||Guatemala's Recent History
||Dictator Jorge Ubico overthrown.
Civilian/military "October Revolution" breaks out and
victorious forces sponsor new elections.
||Reformist candidate Juan
José Arévalo elected president.
New democratic constitution. Women granted suffrage.
||New labor code grants
the right to organize and strike.
||Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán
||Agrarian reform law passed,
opening the way for expropriation of uncultivated estates and
their redistribution to landless peasants. Communist Party legalized.
||United Fruit Company plantations and International
Railways nationalized; 400,000 uncultivated acres redistributed
to landless peasants.
||CIA's "Operation Success" topples
Carlos Castillo Armas takes power.
Expropriated lands returned to former owners; all effective unions
disbanded; thousands of people killed.
||Castillo Armas assassinated;
Presidential elections turn into riots; military takes control
of government and names Guillermo Flores Avendaño head
||Failed U.S. invasion of Cuba launched
from Guatemalan and Nicaraguan soil.
||Belize turns down offer to become "associate
state" of Guatemala.
||Outbreak of major student and labor protests;
Formation of M-13 and Rebel Armed Forces (FAR) guerrilla groups.
||Diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom
suspended due to dispute over Belize; Guatemala threatens war.
||Revolutionary Party (PR) candidate Julio César
Méndez Montenegro elected president.
U.S. Special Forces participate in "Operation Guatemala,"
a counterinsurgency campaign led by Col. Carlos Arana Osorio,
which kills more than 8,000 people.
Appearance of White Hand and other right wing death squads, believed
to be responsible for more than 30,000 deaths over the next seven
||Miguel Ángel Asturias wins Nobel Literature
||Carlos Arana Osorio elected president.
||Formation of Organization of People in Arms
||Negotiations with Britain over Belize break
off and tension mounts. Britain sends fleet and several thousand
troops to Belize.
Formation of Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP).
||Earthquake leaves over 22,000 dead, one million
homeless, and Guatemala City partially destroyed.
||General Romeo Lucas García elected president.
Government begins elimination of union leaders.
||ORPA launches first military operation.
||Spanish embassy occupied by 39 protesters burned
to ground by security forces; Spain breaks off diplomatic relations.
||Army carries our major counterinsurgency offensive
in Chimaltenango; over 1,500 Indian campesinos killed
in two-month period.
Between 1981 and 1983, "scorched earth" counterinsurgent
policy razes 440 villages. Over 100,000 civilians, mostly Maya
indians, are killed.
Under UN auspices, Belize becomes fully independent member of
Commonwealth of Nations (Great Britain). Guatemala refuses to
recognize Belize's independence and impedes its entry into Organization
of American States.
||Formation of Guatemalan National Revolutionary
Unity (URNG) by EGP, ORPA, FAR, and other guerrilla organizations.
General Ángel Aníbal Guevara wins fraudulent elections;
junta army officers led by Efraín Ríos Montt seizes
power before Aníbal is installed. Ríos Montt takes
power in June, and immediately begins "Bananas and Beans"
"Voluntary" Civilian Self-Defense Patrols formed to
State of Siege declared.
||Defense Minister General Oscar Humberto Mejía
Víctores seizes power in military coup.
Two AID employees killed by military; U.S. economic aid suspended.
Israel supplies arms to military.
||World Council of Indigenous Peoples accuses
military of systematic extermination of indigenous people.
||Resumption of official U.S. economic and military
Christian Democrat Marco Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo wins national
||Cerezo installed as president; new constitution
Federal and municipal government workers granted the right to
||Representatives from El Salvador, Guatemala
and Honduras meet in Esquipulas, Guatemala for peace talks. Esquipulas
peace accords signed in August.
Formation of National Reconciliation Commission (CNR), while
army begins unsuccessful "Year's End" offensive to
terminate guerrilla insurgency.
In November, representatives from government and URNG meet in
||Costa Rican president Carlos Arias accuses Guatemala,
El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua of not complying fully with
Two failed coup attempts. Army continues massacres.
||URNG and National Reconciliation Commission
sign accord in Oslo to initiate dialogue.
||Accord signed at El Escorial, Spain between
URNG and nine political parties on finding solution to conflict.
December massacre in Santiago Atitlán.
||Jorge Serrano wins national elections, pledges
In April, peace negotiations begin between government and URNG.
||URNG and government hold talks in Mexico City.
URNG leader Efraín Bamaca Velásquez (a.k.a. "Everardo")
captured by army.
Rigoberta Menchú wins Nobel Peace prize.
||URNG announces unilateral cease-fire as a goodwill
gesture to incoming president Ramiro de León Carpio.
||Peace talks renewed in Mexico. Agreements reached
in March, but later URNG withdraws accusing the government of
not honoring human rights provisions. Talks resume in November.
150 Maya organizations form Coordination of Maya Peoples' Organizations
of Guatemala (COPMAGUA).
UN appoints Human Rights Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINGUA).
||Ríos Montt elected president of Congress
to widespread public outcry.
Government and URNG sign Accord on Indigenous Rights and Identity.
Catholic Church launches Recovery of Historical Memory project
||In January, Alvaro Arzú takes office
as new president.
On December 29, Peace Accords signed between government and URNG,
officially ending 36-year civil war.
The New Guatemala Democratic Front (FDNG) party formed.
||Bishop Juan Gerardi murdered in April after
publication of REHMI report.
URNG officially registers as political party.
||February - The UN-supported Historical
Clarification Commission (CEH) publishes human rights report
that states 200,000 were killed during civil war, and assigns
responsibility to Guatemalan army and U.S. government (CIA).
March - Bill Clinton visits Guatemala and expresses regret
over the U.S. role during the civil war. Clinton said that U.S.
support for military forces that "engaged in violent and
widespread repression" in Guatemala "was wrong."
May - Guatemalan voters rejected a package of 47 constitutional
reforms during the May 16 referendum, by a margin of 55/45 percent.
November - National elections slated, with participation
of URNG and FDNG congressional and mayoral candidates.
Part of this timetable is based on Tom
Barry's Inside Guatemala, published by the Inter-Hemispheric
Research Center (1992).