Guatemala is located in Central America and is bordered
by Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador.
The country is also sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean
to the southwest, and the Caribbean Sea to the northeast.
Guatemala is an
industrializing society
with initially agrarian
developmental roots.
Guatemala was
inhabited with early
hunting and gathering
groups as far back as
10,000 years ago
However, the
population of
Guatemala quickly
adapted to food
production, namely the
cultivation of maize.
Guatemala was subjected to Spanish
expeditions and rule which decimated local
populations from 1518 ….
….until September 15th, 1821 when the country
declared independence from Spain and
membership in the Mexican Empire.
Current Population=
Crude birth rate =
Crude Death Rate=
Rate pop. growth =
Net Migration rate=
29.88 births/1,000
5.2 deaths/1,000
-1.94 migrant(s)/1,000
As seen in the graph,
Guatemala has been
experiencing very rapid
population growth in
the past 50 years
This growth is felt
primarily in the youth
Percent of citizens ages
0-14= 41.1%
Median age of citizens=
18.9 years
The population of Guatemala has jumped from 3
million to over 11 million since 1950.
Indigenous distrust of contraceptives
Lifestyle based on manual labor and kin
High rate of poverty
Lack of government aid in family planning
Guatemala is a predominantly
Catholic country and The
Catholic church opposes
THUS, people are taught to
protect oneself from pregnancy
and HIV/AIDS by abstinence
and fidelity.
This methodology could be
attributed to the high birth rate
found in Guatemala
And their rate of infection
which is one of the HIGHEST
in Central America
people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 5,800
Catholic= 50-60%
Protestant ( especially
Evangelicals and
Pentecostals) = 40%
Traditional Mayan
beliefs = 1%
There are 2 major ethnic groups
~ 60% of the population are Ladinos
They are Mestizos or of mixed Mayan and
European/Spanish descent
~ 40% of the population are of pure Mayan
origin (indigenas)
They make up most of the urban population
Their culture is dominant in the urban areas
Ladinos speak Spanish and have adopted the
European customs
They include a wide range of people: from the
elite to the middle classes to the poor
Historically suffered from
discrimination and poverty
They are geographically
isolated – found mainly in
the rural highlands
Many speak a Mayan
language and follow the
traditional religious and
village customs
Still produce the traditional
textiles and crafts
They are the majority of the
agricultural labor force
The government has tried to
suppress their culture and
force them to assimilate
Peace agreements in 1996
The social classes are based on wealth,
education, and family prestige
Race is not as important as culture or lifestyles
The distinction between the 2 ethnic groups is
more a matter of culture than of biology
Natives could be accepted into Ladino society
if they are well-educated and could live in a
Western lifestyle
Society is divided between rich and poor and there’s a huge gap
between the two
The wealthy class is very small
Many of the people remain extremely poor, especially the native
Poverty affects both rural and urban areas but those in the rural
areas live under harsher conditions
• Per capita GDP (2007 est.): $5,400.
•Unemployment rate 3.2% (2005 est.)
• Top remittance recipient in Central
• ¾ of population lives in poverty
• Wealth concentrated among a
• Women earn 1/5 of the nation’s
income (lowest in Latin America)
•Quetzals per US dollar - 7.6833 (2007)
•The quetzal became the
monetary unit of Guatemala in
1925 when it replaced the
Guatemalan peso
• Economy dominated by private sector
generates 85% of GDP
•Agriculture 23% of GDP and 75% of
•Export market: sugar, bananas, coffee
•Also textiles, winter vegetables, fruit and
•Export to the United States and Central
•U.S. is Guatemala’s largest trading partner
Labor force by occupation:
agriculture: 50%
industry: 15%
services: 35% (1999 est.)
Hindrances of progress:
Decades of civil war
Lack of diverse manufacturing sector
Dependency on exporting agriculture
Vast difference between the rural and urban
Spanish colonialism
Mid-19th century to mid-1980s there were a
series of dictatorships, insurgencies
(particularly in the 1960s), coups, and stretches
of military rule
36 year Civil War
Only occasional periods of representative
government during this time
New Constitution drafted May 1985, amended
Unicameral 158 member congress, 4 year term
President, 4 year term
13 member Supreme Court of Justice, 5 year term
Many subdivisions
Suffrage for those over 18
Variety of procedural obstacles have reduced
participation by poor, rural, and indigenous people
Nation Unity for Hope (UNE)
Grand National Alliance (GANA)
Consists of Patriot Party, Reform Movement, and
National Solidarity Party
National Advancement Party (PAN)
Center right party
Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG)
Current party represented by President Alvaro
Populist party
14 parties on 2007 presidential election ticket
36-Year Civil War (1960-1996)
Longest Civil War in Latin American History
Ethnic Genocide
Ideology conflicts
• Backed by US CIA
Military infiltration into government and public
Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity
Mix of four revolutionary groups
 Assassinated military leaders, including a US
Ambassador John Gordon Mein in 1968
Large amount of corruption
Guatemalan presidents and government acted out
against the guerilla movement with military action
1983 de facto President Mejia
• New constitution 1985
1986 President Cerezo elected under new constitution
 New laws of habeas corpus (right to trial and jury)
and amparo (court-ordered protection)
 Creation of a legislative human rights committee
 Office of Human Rights Ombudsman established
More influential movements toward peace:
 1993 Constitutional Reforms
 “Purified” Congress and Supreme Court
UN involvement with human rights agreements and
peace accords
 Global Awareness
 I, Rigoberta Menchu, an Indian Woman in Guatemala
Relative political stability since 1996
Corruption Continues
Government backed eviction
of indigenous people from
their land in order to sell it to
mining company, 2007
of Guatemalan children ages
7-14 attend public school
7% attend private school
67% Don’t attend school at all!
In urban Guatemala, 27.1% of 714 year olds start secondary
education and 7% of this
population receive a college
In rural Guatemala, 0.5% of the
population receive a college
33% of Guatemalan women and
25% of Guatemalan men are
Divided into three levels
- Primary (elementary)
- Secondary (high School)
- University
*Education in Guatemala is free and
through sixth grade (Primary school) or
between the ages of 7-14*
Although Spanish is the official language, not all Guatemalans are fluent
Spanish. 60% speak Spanish, 40% speak indigenous Mayan languages
There is a high Indian population, over 20 indigenous Indian languages
including K’iche’, Kakchiquel, K’ekchi, Mam, and Quiche.
The goal for Guatemalans is to become uni-lingual (for all citizens to be
fluent in Spanish).
Six years
Students must pass a general examination at each grade level in order to
pass to the next grade. If they fail, they must repeat the grade.
Students receive education in basic areas, including language, science,
mathematics, and history.
Classes are taught in both Spanish and English, although in more remote
areas, indigenous Mayan languages are used exclusively.
In cities, students can learn German, French or Italian.
Most Guatemalan children do not attend
3 years of general education called Ciclo
2 years of Vocational training called Ciclo
Ciclo Diversificado allows children to “specialize”
in one of several professional areas such as education,
agriculture, and business
Instead of Ciclo Diversificado, students can opt to receive perito
(certification) in industria (industry), agrícola (agriculture), or
abogado (lawyer).
To combat the illiteracy
problem, seniors in high
school are required to teach
5 people to read in order to
receive their diploma or
Five institutions
The most prominent and only public university is the Universidad
de San Carlos.
Must have a bachillerato (diploma), knowledge of Spanish and, for
private schools, a satisfactory grade on the Examen de Admision
(Entrance Exam)
Licenciatura=bachelor’s degree. 3-7 years.
- Technical certificate=3 years.
- Degree in arts and sciences = 4 years
- Degree in ingienería (engineering)= 6 years
- Medicine = 7 years
Seminar in Social issues is a requirement. It requires them
to write about a significant problem facing Guatemalan society.
Maestrado = master’s degree. 2 years + thesis
Doctorado= doctorate degree
Graduating university students must also complete an
Internship which requires them to teach 5 Guatemalans how to
• The first child is usually
given the name of the
his/her father or mother
•Other children are
given the name of
ancestors, padrinos, or
•People use their whole
name consisting of their first
name (sometimes two-fold)
and two last names
• Life revolves around the family
•Parents= espejos (through them
you learn who you are and who
you can become)
•Extended family all live close by
•Guatemalans rarely spend time
•Fictive kin (compadre/ comadre)
•Three generation household is
•Emphasize care for the elderly
•Responsibility of youngest child
•Traditions are changing with U.S.
•Strong resistance of indigenas
•“Chaperon” during dates
•Man has to ask for the woman’s hand in marriage
•Within landinos social status is important when choosing a partner
•Average age:
•Women 20
•men 24
•groom responsible for expenses of wedding
•Common- law marriage accepted when the groom cannot afford a church
•Father as head of family and provider
•Mother heart and spiritual guide of family
•Pregnancy of Mayan women
•Los Quince
•Velada for the dead
• 4.3 births per woman
• Birth rate: 29.88 births/1,000 population
• Female labor force (% of total labor force), 2003= 31.3%
• Marriages: 38,500
• Marriage rate: 4.8 per 1000 persons
• Divorces: 1,400
• Divorce rate: 0.2 per 1000 persons
• Idea of excessive masculinity and personal sense of virility– historically unequal power relations
reflected in the oppression, discrimination and subordination of women
• Men believe they are entitled to overpower women and treat them however they want; women are
viewed as pieces of property
• Racism and el machismo widespread– breed the discrimination of indigenous peoples and women at
all levels of society
• Long-lasting attitudes apparent in laws:
• until last year, a rapist could escape charges if he married his victim, even if she was only 12
years old.
• Domestic violence cannot be prosecuted unless signs of injury are still apparent 10 days later.
• Marital rape is not a criminal offense.
• A law empowering men to prohibit their wives from working outside the home was revoked
only in 1999.
• Discrimination of women at all levels of society, unfair working conditions in maquiladoras and
domestic labor sphere, femicide
•Tens of thousands of Guatemalan women working as domestic workers and in the
maquila sector face high rates of gender-based discrimination that is sponsored or
tolerated by the government
•Government denies domestic workers basic labor rights, including the otherwise
recognized right to an eight-hour workday and the minimum wage
• Women workers suffer significant levels of sexual harassment– women and girls
working in private households do not have adequate legal protection, frequently
subject to sexual assault and other abuses by their employers
• Employers in the maquila sector often require women seeking jobs to declare
whether they are pregnant, and often deny pregnant workers maternity benefits
•Workers in both spheres encounter obstacles
accessing reproductive health care (unsafe
abortion is a serious public health problem and
continues to be one of the leading causes of
maternal mortality in the region)
• “Femicide”- term coined to refer to the hundreds of women murdered
in Guatemala without cause or prosecution
• In the last seven years:
• 140,000 domestic violence complaints
• 6,025 reported cases of rape
• 3,281 women have been reported murdered
• Only 2% of crimes have been solved
• Expression of misogyny/machismo attitudes: use of extreme violence,
brutal torture
• Impunity– lack of interest by weak, inefficient state authorities, failure
to collect evidence and widespread corruption all feed the problem
• Excerpt from documentary, “Killer’s Paradise.”
• Women’s rights activists face a culture of silence and are regularly
targeted themselves– offices ransacked, leaders murdered
"No-one ever comes forward to tell their story.
"The message is that people can do whatever they want,
with no chance of prosecution.
"We all feel afraid. But it just makes us want to carry on."
-Sandra Moran
1. Which of the following doesn’t border
a. Honduras
b. Nicaragua
c. Belize
d. Mexico
2. Which of the following terms was
coined as the mass killing of women:
a. machismo
b. maquiladoras
c. femicide
d. ladinos
3. Guatemala’s history of
contributed to
their current political instability
a. colonialism
b. Poverty
c. civil war
d. all of the above
4. The conditions of poverty are
harshest in rural areas (True or
5. Which of these is not a major
export from Guatemala
a. bananas
b. textiles
c. copper
d. coffee
6. How many people do students
need to teach how to read in order
to graduate from high school
a. 10
b. 5
c. 3
d. 6
Guatemala - History & Background, Constitutional & Leg Foundations, Educational System—overview,
Preprimary & Primary Education, Secondary Education.
Latin American Christian Education Resources. http://www.laces-guatemala.com/
The CIA World Factbook: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gt.html
Encarta: http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/refpages/RefAuxArt.aspx?refid=631522204

Guatemala - The University of North Carolina at Chapel …