Military History In Guatemala
The military history in Guatemala is incredible and marked by several ups and downs that significantly influenced the growth and development of the region. Guatemala, once the home of the remarkable Mayan Civilization, was occupied by Pedro de Alvarado, a Spanish conquistador, in the year 1524.
However, after the final collapse of the United Provinces of Central America in 1839, Guatemala emerged as a Republic. It was ruled by Dictator Manuel Estrada Cabrera from the year 1898 to the year 1920 and by Gen. Jorge Ubico Castaneda from the year 1931 to the year 1944.
In the year 1944, a sect of left-leaning professionals and students, called the October Revolutionaries, compelled Ubico to the step down from the seat of power. A large number of socio-economic and political reforms were then introduced in the country by the liberal-democratic coalitions headed by Juan José Arévalo (1945–1951) and Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán (1951–1954). These reforms were made with an aim of empowering the urban workers and the peasantry to the detriment of the military, large business houses, and wealthy landowners.
After a series of suppressive regimes, Guatemala was finally pushed into a civil war in 1960. This war between the leftists’ rebels, the right wing vigilante groups, and the military governments continued for 36 years and became the longest civil war ever fought in the history of Latin America. Over 50,000 opponents and rebels were killed by the death squads of the right-wing by 1970. Owing to the massive abuse of human rights by the country, the US military aid was withdrawn in the year 1977. As many as 200,000 people were murdered towards the end of the civil war and Mayan Indians became known worldwide for brutality. In the year 1999, the Guatemalan army was blamed for 93 percent of the abuses in Civil War.
In 1986, after the new constitution was passed, Civilian Marco Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo was appointed as the head of the government. Jorge Serrano Elías followed him to become the next head of the nation in 1991. It was in December, 1996 that a peace treaty was ultimately signed by President Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen.
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