The heritage of the ancient Mayan
civilizations is rich. This is evident in the large
amount of archaeological remains and, not least, in
contemporary Mayan culture. Despite centuries of
oppression, Mayan culture has survived and developed.
A number of informal institutions still live
alongside the formal ones, such as Mayor mayors, Mayan
priests, village elders, midwives and in some cases also
their own legal system. Traditional costumes are still
used, both for everyday and for parties. Striking are
the colorful textiles and the beautiful symbol-laden
embroidery. Several old dances remain, as well as a
Latest population statistics of Guatemala, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
Common to all residents is a strong music tradition
where the national instrument marimba is central.
Marimba is a wood percussion, with roots in Africa.
The country's writers have been almost exclusively
Ladinos (see Population and Languages). Most famous is
the poet, novelist and diplomat Miguel Ángel Asturias
(1899–1974) who received the Nobel Prize in literature
in 1967. Asturias's works are rooted in Mayan culture
and his magical realism has had a major impact on Latin
American literature. Criticism against the long-standing
oppression of the indigenous peoples is a common theme.
Hombres de maíz (Maid People) is
Asturias most famous work.
Ex-presidential candidate is arrested
One month after the decisive round in the
presidential election, losing candidate Sandra Torres is
arrested, suspected of violating campaign finance rules
and having had illegal connections. Torres, who has run
in three presidential elections without winning, had
prosecutorial immunity as long as she was a candidate.
She herself says she is exposed to a political witch
Giammattei wins the presidential election
The Conservative Party of Vamo's candidate Alejandro
Giammattei wins in the second round of the presidential
election with 58 percent of the vote, against 42 percent
for Sandra Torres who is a candidate for the Social
Democratic UNE. Giammattei, who has run in three
previous presidential elections, is considered to have
close ties to the military. He will take office in
January 2020. The turnout is 42 percent.
Migrant settlement with the United States
The United States and Guatemala sign a settlement in
which Guatemala is now considered a "safe third country"
for asylum seekers. This means that asylum seekers on
their way through the country must seek asylum there and
not be allowed to continue to the US - and if they do,
they can be sent back by US authorities. The aim,
according to US President Donald Trump, is to stop the
migration of migrants and to stop human trafficking and
"asylum" in the region. Just days before, Trump has
threatened tariffs, travel bans and money laundering
charges unless Guatemala signed a deal. Exactly how
Guatemala should go to live up to the commitment is
unclear. The agreement must be ratified by Congress, and
the Constitutional Court has previously blocked a
similar settlement with the United States.
Nothing crucial in the first round of elections
In the first round of the presidential election, UNE
candidate Sandra Torres gets 26 percent of the vote,
while Alejandro Giammattei, candidate for Vamos, gets 14
percent. The two will meet in the decisive election
round on 11 August. In third and fourth place are Edmond
Mulet (Humanista) with 11 percent and Thelma Cabrera (MLP)
with 10 percent. A total of 19 presidential candidates
ran for office. In today's congressional elections, the
distribution of seats will be: National Union of Hope (UNE)
54, Vamos 16, Union for National Change (UCN) 12, Valor
9, Front for National Convergence (FCN) 8, National
Prosperity (Bien) 8, Semilla 7, Viva 7, Todos 7, others
32. A total of 19 parties get at least one seat in
Congress. The turnout is 62 percent.
Yet another presidential candidate suspended
15th of May
Former state prosecutor Thelma Aldana gives up her
candidacy for the June presidential election, after the
Constitutional Court ruled in lower courts that she may
not stand. The reason is allegations of irregularities
in connection with the purchase of a government building
and the creation of false jobs during her time as a
prosecutor (see also March 2019).
Aldana could have appealed the decision further and
initially tweeted that it would happen, but she and her
party Semilla back then. Her intended Vice Presidential
candidate Jonathan Menkos said at a press conference
that those responsible for the corruption in the country
have opposed Aldana's candidacy. The party is now
investing instead in winning seats in congress and
municipal assemblies. Aldana herself takes refuge in the
United States after being subjected to death threats.
Ex-dictator's daughter turns off
The Constitutional Court forbids Zury Ríos to stand
in the June presidential election. She is disqualified
because she is the daughter of ex-dictator Efraín Ríos
Montt (see Modern History). According to the court,
close relatives of coup leaders under the constitution
may not be president. Relatives of victims of the
military dictatorship welcome the message. Zury Ríos has
previously said that a ban would mean a violation of
rights both for her and her supporters. So far, she has
been one of the three leading names in opinion polls.
The other two are former Prosecutor General Thelma
Aldana and former president's wife Sandra Torres - who
are both at risk of being shut down. Aldana is charged
with fraud and tax fraud (see March 2019)
and Torres for receiving illegal promotional funds.
US aid is withdrawn
The United States announces that aid to Guatemala, as
well as to El Salvador and Honduras, for 2017 and 2018
will be fully withdrawn, according to an order from
President Trump. It's unclear how much money is
involved, but Trump himself has spoken of $ 500 million.
Trump is accusing the three Central American states of
not doing anything to stop the widespread migration to
the United States.
Presidential candidate risks being arrested
A judge issues an arrest warrant for former state
prosecutor Thelma Aldana, the same day she is registered
as a candidate in the June presidential election. As
presidential candidate, she can have prosecutorial
immunity. The suspicions apply to embezzlement, lies and
tax fraud. Aldana was State Prosecutor in 2014–2018 and
worked closely with the UN-supported Commission Cicig,
which works against impunity and corruption.
Court stops trying to close Cicig
The Constitutional Court annulled President Jimmy
Morale's decision to close the UN-backed Cicig
operation. The decision comes two days after the Foreign
Ministry notified the UN that Morales had decided on his
own not to extend Cicig's mandate. The UN response was
that Guatemala is obliged to leave Cicig behind. The
tug-of-war around Cicig began when the Commission,
together with prosecutors, requested that Morale's
prosecution be revoked (see August 2017).
Morales has just tried to prevent a Ciciig investigator
from entering the country, but that decision was also
stopped in court.