Guatemala. On March 19, the long-awaited trial of Efraín Ríos Montt, accused of genocide and war crimes, began during his time as Guatemalan dictator in 1982–83. The Constitutional Court had already rejected Ríos Montt’s protests against the charges, which apply to the death of 1,700 Mayan Indians in fifteen massacres in the province of Quiché. However, the process encountered problems early on. Already after a month, the trial was adjourned for formal reasons by a judge who had previously made controversial judgments. Admittedly, on May 10, Ríos Montt was found guilty and sentenced to 80 years in prison – it was the first time ever that a former head of state was convicted of genocide – which was seen as a positive sign for Guatemala’s notoriously corrupt justice system. However, three days later the Constitutional Court declared the verdict invalid on technical grounds, which caused great upset.
According to Countryaah, the trial also cast a shadow over President Otto Pérez Molina, himself a military man who during the current years of the 1980s was an army officer in precisely the province of Quiché and was himself surrounded by suspicions of war crimes. However, he is protected by immunity as long as he is head of state, and he dismissed all charges as fabrications and warned against polarization of Guatemalan society.
The doubts surrounding Guatemala’s handling of human rights issues were raised about the same time by the kidnapping of four Native American leaders in the southeastern province of Jalapa, who openly opposed the mining exploitation of a Canadian company in the area. One of the kidnapped was later found dead. Guatemala’s human rights organization UDEFEGUA registered 305 human rights violations in 2012. Similar conflicts between residents and mining companies took place in at least six different places during the year.
On May 24, former President Alfonso Portillo (2000–04) was extradited to the United States, where he is charged with money laundering for a sum of $ 70 million. The extradition had been delayed by the court for two years.
Area: 108,889 km2 (world rank: 104)
Population density: 155 per km2 (as of 2017, world rank: 68)
Capital: Guatemala (Guatemala City)
Official languages: Spanish
Gross domestic product: 75.6 billion US $; Real growth: 2.8%
Gross national product (GNP, per resident and year): 4060 US$
Currency: 1 Quetzal (Q) = 100 Centavos
47, 10557 Berlin
Telephone 030 2064363,
Fax 030 20643659
Head of State and Government: Jimmy MoralesJafeth Cabrera Franco, Exterior: Sandra Erica Jovel Polanco
National holiday: 15.9.
State and form of government
Constitution of 1986
Parliament: National Congress (Congreso Nacional) with 158 members, election every 4 years
Direct election of the head of state every 4 years (no re-election)
Suffrage from 18 years of age
Population of: Guatemalans, last census 2002: 11,237,196 residents
approx. 60% indigenous people (including Maya-Quiché, Mames, Cakchiqueles, Kekchi), 30% of European indigenous descent (Ladinos); Minorities of European, African and Asian descent
Cities (with population): (As of 2016) Guatemala 994,300 inh., Villa Nueva 489,000, Mixco 474,400, Petapa 181,200, Quezaltenango 153,200, San Juan Sacatepéquez 129,600, Chimaltenango 124,800, Escuintla 118,200, Villa Canales 116,500, Chinautla 111,000
churches 45% Catholics, 42% Protestants (charismatic communities); 11% without religion; Followers of indigenous religions (as of 2006)
Languages: Spanish; Maya Quiché languages
Employed by economic sector: Agriculture. 29%, industry 21%, business 50% (2017)
Unemployment (in% of all labor force): no information
Inflation rate (in%): 2017: 4.4%
Foreign trade: Import: 18.4 billion US$ (2017); Export: 11.0 billion US $ (2017)