11, 1990- Jorge Antonio Serrano Elias became president- first transition from one democratically elected official to another.
From then on, even until present time, Guatemala has a very rocky government. The conditions fluctuate and there are many protests and strikes because of human rights abuses, high crime rates, etc.