Guatemala. The newly elected President Alvaro Arz˙ took
office on January 1. Arz˙ belongs to the National
Development Party (Partido de Avanzada Nacional, PAN). One
of his counter-candidates was Rigoberta Mench˙, recipient of
the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize.
Countryaah.com, Arz˙ started intensive work to stop the civil war since
the 1960s. On March 20, representatives of the government
and the URNG guerrillas signed a ceasefire agreement. The
war had then harvested about 100,000 casualties, and 40,000
people had disappeared.
On September 19, part of the peace agreement was signed.
This meant that the UN monitoring group, MINUGUA, would
monitor compliance with human rights conventions and
agreements. The Mayan Indians' identity and rights were
protected by the agreement. The government appointed a Truth
Commission with the task of investigating what violations of
human rights were committed during the civil war. A land
reform was also promised.
The final agreement was signed in Guatemala City on
December 29 and marked the end of 36 years of civil war.
In the November 1995 election, Alvaro Arz˙ of the party
PPN got 42% of the vote, while his closest rival, Alfonso
Portillo Cabrera of FRG, only got about half. At the second
round of elections on 7 January 1996, Arz˙ was elected
President. This time the electoral boycott was 63%.
In December, at a series of ceremonies in Oslo, Mexico
and eventually in Guatemala, the new government and URNG
signed a series of agreements that ended the civil war that
had cost more than 200,000 killed. The ceasefire between the
two warring parties was respected, but coincided with a
significant increase in crime. It was estimated that around
80% of the population lived below the poverty line.
In December 1997, Guatemala was one of the 5 Latin
American countries most affected by the climatic changes
that resulted from changes in the Pacific Ocean El Ni˝o.
The FAO sent food aid to this and other countries in the
A year after the signing of the peace agreements, the
country continued to face problems related to changes in the
military's structures and the reintegration of the thousands
of former partisans into civilian life.
In September 1998, Hurricane Mitch ravaged Central
America. Acc. the Latin American research organization CEPAL
causes it $ 5.36 billion in damages. US $ and 24,000 perish
- 256 of which are Guatemalans. Over 100,000 lose their
homes and the deteriorating hygiene situation puts the
country in a "state of emergency".
The investigation into human rights abuses during the war
in the country is triggering a wave of threats against
investigators and judicial staff. After submitting a report
accusing the military of responsibility for the massacres,
Bishop Juan Gerardi was assassinated in 1998. The lawyer
investigating the murder is fleeing to the United States,
seeking asylum. As a reason, he indicates violent pressure
against the investigation and several death threats. In
October of that year, the government unearthed hundreds of
corpses lying in an area controlled by an elite unit of the
capital's police. That same year, a United Nations report
estimates that about 96% of the deaths during the war are
due to military and other government forces.
During the second round of elections in the presidential
election, on Sunday, December 1999, FRG candidate Alfonso
Portillo received 68% of the vote, thus eliminating Oscar
Berger from the ruling PAN. The turnout was just 41%.
In early 2000, Guatemala made territorial claims against
just over half of neighboring Belize territory. Guatemala
recognized the independence of the former British colony in
1991, but continues to claim territorial claims.
Representatives of the two countries briefly negotiated in
Miami in February and March 2000 with the OAS (Organization
of American States) as the broker.
The drought that ravaged the country in 2001 led to
starvation, which had killed 41 people around the middle of
the year. President then declared the country in emergency
for 30 days, asking for international help to alleviate the
situation. According to UN reports, 80% of Guatemalans live
in extreme poverty.
After facing life-threatening threats, two state
attorneys and a judge went into voluntary exile. They were
responsible for the investigation into the murder of Bishop
Gerardi. Before she went into exile in Spain, Judge Yassmin
Barrios managed to solve the murder and send 3 officers and
a priest to prison for this.