Our Central America tour (17): Guatemala

The country’s name comes from the Nahuatl language and translates as “place of many trees”. A Spanish colony from 1524, Guatemala became fully independent in 1834.

From 1960-1996, the country was ravaged by a 36-year long civil war which pitted four groups of Leftist, mainly Mayan, insurgents – who came together as Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) – against the US-backed army. More than 200,000 people – most of them civilians – were killed or disappeared.

In terms of both size and population, Guatemala is easily the largest of the five countries on our tour of Central America. The population is 15 million (over a third indigenous Maya) and the capital is Guatemala City.

Life expectancy remains among the lowest in the region and the country is plagued by organised crime and violent street gangs.

The current president – elected in November 2011 – is Otto Perez Molina of the Right-wing Patriotic Party who served as an army general at the time of the dictatorship of Efrain Rios Montt (who,is currently cared with genocide) in a region of the country which experienced the worst human rights abuses and massacres. He has put thousands of troops on the streets in the areas of most serious crime. In fact some of the worst criminal excesses are committed by the security forces.


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>