Day 248 & 249. Sat. 4th April, 2020. A little bit of Guatemalan history.

In the last blog Jen gave an insight into our immediate community.

I’d like to extend that to take in some of the country’s more recent history. While we feel completely safe here now, it hasn’t always been so peaceful. The following is a cut-and-paste from Wikipedia :-

A civil war in Guatemala fought between the government of Guatemala and various leftist rebel groups supported initially by ethnic Maya indigenous people and Ladino peasants, who together make up the rural poor, from 1960 to 1996. The government forces of Guatemala have been condemned for committing genocide against the Maya population of Guatemala during the civil war and for widespread human rights violations against civilians.[14] The context of the struggle was amidst longstanding issues of land distribution with European-descended and foreign companies such as the United Fruit Company conflicting with the rural poor.

Democratic elections during the Guatemalan Revolution in 1944 and 1951 had brought popular leftist governments to power, but a United States-backed coup d’état in 1954 installed the military regime of Carlos Castillo Armas, who was followed by a series of conservative military dictators. In 1970, Colonel Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio became the first of a series of military dictators representing the Institutional Democratic Party or PID. The PID dominated Guatemalan politics for twelve years through electoral frauds favoring two of Col. Carlos Arana’s proteges (Gen. Kjell Eugenio Laugerud Garcia in 1974 and Gen. Romeo Lucas Garcia in 1978). The PID lost its grip on Guatemalan politics when General Efraín Ríos Montt, together with a group of junior army officers, seized power in a military coup on 23 March 1982. In the 1970s continuing social discontent gave rise to an insurgency among the large populations of indigenous people and peasants, who traditionally bore the brunt of unequal land tenure.[15] During the 1980s, the Guatemalan military assumed almost absolute government power for five years; it had successfully infiltrated and eliminated enemies in every socio-political institution of the nation, including the political, social, and intellectual classes.[16] In the final stage of the civil war, the military developed a parallel, semi-visible, low profile but high-effect, control of Guatemala’s national life.[17]

It is estimated that 200,000 people were killed or forcefully disappeared during the conflict. Though there was fighting between government forces and rebel groups, the conflict also included much more significantly, a large-scale, coordinated campaign of one-sided violence by the Guatemalan state against the civilian population from the mid-1960s onward. – —-End of item–.

As a younger man, our camp owner recounted a personal experience in 1990. A group had gathered in a town on the opposite side of the lake to us. They were protesting and soon an army truck appeared. Soldiers opened fire killing 14 and wounding a further 21.

It’s worth digging a little deeper into the activities of the United Fruit Company and it’s directors..

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