|Republic of Guatemala
República de Guatemala (Spanish)
|Motto: "Libre Crezca Fecundo"
"Live Free and Fertile"
|Anthem: Himno Nacional de Guatemala
(and largest city)
|Official language(s)||Spanish, 22 indigenous languages|
|-||President||Álvaro Colom Caballeros|
|-||Vice President||Rafael Espada|
|-||Date||15 September 1821|
|-||Total||108,890 km2 (106th)
42,042 sq mi
|-||July 2009 estimate||13,276,517 (68th)|
|-||July 2007 census||12,728,111|
|-||Density||119.38 2008/km2 (85th)
|GDP (PPP)||2008 estimate|
|-||Total||$68.750 billion 2008|
|GDP (nominal)||2008 estimate|
|Gini (2002)||55.1 (high)|
|HDI (2008)||▲ 0.704 (medium) (120th)|
|Time zone||Central Time (UTC-6)|
|Drives on the||right|
Guatemala (Spanish: República de Guatemala, Spanish pronunciation: [reˈpuβlika ðe ɣwateˈmala]) is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast. Its area is 108,890 km² (42,043 mi²) with an estimated population of 13,276,517.
A representative democracy, its capital is Guatemala City. Guatemala's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contributes to Mesoamerica's designation as a biodiversity hotspot.
The origin of the name "Guatemala" is unclear, but several theories exist. "Guatemala" may mean "land of the trees" in the Maya-Toltec language. Another theory is that it comes from the Nahuatl expression "Quauhtitlan", meaning "between the trees". Quauhtitlan was the name the Tlaxcaltecan soldiers who accompanied Pedro de Alvarado during the Spanish Conquest gave to this territory. Lastly, there is a theory that it is the Spanish corruption of a Nahoa word coactmoct-lan, meaning "land of the snake-eating bird".
The first evidence of human settlers in Guatemala goes back to at least 12,000 BC. There is evidence that may put this date as early as 18,000 BC, such as obsidian arrow heads found in various parts of the country. There is archaeological proof that early Guatemalan settlers were hunters and gatherers, but pollen samples from Petén and the Pacific coast indicate that maize cultivation was developed by 3500 BC. Sites dating back to 6500 BC have been found in Quiché in the Highlands and Sipacate, Escuintla on the central Pacific coast.
Archaeologists divide the pre-Columbian history of Mesoamerica into the Pre-Classic period (2000 BC to 250 AD), the Classic period (250 to 900 AD), and the Calistic from 900 to 1500 AD. Until recently, the Pre-Classic was regarded as a formative period, with small villages of farmers who lived in huts, and few permanent buildings, but this notion has been challenged by recent discoveries of monumental architecture from that period, such as an altar in La Blanca, San Marcos, from 1000 BC; ceremonial sites at Miraflores and El Naranjo from 801 BC; the earliest monumental masks; and the Mirador Basin cities of Nakbé, Xulnal, El Tintal, Wakná and El Mirador.
El Mirador was by far the most populated city in pre-Columbian America. Both the El Tigre and Monos pyramids encompass a volume greater than 250,000 cubic meters. Mirador was the first politically organized state in America, named the Kan Kingdom in ancient texts. There were 26 cities, all connected by Sacbeob (highways), which were several kilometers long, up to 40 meters wide, and two to four meters above the ground, paved with stucco, that are clearly distinguishable from the air in the most extensive virgin tropical rain forest in Mesoamerica.
The Classic period of Mesoamerican civilization corresponds to the height of the Maya civilization, and is represented by countless sites throughout Guatemala, although the largest concentration is in Petén. This period is characterized by heavy city-building, the development of independent city-states, and contact with other Mesoamerican cultures.
This lasted until around 900 AD, when the Classic Maya civilization collapsed. The Maya abandoned many of the cities of the central lowlands or were killed off by a drought-induced famine. Scientists debate the cause of the Classic Maya Collapse, but gaining currency is the Drought Theory discovered by physical scientists studying lakebeds, ancient pollen, and other tangible evidence. A series of prolonged droughts in what is otherwise a seasonal desert is thought to have decimated the Maya, who were primarily reliant upon regular rainfall.
The Post-Classic period is represented by regional kingdoms such as the Itzá and Ko'woj in the lakes area in Petén, and the Mam, Ki'ch'es, Kack'chiquel, Tz'utuh'il, Pokom'chí, Kek'chi and Chortí in the Highlands. These cities preserved many aspects of Mayan culture, but would never equal the size or power of the Classic cities.
After arriving in what was named the New World, the Spanish mounted several expeditions to Guatemala, beginning in 1519. Before long, Spanish contact resulted in an epidemic that devastated native populations. Hernán Cortés, who had led the Spanish conquest of Mexico, granted a permit to Captains Gonzalo de Alvarado and his brother, Pedro de Alvarado, to conquer this land. Alvarado at first allied himself with the Kaqchikel nation to fight against their traditional rivals the K'iche' (Quiché) nation. Alvarado later turned against the Kaqchikel, and eventually held the entire region under Spanish domination.
During the colonial period, Guatemala was an Audiencia and a Captaincy General (Capitanía General de Guatemala) of Spain, and a part of New Spain (Mexico). It extended from the modern Mexican states of Tabasco and Chiapas (including the then separate administration of Soconusco) to Costa Rica. This region was not as rich in minerals (gold and silver) as Mexico and Peru, and was therefore not considered to be as important. Its main products were sugarcane, cocoa, blue añil dye, red dye from cochineal insects, and precious woods used in artwork for churches and palaces in Spain.
The first capital was named Tecpan Guatemala, founded in July 25, 1524 with the name of Villa de Santiago de Guatemala and was located near Iximché, the Kaqchikel capital city, It was moved to Ciudad Vieja on November 22, 1527, when the Kaqchikel attacked the city. On September 11, 1541 the city was flooded when the lagoon in the crater of the Agua Volcano collapsed due to heavy rains and earthquakes, and was moved 4 miles (6 km) to Antigua, on the Panchoy Valley, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This city was destroyed by several earthquakes in 1773–1774, and the King of Spain, granted the authorization to move the capital to the Ermita Valley, named after a Catholic church to the Virgen de El Carmen, in its current location, founded in January 2, 1776.
On September 15, 1821, the Captaincy-general of Guatemala (formed by Chiapas, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Honduras) officially proclaimed its independence from Spain and its incorporation into the Mexican Empire, which was dissolved two years later. This region had been formally subject to New Spain throughout the colonial period, but as a practical matter was administered separately. All but Chiapas soon separated from Mexico after Agustín I from Mexico was forced to abdicate.
The Guatemalan provinces formed the United Provinces of Central America, also called the Central American Federation (Federacion de Estados Centroamericanos). That federation dissolved in civil war from 1838 to 1840 (See: History of Central America). Guatemala's Rafael Carrera was instrumental in leading the revolt against the federal government and breaking apart the Union. During this period a region of the Highlands, Los Altos, declared independence from Guatemala, but was annexed by Carrera, who dominated Guatemalan politics until 1865, backed by conservatives, large land owners and the church.
Guatemala's "Liberal Revolution" came in 1871 under the leadership of Justo Rufino Barrios, who worked to modernize the country, improve trade, and introduce new crops and manufacturing. During this era coffee became an important crop for Guatemala. Barrios had ambitions of reuniting Central America and took the country to war in an unsuccessful attempt to attain this, losing his life on the battlefield in 1885 against forces in El Salvador.
From 1898 to 1920, Guatemala was ruled by the dictator Manuel Estrada Cabrera, whose access to the presidency was helped by the United Fruit Company. It was during his long presidency that the United Fruit Company became a major force in Guatemala.
On July 4, 1944, Dictator Jorge Ubico Castañeda was forced to resign his office in response to a wave of protests and a general strike. His replacement, General Juan Federico Ponce Vaides, was later also forced out of office on October 20, 1944 by a coup d'état led by Major Francisco Javier Arana and Captain Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán. About 100 people were killed in the coup. The country was led by a military junta made up of Arana, Arbenz, and Jorge Toriello Garrido.
The Junta called Guatemala's first free election, which was won with a majority of 85 percent by the prominent writer and teacher Juan José Arévalo Bermejo, who had lived in exile in Argentina for 14 years. Arévalo was the first democratically elected president of Guatemala to fully complete the term for which he was elected. His "Christian Socialist" policies, inspired by the U.S. New Deal, were criticized by landowners and the upper class as "communist."
This period was also the beginning of the Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR, which was to have a considerable influence on Guatemalan history. From the 1950s through the 1990s, the U.S. government directly supported Guatemala's army with training, weapons, and money.
In 1954, Arévalo's freely elected Guatemalan successor, Jacobo Arbenz, was overthrown in a coup orchestrated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état. Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas was installed as president in 1954 and ruled until he was assassinated by a member of his personal guard in 1957. Substantial evidence points to the role of the American United Fruit Company as instrumental in this coup, as the land reforms of Jacobo Arbenz were threatening the company's interests in Guatemala and it had several direct ties to the White House and the CIA. (See United Fruit Company – History in Central America).
In the election that followed, General Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes assumed power. He is most celebrated for challenging the Mexican president to a gentleman's duel on the bridge on the south border to end a feud on the subject of illegal fishing by Mexican boats on Guatemala's Pacific coast, two of which were sunk by the Guatemalan Air Force. Ydigoras authorized the training of 5,000 anti-Castro Cubans in Guatemala. He also provided airstrips in the region of Petén for what later became the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961. Ydigoras' government was ousted in 1963 when the Air Force attacked several military bases. The coup was led by his Defense Minister, Colonel Enrique Peralta Azurdia.
In 1966, Julio César Méndez Montenegro was elected president of Guatemala under the banner "Democratic Opening." Mendez Montenegro was the candidate of the Revolutionary Party, a center-left party which had its origins in the post-Ubico era. It was during this time that rightist paramilitary organizations, such as the "White Hand" (Mano Blanca), and the Anticommunist Secret Army, (Ejército Secreto Anticomunista), were formed. Those organizations were the forerunners of the infamous "Death Squads." Military advisers from the United States Army Special Forces (Green Berets) were sent to Guatemala to train troops and help transform its army into a modern counter-insurgency force, which eventually made it the most sophisticated in Central America.
In 1970, Colonel Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio was elected president. A new guerrilla movement entered the country from Mexico, into the Western Highlands in 1972. In the disputed election of 1974, General Kjell Laugerud García defeated General Efraín Ríos Montt, a candidate of the Christian Democratic Party, who claimed that he had been cheated out of a victory through fraud. On February 4, 1976, a major earthquake destroyed several cities and caused more than 25,000 deaths. In 1978, in a fraudulent election, General Romeo Lucas García assumed power.
The 1970s saw the birth of two new guerrilla organizations, The Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP) and the Organization of the People in Arms (ORPA), who began and intensified by the end of the seventies, guerrilla attacks that included urban and rural guerrilla warfare, mainly against the military and some of the civilian supporters of the army. In 1979, the U.S. president, Jimmy Carter, ordered a ban on all military aid to the Guatemalan Army because of the widespread and systematic abuse of human rights.
In 1980, a group of indigenous K'iche' took over the Spanish Embassy to protest army massacres in the countryside. The Guatemalan government launched an assault that killed almost everyone inside as a result of a fire that consumed the building. The Guatemalan government claimed that the activists set the fire and immolated themselves. However, the Spanish ambassador, who survived the fire, disputed this claim, claiming that the Guatemalan police intentionally killed almost everyone inside and set the fire to erase traces of their acts. As a result of this incident, the government of Spain broke diplomatic relations with Guatemala.
This government was overthrown in 1982. General Efraín Ríos Montt was named President of the military junta, continuing the bloody campaign of torture, forced disappearances, and "scorched earth" warfare. The country became a pariah state internationally. Ríos Montt was overthrown by General Óscar Humberto Mejía Victores, who called for an election of a national constitutional assembly to write a new constitution, leading to a free election in 1986, which was won by Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo, the candidate of the Christian Democracy Party.
In 1982, the four guerrilla groups, EGP, ORPA, FAR and PGT, merged and formed the URNG, influenced by the Salvadoran guerrilla FMLN, the Nicaraguan FSLN and Cuba's government, in order to become stronger. As a result of the Army's "scorched earth" tactics in the countryside, more than 45,000 Guatemalans fled across the border to Mexico. The Mexican government placed the refugees in camps in Chiapas and Tabasco.
The Guatemalan Civil War ended in 1996 with a peace accord between the guerrillas and the government, negotiated by the United Nations through intense brokerage by nations such as Norway and Spain. Both sides made major concessions. The guerrilla fighters disarmed and received land to work. According to the U.N.-sponsored truth commission the ("Commission for Historical Clarification"), government forces and state-sponsored paramilitaries were responsible for over 93% of the human rights violations during the war.
During the first 10 years, the victims of the state-sponsored terror were primarily students, workers, professionals, and opposition figures, but in the last years they were thousands of mostly rural Mayan farmers and non-combatants. More than 450 Mayan villages were destroyed and over 1 million people became displaced within Guatemala or refugees. Over 200,000 people, mostly Mayan, were killed during the civil war.
In certain areas, such as Baja Verapaz, the Truth Commission considered that the Guatemalan state engaged in an intentional policy of genocide against particular ethnic groups in the Civil War. In 1999, U.S. president Bill Clinton stated that the United States was wrong to have provided support to Guatemalan military forces that took part in the brutal civilian killings.
Since the peace accords, Guatemala has witnessed successive democratic elections, most recently in 2007. The past government has signed free trade agreements with the United States and the rest of Central America through CAFTA, and other agreements with Mexico. In 2007 elections were held in Guatemala. The National Unity of Hope and its president candidate Álvaro Colom won the presidency as well as the majority of the seats in congress.
Guatemala is a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Guatemala is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Congress of the Republic. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Álvaro Colom is the President of Guatemala as of 14 January 2008
The departments include:
Guatemala is heavily centralized. Transportation, communications, business, politics, and the most relevant urban activity takes place in Guatemala City.
Guatemala City has about 2 million inhabitants within the city limits and more than 5 million within in the urban area. This is a significant percentage of the population (14 million).
Guatemala is mountainous, except for the south coastal area and the vast northern lowlands of Petén department. Two mountain chains enter Guatemala from west to east, dividing the country into three major regions: the highlands, where the mountains are located; the Pacific coast, south of the mountains; and the Petén region, north of the mountains. All major cities are located in the highlands and Pacific coast regions; by comparison, Petén is sparsely populated. These three regions vary in climate, elevation, and landscape, providing dramatic contrasts between hot and humid tropical lowlands and colder and drier highland peaks. Volcán Tajumulco, at 4,220 meters, is the highest point in the Central American states.
The rivers are short and shallow in the Pacific drainage basin, larger and deeper in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico drainage basins, which include the Polochic and Dulce Rivers, which drain into Lake Izabal, the Motagua River, the Sarstún that forms the boundary with Belize, and the Usumacinta River, which forms the boundary between Petén and Chiapas, Mexico.
Guatemala has long claimed all or part of the territory of neighbouring Belize, formerly part of the Spanish colony, and currently an independent Commonwealth Realm which recognises Queen Elizabeth II as its Head of State. Guatemala recognized Belize's independence in 1990, but their territorial dispute is not resolved. Negotiations are currently underway under the auspices of the Organization of American States and the Commonwealth of Nations to conclude it.
Guatemala's location between the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean makes it a target for hurricanes, such as Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and Hurricane Stan in October 2005, which killed more than 1,500 people. The damage was not wind related, but rather due to significant flooding and resulting mudslides.
Guatemala's highlands lie along the Motagua Fault, part of the boundary between the Caribbean and North American tectonic plates. This fault has been responsible for several major earthquakes in historic times, including a 7.5 magnitude tremor on February 4, 1976 which killed more than 25,000 people. In addition, the Middle America Trench, a major subduction zone lies off the Pacific coast. Here, the Cocos Plate is sinking beneath the Caribbean Plate, producing volcanic activity inland of the coast. Guatemala has 37 volcanoes, four of them active: Pacaya, Santiaguito, Fuego and Tacaná.
Natural disasters have a long history in this geologically active part of the world. For example, two of the three moves of the capital of Guatemala have been due to volcanic mudflows in 1541 and earthquakes in 1773.
The country has 14 ecoregions ranging from Mangrove forests, to both ocean littorals with 5 different ecosystems. Guatemala has 252 listed wetlands, including 5 lakes, 61 lagoons, 100 rivers, and 4 swamps. Tikal National Park, was the first mixed UNESCO World Heritage Site. Guatemala is a country of distinct fauna. It has some 1246 known species. Of these, 6.7% are endemic and 8.1% are threatened. Guatemala is home to at least 8681 species of vascular plants, of which 13.5% are endemic. 5.4% of Guatemala is protected under IUCN categories I-V.
According to the CIA World Fact Book, Guatemala has a population of 12,728,111 (2007 est). About 40% of the population is Ladino, also called Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and Spanish). Whites (primarily of Spanish, but also those of Italian, German, British and Scandinavian descent; includes Arabs of Lebanese and Syrian descent), make up about 16% of the population. Amerindian populations include the K'iche' 9.1%, Kaqchikel 8.4%, Mam 7.9% and Q'eqchi 6.3%. 8.6% of the population is "other Mayan", 0.2% is indigenous non-Mayan, making the indigenous community in Guatemala about 40% of the population.
There are smaller communities present. The Garífuna, who are descended from Black Africans and indigenous peoples from St. Vincent's, live mainly in Livingston and Puerto Barrios, and other blacks and mulattos. There are also Asians, mostly of Chinese descent. There is also a growing Korean community in Guatemala City and in nearby Mixco, currently numbering about 10,000. Guatemala's German population is credited with bringing the tradition of a Christmas tree to the country.
In 1900, Guatemala had a population of 885,000. Over the course of the twentieth century the population of the country grew, the fastest growth in the Western Hemisphere. The ever-increasing pattern of emigration to the U.S. has led to the growth of Guatemalan communities in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas, Rhode Island and elsewhere since the 1970s.
The Civil War forced many Guatemalans to start lives outside of their country. The majority of the Guatemalan diaspora is located in the United States with estimates ranging from 480,665 to 1,489,426. The difficulty in getting accurate counts for Guatemalans abroad is because many of them are refugee claimants awaiting determination of their status. Below are estimates for certain countries:
|USA||480,665 – 1,489,426|
|Mexico||23,529 – 190,000|
|Canada||14.256 - 34,665|
|Spain||2,491 - 5,000|
According to the CIA World Factbook, Guatemala's GDP (PPP) per capita is US$5,000; however, this developing country still faces many social problems and is among the 10 poorest countries in Latin America. The distribution of income remains highly unequal with more than half of the population below the national poverty line and just over 400,000 (3.2%) unemployed. The CIA World Fact Book considers 56.2% of the population of Guatemala to be living in poverty.
In recent years the exporter sector of nontraditional products has grown dynamically representing more than 53 percent of global exports. Some of the main products for export are fruits, vegetables, flowers, handicrafts, cloths and others.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2006 was estimated at $61.38 billion USD. The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 58.7%, followed by the agriculture sector at 22.1% (2006 est.). The industrial sector represents only 19.1% of GDP (2006 est.). The agricultural sector accounts for about one-fourth of GDP, two-fifths of exports, and half of the labor force. Organic coffee, sugar, textiles, fresh vegetables, and bananas are the country's main exports. Inflation was 5.7% in 2006.
The 1996 peace accords that ended the decades-long Civil War removed a major obstacle to foreign investment. Tourism has become an increasing source of revenue for Guatemala.
In March 2005 Guatemala's congress ratified the Dominican Republic - Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) between several Central American nations and the United States. Guatemala also has free trade agreements with Taiwan and Colombia.
Guatemala City is home to many of the nation's libraries and museums, including the National Archives, the National Library, and the Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, which has an extensive collection of Maya artifacts. There are private museums, such as the Ixchel, which focuses on textiles, and the Popol Vuh, which focuses on Maya archaeology. Both museums are housed inside the Universidad Francisco Marroquín campus. Almost each of the 329 municipalities in the country has a small museum.
Guatemala has produced many indigenous artists who follow centuries-old Pre-Columbian traditions. However, reflecting Guatemala's colonial and post-colonial history, encounters with multiple global art movements also have produced a wealth of artists who have combined the traditional so-called "primitivism" or "naive" aesthetic with European, North American, and other traditions. The Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas "Rafael Rodríguez Padilla" is the country's leading art school, and several leading indigenous artists, also graduates of that school, are in the permanent collection of the Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno in the capital city. Contemporary Guatemalan artists who have gained reputations outside of Guatemala include Dagoberto Vásquez, Luis Rolando Ixquiac Xicara, Carlos Mérida, Aníbal López, Roberto González Goyri, and Elmar René Rojas.
The Guatemala National Prize in Literature is a one-time only award that recognizes an individual writer's body of work. It has been given annually since 1988 by the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
Miguel Ángel Asturias won the literature Nobel Prize in 1967. Among his famous books is "El Señor Presidente", a novel based on the government of Manuel Estrada Cabrera.
The Music of Guatemala comprises a number of styles and expressions. The Maya had an intense musical practice, as is documented by iconography. Guatemala was also one of the first regions in the New World to be introduced to European music, from 1524 on. Many composers from the Renaissance, baroque, classical, romantic, and contemporary music styles have contributed works of all genres. The marimba is the national instrument that has developed a large repertoire of very attractive pieces that have been popular for more than a century.
The Historia General de Guatemala has published a series of CDs of historical Music of Guatemala, in which every style is present, from the Maya, colonial period, independent and republican eras to current times. There are many contemporary music groups in Guatemala from Caribbean music, salsa, punta (Garifuna influenced), Latin pop, Mexican regional, and mariachi. There is also a vibrant scene for what is known in the Hispanic world as rock en Español (Spanish rock).
Although Spanish is the official language, it is not universally spoken among the indigenous population, nor is it often spoken as a second language. Twenty-one distinct Mayan languages are spoken, especially in rural areas, as well two non-Mayan Amerindian languages, Xinca, an indigenous language, and Garifuna, an Arawakan language spoken on the Caribbean coast. According to Decreto Número 19-2003, twenty-three languages are recognized as National Languages.
As first and second language, Spanish is spoken by 93% of the population. The Peace Accords signed in December 1996 provide for the translation of some official documents and voting materials into several indigenous languages (see summary of main substantive accords) and mandate the provision of interpreters in legal cases for non-Spanish speakers. The accord also sanctioned bilingual education in Spanish and indigenous languages. It is common for indigenous Guatemalans to learn or speak between two to five of the nation's other languages, including Spanish.
50–60% of the population is Catholic, 40% Protestant, and 1% follow the indigenous Mayan faith. Catholicism was the official religion during the colonial era. However, Protestantism has increased markedly in recent decades. More than one third of Guatemalans are Protestant, chiefly Evangelicals and Pentecostals. It is common for traditional Mayan practices to be incorporated into Catholic ceremonies and worship, a phenomenon known as syncretism. The practice of traditional Mayan religion is increasing as a result of the cultural protections established under the peace accords. The government has instituted a policy of providing altars at every Mayan ruin found in the country so that traditional ceremonies may be performed there.
There are also small communities of Jews estimated between 1200 and 2000, Muslims (1200), Buddhists at around 9000 to 12000, and members of other faiths and those who do not profess any faith. There are many atheists in the country, but the subject is not openly discussed and no reliable statistics are available for this population.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints currently has over 215,000 members in Guatemala, accounting for approximately 1.65% of the country's estimated population in 2008. The first member of the church in Guatemala was baptized in 1948. Membership grew to 10,000 by 1966, and 18 years later, when the Guatemala City Temple was dedicated in 1984, membership had risen to 40,000. By 1998 membership had quadrupled again to 164,000. The church continues to grow in Guatemala; it has announced and begun the construction of the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple, the church's second temple in the country.
The government runs a number of public elementary and secondary-level schools. These schools are free, though the cost of uniforms, books, supplies, and transportation makes them less accessible to the poorer segments of society and significant numbers of poor children do not attend school. Many middle and upper-class children go to private schools. The country also has one public university (USAC or Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala), and 9 private ones (see List of universities in Guatemala). USAC was one of the first universities in America. It was officially declared a university on January 31, 1676 by royal command of King Charles II of Spain. Only 69.1% of the population aged 15 and over are literate, the lowest literacy rate in Central America. Although it has the lowest literacy rate, Guatemala is expected to change this within the next 10 years.
In the 1950s, medical anthropologists such as Richard N. Adams, Benjamin D. Paul, and Lois Paul wrote monographs dedicated to the Maya medical beliefs and practices. Richard N. Adams, albeit secondary to his work, described the chasm between Maya medical beliefs and practices and Western science, and showed why Mayans rejected projects applied by the Institute of Nutrition for Central America and Panama (INCAP). His work is seen as setting the stage for four decades for medical anthropology in Guatemala by diagnosing the communication breakdown caused by “ignorance of local beliefs and practices.” Many of those once affiliated with INCAP have since published works on various topics of interest to medical anthropology in Guatemala.
In the 20th century, several things came to undermine the indigenous way of practicing medicine. First, the religious persecution first administered by Catholic Action, then Protestant evangelical religions, and finally by Catholic Charismatic resulted in the prohibition of their members from consulting traditional healers. Secondly, certain elements of Guatemalan society systematically killed the upper rank of the Maya priests. Third, starting in the 1980s, the Guatemalan national health care system, based heavily on Western medicine, began to suppress traditional healers by banning them from practicing. While the health care system made efforts to train local midwives, some persons accused those programs of not giving culturally appropriate, high-quality services.
The disparity between Western biomedicine and traditional care has created tensions, i.e., NGO programs primarily focus today on those with higher education levels—those who speak Spanish—and rivalries hamper communication between Western-trained health care providers and traditional practitioners. Additionally, the medical professionals of Western biomedicine neglect the social experience of the patients, as well as the social construction of disease. Studies conducted in Mexico, Guatemala, and other rural areas support the position that many Western biomedical practitioners shun remote areas either because they cannot earn enough money there or because they discriminate against ethnic minorities.
Today, patients must choose between the two systems based on the complex conditions surrounding the ailment and decide which medical system most likely will provide a cure for their ailment.
In Guatemala there are six national newspapers, two national television news programs, two national cable news programs, and many local and national radio news progams. Among the most known news programs in radio there are Patrullaje Informativo y Radio Sonora. The newspapers are: Prensa Libre,Al Día,, La Hora, Nuestro Diario, and . The news programs on TV are Noti7 y Telecentro Trece; and those on cable are  and .
•Ileana Alamilla •Ana Carolina Alpírez •Francisco Ancheyta •Manuel Ayau  •Federico Bauer •Karen Cancinos •Carlos Castañaza •Alvaro Castellanos Howell •Ana Beatríz Colmenares •Sam Colop •Marta Yolanda Díaz-Durán •Carolina Escobar •Dina Fernández  •Luis Figueroa •Juan Luis Font •Mario Fuentes Destarac •Mario David García •Sylvia Gereda •José Raúl González •Maricela Herrera •Gonzalo Marroquín Godoy •Luis Marroquín Godoy •Oscar Clemente Marroquín Godoy •Eduardo Mayora •César Montes •Marielos Monzón •Luis Morales Chúa •Ramón Parellada •Jorge Jacobs •Alfred Kaltschmitt •Carroll de Rodríguez •Héctor Salvatierra •Haroldo Sánchez •Haroldo Shetemul •Mario Antonio Sandoval •Armando de la Torre •Pedro Trujillo •Mirja Valdéz •José Eduardo Valdizán •Felipe Valenzuela •Doménica Velásquez •Irmalicia Velásquez •José Rubén Zamora •Adrián Zapata •Estuardo Zapeta .Giovanni Fratti
Hugo Arce, Manuel José Arce, Pepe Estrada, Ramón Blanco Castañeda, José Calderón Salazar, Jorge Carpio Nicolle, Alvaro Contreras Vélez, Alejandro Córdoba, Pedro Julio García, Salvador Girón Collier, Marina Marroquín Milla, Clemente Marroquín Rojas, Antonio Nájera Saravia, Héctor Ramírez, Mario Sandoval Figueroa, David Vela Salvatierra, José Eduardo Zarco
|Institute for Economics and Peace ||Global Peace Index||111 out of 144|
|United Nations Development Programme||Human Development Index||122 out of 182|
|Transparency International||Corruption Perceptions Index||84 out of 180|
|World Economic Forum||Global Competitiveness Report||80 out of 133|
|New Economics Foundation||Happy Planet Index||4 out of 143|
|Pacific Ocean||Pacific Ocean|| Honduras
|Government||Constitutional democratic republic|
|Currency||quetzal (GTQ), US dollar (USD), others allowed|
|Area||total: 108,890 km2
water: 460 km2
land: 108,430 km2
|Population||12,293,545 (July 2006 est.)|
|Language||Spanish 60%, Amerindian languages 40% (23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)|
|Religion||Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs and Atheist.|
|Electricity||115-230V/60Hz (USA plug)|
Guatemala is a country in the Central America region of North America. It has borders to Mexico in the north/northwest, to Belize in the northeast, to Honduras in the southeast, to El Salvador in the south. It also has a Pacific coastline to the southwest, and a tiny piece of Caribbean coastline to the east.
Guatemala has a rich and distinctive culture from the long mix of elements from Spain and the native Maya people. This diverse history and the natural beauty of the land has created a destination rich in interesting and scenic sites. Consider reviewing also the expat site Central America Forum 
It is difficult to travel in the more remote areas during the rainy season between mid-May to mid-October and into mid-November in the north.
The elaborate ceremonies in Antigua the week leading up to Easter are a highlight.
The months of March and April are very hot especially in the low lying areas such as the pacific coastal plain.
The local currency is the Quetzal which is named after the national bird, which has ancient and mythic connotations even today. One US dollar is equivalent to 8.1 Quetzales. US dollars are widely accepted and can be exchanged in most small towns. ATMs can be found in the major towns but do not expect to find them in every tourist spot. It is fairly easy to find your self in a town without an ATM or a place to change money.
Do not expect to be able to easily exchange travelers checks to Guatemala. You might find a few places willing to accept checks issued by American Express but all other types are universally turned down. Amazingly even major banks in Guatemala City do not accept VISA travelers checks.
Newspapers and Magazines for tourists:
Guatemala's main airport, La Aurora International Airport (GUA), is near Guatemala City. International flights arrive mostly from other Central American countries and North America. The airport is currently undergoing modernizing reconstruction. It is now a glass-and-concrete edifice with modern shops and duty-frees that you might expect in any large city. Food options are still limited, however, although construction is not complete.
Guatemala's secondary airport is situated in Flores, Petén. This small airport receives flights from a small number of close destinations including Belize, Mexico City and Guatemala City.
It is sometimes cheaper to fly into Cancun and take buses through Belize or to fly into Mexico City and then take a low-cost airlines flight on Aviacsa  for around $100 USD to Tapachula which is the Mexico/Guatemala border. Now Interjet is flying for $120 from Cancun and Mexico City to Guatemala City as well. Spirit Airlines offers great ticket prices from a number of US destinations (normally connecting through Miami/Ft. Lauderdale) - recently priced at $166 one-way to Guatemala City.
The small, three-wheeled tuk-tuk is a common vehicle providing local taxi service. It can carry up to three passengers. You will need to negotiate your fare with the driver before you start, because they generally don't have meters. The tuk-tuk originates from India, and can be found in many developing countries. The name refers to the sound of the motorcycle engine powering the vehicle.
Belize: Tourist buses from Belize City to Flores or Guatemala
City, A regular bus goes from Belize City to the border town of
Benque Viejo, passing through San Ignacio and Xunantunich. From
Benque you get a tazi to the border for around 3 belizean dollars
and from there a colectivo to Flores or Guatemala. Walk across the
bridge to the Colectivo van headquarters to get better deals.
El Salvador: San Salvador, Santa Ana
Honduras: Copan, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, Tegucigalpa
Costa Rica: San José
Panama: Panama City
Mexico: Tapachula, Palenque, Chetumal, Tulum, Cancun, Mexico City
Tica Bus  is a bus company that has newer buses and mainly travels between Central American countries with limited stops.
It's hard to miss the colorfully-decorated buses that crowd the streets of major cities and highways of Guatemala. These are chicken buses, or camionetas in Spanish, and are a common form of travel for Guatemalans and a travel adventure for tourists. They are much cheaper than tourist vans or taxis (example: a 10km drive from Antigua to the countryside costs Q2.75 as of December 2005). They are usually very crowded, with three people squeezed into seats designed to seat two North American children, and more people standing in the aisles. The bus itself is frequently a used North American school bus; the "Blue Bird" and "Ford" logos are clearly visible. In addition to the driver there is usually a conductor standing in the door. The conductor collects fares, and from time to time jumps out to direct the bus through a blind intersection or around a tight turn. On the highways, the chicken bus drivers are aggressive, not hesitating to overtake in the face of oncoming traffic. Riding these buses on the steep highways of the Western Highlands is especially harrowing, but may be the most quintessential Guatemalan experience there is.
Bus conductors may sometimes charge out of country tourists more than the going rate. If you look to see what other travelers are paying you can usually avoid this problem, however, they often charge you the same as everyone else. Sending a message to the Guatemala tourism department "Inguat"  will let them know of this problem.
You can board a chicken bus almost anywhere along its route. If you put out your arm, it will stop. You board and find a space to sit or stand. The conductor will come back to you after the bus is underway, and collect your fare. You need to recognize where your stop is, and move to the door in time. You ask the bus to stop, more or less wherever you want to get off.
By car or bus, airplane to the Peten.
Many regular intercity buses.
Tourist Shuttles are 10 times more expensive than regular buses (including intercity buses).
Guatemala City: Try the local trolley, Chiltepe Tours (www.chiltepe.com), departing at 10:00 and 13:00 hours from hotels in zone 10, visiting the historic downtown of Guatemala City, with one stop at the National Palace, and one at Museo Popol Vuh. Duration, approximately 3 hours.
Be leery of ayudantes (the bus helpers hanging out of the front door yelling) charging foreigners extra. Listen to what others are paying and insist that you pay the same amount.
Spanish is the official language of Guatemala, and the most commonly spoken. Over twenty indigenous languages are still spoken throughout, but many of the Maya people have at least a working knowledge of basic Spanish as well. For the Garifuna people in Livingston, Garifuna and English are the main languages (but Spanish is spoken as well).
The most familiar form of Spanish spoken among good friends is the "tú/vos" form, but varies between regions. It is considered rude and very informal if used with someone that you do not know. As a tourist, it is safer to stick with the "usted" form. However, don't be surprised if some homestay families and some language teachers jump right into using the "tu/vos" form. If they do, you may respond in kind.
Guatemala is rich in natural beauty and travel opportunities, it's a country that offers so much to those willing to step off the beaten track for a little while.
Antigua Guatemala is often regarded as the travellers hub, a crumbling, picture-perfect central american town ringed by volcanoes. From here you can take a hike up Volcano Pacaya, take a bus to the bustling market of Chichicastenango, or simply sip some coffee in a street-side cafe and watch the world go by.
Lake Atitlan (or Lago de Atitlán) is another frequent stop on any visitors itinerary. A volcano-rimmed lake with plenty of backpacker hostels and Mayan villages that dot the shores.
Flores in Guatemala's wild north is a tourist friendly island in the middle of Lake Petén Itzá. From here you can take a bus ride to one of best preserved Mayan ruins in the world, Tikal. Howler monkeys and dense jungle make walking around the ruins an adventure in itself.
The national currency is Quetzal(es). The rate of change is approximately 8.22 Quetzales for 1 US Dollar and 11.63 for 1 €uro (August 2009). It is common to use dollars in tourist areas. You will most likely have difficulties in changing other currencies than US Dollars, but euros are becoming increasingly common.
It is common to bargain for most purchases in the open air market. Though you may be able to bargain in other places, be aware that chain-owned shops have fixed prices (you are no more likely to bargain in a Guatemalan Radio Shack than an American one).
These are some characteristically Guatemalan things you might consider buying here:
Typical breakfast: Frijoles (black beans), eggs and bread. And coffee of course.
The type of food really depends on how much you want to spend and what type of place you want to spend it at. You can get almost any type of food at the main tourist locations (Antigua, Guatemala City, etc.). In the aldeas (small towns) your choices will obviously be limited to what has been listed above. Guatemalan food differs from Mexican food as it is a lot less spicy, do not expect chili, fajitas or jalapenos.
Guatemalans usually dress down when they go out.
See Staying Healthy section below. You will mostly get a tissue if you order a bottled drink to clean the bottle. If you don't get one, it's always better for you to clean the bottle.
All Coca-Cola and Pepsi type products are available plus many products from local soft drink manufacturers.
Popular Guatemalan beers are Gallo (lager, by far the most popular with Guatemalans), Victoria, Brahva (a light pilsner style), Moza (dark bock) Cabro, Monte Carlo (premium), and Dorada. Don't be surprised if you get salt and lemon with your beer. It's a custom to put some salt on the toes of the bottle, and screw out the lemon in the beer. Sometimes they also drink it with V8, which is a vegetable juice. Then it's called 'michelada'.
Guatemala produces a number of rums, including the superb Ron Zacapa Centenario (Aged up to 30 years).
Tequila also is a very popular drink in Guatemala.
You will likely find cheap hotels in every town or village in Guatemala. There are also many high quality hotels for those seeking additional comfort and amenities. See the individual destination articles for hotel listings.
Guatemala is a great place to learn Spanish. The prices are low, and Guatemalan Spanish is considered pleasing. Antigua has the highest number of Spanish schools and is also the most popular place for tourists. But if studying Spanish is your main concern, you might be better off elsewhere, because you can actually go around in Antigua for a whole day without hearing anything but English.
Because of this, many language students head towards San Pedro la Laguna, seated by Lake Atitlan, where a wide range of language schools also offer Spanish language courses (some quite inexpensive). But as in Antigua the quality of the lessons might not be up to what expect, so ask around.
Instead Try Quetzaltenango which is considered now (2005) as the educative tourist destination of Guatemala. Another option is to look among other less touristed cities and villages for other quality schools.
There are various volunteering opportunities in Guatemala as well.
NEVER EVER take photos of children without permission. Some Guatemalans are extremely wary of this, and will assume you are a kidnapper (even if children aren't theirs). Guatemala has had many problems with children being sold or kidnapped and put up for adoption on the black market. Of course, this doesn't include a few children mixed in with many adults at a distance. This occurs mainly on the inner Guatemalan villages. In the major cities people are somewhat more open towards picture taking, but don't overdo it.
It is dangerous to travel between cities after dark. Doing so significantly increases your risk of being in a car accident or being the victim of an armed robbery.
One of the best things about Guatemala is the abundance of natural beauty and numerous treks. Some of these are notorious for robberies (ex. Volcan de Agua, trails around Lago de Atitlan, Volcan de Pacaya). Always ask around about the situation before embarking blindly. Inguat, locals, and fellow travellers are safe bets for information. Travelling in groups during daylight sometimes decreases the risk, but not always.
Traffic can be dangerous. You will encounter many 1 lane roads (1 lane each way) and drivers are apt to swerve back and forth, avoiding potholes and bumps along the way. There are also various multiple lane highways. Traffic in Guatemala City and surrounding metropolitan areas during rush hour is very slow, but general driving everywhere is usually very fast (average speeds of up to 60 mph in some city roads).
Guatemala has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world. Most tourists travel to Guatemala without any serious problems. Nonetheless, travelers should take some extra precautions when in Guatemala. If mugged, carjacked, or approached by armed individuals, cooperate. Do not make any sudden movements, and give them whatever belongings or money they are demanding. Tourists have been shot and killed for resisting muggers. Do not go to areas known to be hotbeds of narcotrafficking activity (ie: some parts of the Peten), and do not go to the most dangerous neighborhoods in Guatemala City (ie: zones 3, 6, 18, and 21). Be careful in Zone 1 in Guatemala City, especially after dark, and do not stay in hostels there. Using the slightly more expensive hostels in Zone 10 or Zone 13 (near the airport) is a much better idea. Do not use buses in Guatemala City, as they are frequently robbed by gangs. Instead, radio-dispatched taxis (ie: Taxi Amarillo) are a safer way to get around the city.
Although some say that travellers should always carry a bit of extra cash and be prepared to bribe a few police officers, most tourists will have no reason to give bribes to anyone. The most likely situations in which you might have to bribe police would be if you're driving a car or riding a motorcycle and are stopped for fictitious violations of traffic rules. Most European/North Americans find it immoral but its much easier to spend 50 Quetzales and avoid the headaches than to be harassed by the police. Phrases such as "I'm sorry officer. Is there any way we can resolve this right now?" work well. Do not offer bribes directly to an officer because it is illegal and you could actually end up in more trouble.
Keep any important documents or items (passports, wallets, etc.) in your front pocket or close to your person.
Check the list of recent crimes against foreigners. 
Only drink purified water (Agua Salvavidas).
CDC  states that malaria risk exists in rural areas at altitudes lower than 1,500 meters, with no risk in Antigua or Lake Atitlán. Preventative anti-malarial medication can and should be purchased (for a low cost) ahead of visiting malaria-endemic countries. Contact your physician.
Dengue fever is endemic throughout Guatemala.
Hepatitis A&B vaccinations are recommended.
Be careful with the hygiene.
Address people you don't know in a formal manner (Señor, Señora, Usted), and greet people in the following way:
You'll encounter this in more suburban, rural areas. Native Guatemalans are raised to greet strangers formally.
Guatemala's international calling code is 502. There are no area codes. Phone numbers all have eight digits. On September 18, 2004, the phone system switched from seven to eight digits, and there is a scheme for adding specific digits to the front of seven-digit numbers (WTNG.info description ).
The phone system isn't great, but it works. Tourists can call abroad from call centers, where you pay by the minute. It is also easy to purchase a calling card to use at public pay phones. The phones there do not accept money, so to use a public phone on the street you must purchase a telephone card. Typically, the cost is around 8 quetzals for a 10 min call to North America. Cell phones are quite cheap and calling to the US through one can get as low as $0.08 a min. If you are planning to stay for a while and plan to use the phone, you should consider buying a cheap prepaid phone. Wireless nation-wide internet access for laptops is also available as a service from some companies. Telefonica has good coverage with their PCMCIA EV-DO cards.
The post system is traditionally not reliable, but your post cards usually get through. A stamp for Europe is Q5. There are; however, many other alternative companies to the federal mail system that are reliable, though frequently somewhat pricey.
Internet access is widely available. Even most of the more remote areas have some type of internet access available. Many larger areas also have WiFi. All of the Camperos chicken/pizza restaurants (which are numerous) offer free WiFi, as well as many other restaurants and cafes. Some hotels may also offer computer banks with internet access. Just ask and you eventually will find some sort of free access.
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Part of the Comparative law and justice Wikiversity Project
Guatemala is located in Central America, south of Mexico. Other neighbors to the country include, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras. On the west of the country is the Pacific Ocean and on the east of the country the Caribbean Sea. A river called the Motauga River separates the northern and southern mountains, it flows towards the east and flows into the Omoa Bay off the Gulf of Honduras. The two mountain chains cross the country from west to east, it divides the country into three major regions. The total landmass is considered to be slightly smaller than the state of Tennessee, the land has been measured to be about 107,159 sq km. The climate in Guatemala is unconsistant, the costal regions and the northeastern parts are usually at 68°F or 20°C, these temperatures can also rise as high as 99°F (37°C). These temperatures usually rapidly decrease during the night and are good enough to just carry a light jacket. Closer to the center, such as Guatemala City, the rainy season begins in May and ends in September, rains throughout the day but clears up in the afternoons and evenings.
Guatemala City is not only the largest city of Guatemala, but also all of Central America. It's population is made up of Native Americans and ladinos,latin for latinos, but also includes small groups descended from European immigrants. The major ethnic groups in Guatemala are the Mayans and the ladinos, those of mixed Native American and European Spanish descent. The Spainish descent, came from Spanish colonists and later European immigrants. Percentages of ethnic groups:Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish) and European 59.4%, K'iche 9.1%, Kaqchikel 8.4%, Mam 7.9%, Q'eqchi 6.3%, other Mayan 8.6%. Guatemala's official languages include, 60% of the population used the language of Spanish, 40% of the population use Amerindian languages or official languages such as: Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca.
Roman Catholicism is traditionally the major religion of Guatemala, but the Native Americans have continued to practice their traditional religions, either separately or combined with Catholic beliefs. Protestant has increased to now being 30 percent of the population, it was introduced in the mid-1800's .
Economic development per capita is 1,670, and 4,000 being the average annual income. The key exports of Guatemala are coffee, sugar, bananas, and cardamom. They also export products such as fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, processed foods, textiles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, plastics, cosmetics, rubber and paper products, beef, and petroleum. It has been stated that exports have totaled $4.5 billion in 2007, the United States being the principal market. The United States, Mexico, as well as other countries have been Guatemala's principal imports of products such as automobiles, machinery, other manufactured goods, food, and petroleum.
The infant mortality rate has been estimated to range about 29 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2009. In 2007, the literacy rate for citizen over the age of 15 was at 73% of the population, 68% were females while 79% were males who were able to read. The average educational attainment is 10 years, usually males attend school for 11 years while females attend school for 10 years.
Since July of 2009, Guatemala's population is about 13,276,517, which includes 39% being infants up to the age of 14, 56.8% of citizens of ages 15-64, and 3.8% that consists of people 65 years or older.In 2009, the country's birth rate is 28 per 1,000 people, while death rates are 5 for every 1,000 people.The average life expectancy is 69 years for males and 72 for females.
Guatemala has an increase risk of disases that may include: Bacterial Diarrhea,Leptospirosis, found in water, Hepatitiis A, Typhoid Fever, Dengue fever, and Malaria, are both caused by an infected mosquito bite.
On September 15, 1821 Guatemala declared their independence from Spain along with other Central American coloies. On November 13, 1960 military coup of young officers tried to overthrow General Miguel Idigoras Fuentes, leaders of this military were lieutenant Turcios-lima and Yon Sosa. Since their plan fail they ran off to the mountains and pleaded help from Fidel Castro and their ideologies became Marxist. This group became a guerilla movement, giving the start of the civil war. This bloody civil war costs more than 200,000 lives, making the Mayan indigenous the most suffered in such conflict. Many times their villages were wiped off and men and women were massacred. The years most violent in Guatemala was when General Efraín Ríos Montt became dictator in 1982-1983. He was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of indigenous people and destroyed the entire indigenous villages. He forced a million citizens to flee their nation.
A Mesoamerican civilization known as the Mayans, were located in Guatemala from 300-900A.D. They were known for their written language and greatly developed architecure, music, mathematics, calendar and some knowledge of astronomy. Pedro de Alvarado was sent to invade the land in 1524; Guatemala later gain it's independence in 1821.
Guatemala is a civil-law country, brought here by the Spaniards who were influenced by France. Its government has been known to be a constitutional democratic republic, in which contains the three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. Guatemala is based on it's Constitution written in May of 1985, suspended in May of 1993 and reinstated in June of 1993. The Guatemalan government was being controlled by the military, after the Constitution was written the government was returned to civilan rule.
Here, government officals attain their positions by popular votes given by citizens. The Congress is a unicameral Congress of the Republic or Congreso de la Republica in which consists of 158 representatives who are elected by popular vote to only serve a four-year term. The executive branch, is the president who is elected by popular vote and is only allowed to serve a four-year term to avoid any possible dictatorship. The judicial branch in Guatemala, has it's highest court called Corte de Constitucionalidad, it consists of five judges having five-year terms; also the Supreme Court of Justice has a five-year term with 13 members involved.
Laws are made by first a presentation and three readings in three separated sessions by Congress. The bill is later passed on the executive branch for the president's signiture and publication, if after 15 days the bill has not been vetoed, it is automatically sent for publication. If the president vetoes a bill, then it may still be passed by having two-thirds majority of Congress and then it will be sent to the Official Gazette, for publication.
Elections are conducted locally, schools, church halls, and other public buildings are opened to the public and set up as stations to vote. Voting is manditory for both men and women citizens, they must be at least 18 years old and older, also they are required to be literate; for nonliterate citizens, voting is optional. The president is elected by direct vote, but cannot be re-elected."The cabinet resigns at the end of each year so that the president may choose a new cabinet. The president, who is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, appoints most military officers, the 22 governors, and other important public and diplomatic officials". Guatemala has inquisitorial trials.
When citizens disagree with the outcome of the judge in charge of the case, they appeal it to the "Sala de apelaciones" equivalent to the Appeal Courts.
Guatemala uses fines as a way of punishment, these fines are given relevant to the offense and not to the offense's resources. As of 1996 corporal punishment is used mostly by tribes and are done in public, the most offenders will recieve are whippings on their shirtless backs. This is allowed because it is known to be part of the Mayan culture, the tribes own traditional punishment, a person who is carrying a gun for example will recieve these whippings by his or her tribe. After the whippings, the offender is handed over to the National Civil Police.
Although crime rates in Guatemala are extremely high, punishment has low numbers due to cases not throughly investigated, so many criminals are most likely to get away with crimes .Yet with this being true the prisons are very old and are full, having about 40 offenders in a cell that is measured to be 30 square yards. The violence in these prisons are horrible because two rival gangs are constantly fighting. It has become such a huge problem that even new inmates are scared they will be attacked by their enemy, many refuse to go to the shared toilets at night so instead use plastic bags and dispose of it in the morning. These prisons are in extremely bad shape but the ones whom seem to suffer the most are the prison guards because they are under paid, working 12-hour shifts for 8 days in a row, recieve bad food, and is the reason why most of these guards are corrupt. In April 2006 offenders who commit misdemeanors are placed in Cárcel de Delitos Menores or Prison for Less Serious Offenders, this prison holds about 250 inmates.
From 1983-1996 the dealth penalty was not practiced until September of 1996 two prisoners were executed by a firing squad. This was put all over television and had a harsh impact on society, that as a result lethal injection was the new way of Capital punishment. In 1998 the first lethal injection was use and shown on television, this again had a negative response from viewers and so the government stated that executions would no longer be shown. Records show that execution was not done in 2008.
In Guatemala, the judge makes the decision of whether or not the defendant is guilty and if so what the punishment will be. They also may ask the defendant questions and then he or she must answer. Lawyers either take the side of the defendant or can prosecute, they talk to the judge. The plaintiff is the aggrevated person or victim of the case and the defense or defendant is the person accused in the case. Witnesses are also involved in court cases and are used to state facts on what or who they saw. No jurors are used in Guatemala.
The judges' role is to listen to the case and apply the punishment; they begin their career as lawyers and then are selected by the Supreme Court to become judges. Lawyers are also responsible for notaries, wills, divorce and marriage. They are educated in different universities than other professions. Lawyers graduate after completing upon different academic studies and is required to have an internship at buffete popular; this means an internship at a public defense office.
There is also a place where legal counsels respond to complaints made by indigenous women who have suffered some sort of violence, this place is called Defensoría de la Mujer Indígena or Office of Indigenous Women's Defense.
Like the United States, there is a presumption of innocence of the defendant during trial and may speak once he or she is asked questions by the judge. The country does not have social insurance but does have punitive damages.
Courts are organized in hierarchy, beginning with Juzgados de Paz. This is the lowest of the courts and tries to peacefully resolve cases. If this is not available then the case may be appealed and sent to one of three courts, Juzgado de Trabajo where cases must relate to work issues, Juzgado Civil, cases are related to civil issues, and Juzgado Criminal where cases must be related to criminal issues. The case may be appealled and be sent to a higher court called Salas de Apealationes or Appeals Court. If a person does not agree with the decision made by the judge, you may appeal your case and it will be sent to the Courte Suprema or Supreme Court. The last court is called the Corte Constitutional which deals with cases where a persons constitutional rights have been violated.
The police in Guatemala are called Policía Nacional Civil or the National Civil Police. They are set up in a hierarchy that begins with Dirección General de la Policía Nacional Civil or Director General who is the highest rank. This person has a five different departments that help him with his responsibilities. These departments are the General Department, Private Department, Executive Department, Legal Assistance Department and Social Communication Department.
In order to become apart of the National Civil Police, canidates must go through the police academy; this is a basic training course. "Entry level posts forp olice officers of this force are governed by a ministerial agreement on the invitation for applications, which specifies eligibility requirements, disqualification and reasons for expulsion from the training program." Future police officers, must also go through a process of background check by the Verification Unit of the National Civil Police Academy and also by the Office of Professional Responsibility. These future officers must also sign and agree a declaration of integrity to the Office of Personnel and the General Inspectorate.
The weaknesses by the Guatemalan police have to do with the lack of training of many officers. They also lack the amount of schooling, and equipment, they are not required to having follow up trainings. As of March of 2006,a survey called the National Urban Survey on Corruption and Transparency found Guatemala to be the third highest. This is actually a positive outcome because in previous years the country has ranked first in corruption.
The military in prior years was to keep the peace and keep the territory integrated, the last president and actual president both adquire the military to work alongside with the national civil police to reduce the high indices number of criminal activity.
Crime is very common in Guatemala, it is a very serious problem because of its increasingly high rate. It is one of the highest in Latin America. Usually crimes can be of assault, theft, armed robbery, carjacking, rape, kidnapping,and murder. Police officers are linked to the high crime rate; they are inexperienced and not paid enough. As a result, criminals know there is a high chance they will be able to get away with any crime. Traverlers are not safe from any of these crimes, some can fall into the trap of having a flat tire. Citizens could well be overseen as being "good citizens" by coming around and "helping" the victim to push the car to the side of the road, and then steal the travelers valuables with or without their knowledge. The reports of homicide are extremely high,just in 2008 it has been reported to be 40 murders a week in the country's capital alone. It is reported that 13,721 thefts and robberies in Guatemala in 2001, 3,110 crimes had resulted in death. It is known that in 2009, stolen vehicles have risen 46% since 2008, it is believed that delinquent gangs steal autos to later sell them or take them to chop shops. In 2007, 225 cases of kidnapping have been reported, they have become sucessful using methods; 1) they use poverty towards their advantage by making an agreement with the child's parents and saying they will become a guardian to the child, later will ask the parents to sign a legal document giving up responsibilties towards the child, 2)the kidnapper will violently grab the child and force them to leave with them. Reported sexual assault cases in 2006, have been recorded to be 581 cases just in the nation's capital alone.These numbers may have an effect based on having about more than half of their crime being un-reported. Many victims do not report crimes due to the thought of it being irrelevent to report them, think it is not serious enough to be reported, or fear of some sort of retaliation.
In 2005, 1,200 citizens were interviewed, within this group about 35% of them believed the biggest problem faced in Guatemala is violence and crime. While 7% believed the biggest issue was the corruption in their own government. The public also do not concur with the ridiculous bails that are given to known criminals. In a way, citizens do not blame the judge for giving them a low amount for bail, because judges are usually given some sort of threat to either their family or of their own life. In addition, they also stated the country is in need of urgent changes in the justice system. They believe that in court, judges should disguise themselves in the audience or remain anonymous. When considering the punishment of crimes committed with weapons especially guns, many agreed that criminals should be punished more severly. Punishments such as being thrown into prison without any chance of bail, so that future criminals will think twice about doing any crime. They will know the consequences of going straight to prison without bail. Guatemala is a democratic republic in which catergorizes under civil law, the courts have equal but seperate powers.
Marriages are usually performed by Alcalde Muncipal, local civil officers, or by a lawyer. If a foreigner desires to marry; he or she must present a valid passport and birth certificate. If previously married, he or she must present a divorce decree or death certificate that must be authenticated by a Guatemalan consul. It must also be published in the newspaper about the wedding for two weeks to make sure there are no issues. People interested in adopting or want to put their child up for adoption must contact the Consejo Nacional de Adopciones(CNA) or the national advice of adoptions; a judge from Niñez y Adolescencia or childhood and adolesence, has to declare the child to be adoptable. A newborn child may be put up for adoption after evidence of the family's uncapability of proper care and can be adopted at six weeks. The CNA chooses the parents whom best interest the child, giving preference to Guatemalan families if it is not aplicable then it becomes an international adoption.
Women whom would like to re-marry must wait 300 days after they have officially become divorced, if not they will face a fine of 100-500 quetzales (about $13-60 US dollars); this is not applicable to men.
Inheritances are determined by a will, in cases where the will does not exist there are intestados this means that sn immediate family member pleads to the land registry to declare themself as the inheritor. People will attend a court hearing with the presence of a judge and their lawyers, to make decisions on responsibilites on the children and/or family. In Guatemala, elders are not treated in a particular way due to their age but are treated as adults by the legal system. Juveniles on the other hand, are treated similarily as the United States, they will often place them in reformatorios which are training schools.
Social inequality can be found in Guatemala, it has been known since the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, the Spaniards discriminated against the indigenous people. Now a days, discrimination exsists not only on the indigenous but also depending upon a person's gender, where they live, and their socioeconomic status. Gender inequality is also found, reports state that until the year 1946 women were finally allowed to vote but it was not until the year 2007 that women held seats in the Senate. In agriculture only 18% of women have been given employment opportunity from 1995-2003 while 50% of men were given employment.
The fundamental rights protected by the legal system is freedom of religion, freedom of expression, the right to life, and local motion. In Guatemala, all citizen have the same rights and obligations but discriminate against the indiginous people; whom are the Mayans.
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Declension of Guatemala (type kala)
declension of Guatemala
possessives of Guatemala
|Declension of Guatemala|
|Other words with the same declension|