Guatemalan Genocide

The Guatemalan Genocide of 1980

The Guatemalan Genocide of 1980 was a horrible event that happened inside a country in Central America. The government believed that Native Indians from Guatemala, which were Mayan descent, were working with communists. The government believed that they were a threat and sent their army to kill the Native Indians. These armies attacked 626 villages. The armies were completely inhuman in how they treated the natives. As stated by The Peace Pledge Union, “Children were often beaten against walls, or thrown alive into pits where the bodies of adults were later thrown; they were also tortured and raped. Victims of all ages often had their limbs amputated or were impaled and left to die slowly” (The Peace Pledge Union) These are just examples of the violations that these natives had to go through.

To understand the Guatemalan Genocide of 1980 you have to look at what happened before the genocide. In the late 19th century Guatemala was taken over by a dictator who seemed to privilege money over rights. He put Guatemala on the economic map by having international landowners produce and sell coffee on their plantations. The Americans became the major investors in Guatemala. With this came a lot of security for the rich investors, so powerful armies and police forces were created. In 1944, a new government was formed and it looked on for the rights of the people. This government mostly looked upon the rights of the Native Indians because before they came into power these people were considered peasants. This new government made many reforms to help people. They gave these natives social security and education. When this government tried to make a land reform, in which they wanted to buy land off investors so they could be owned by the state. The investors did not like the idea so they decided to bring down that government and put a military dictator in its place. When the natives were not agreeing with new policies; they decided to go down to Guatemala City and hold non-violent protests. The government decided to handle it in a manner in which ended with the Spanish embassy burning down with protesters inside.

A question that I have is why didn’t the Spanish help the native Mayans?

In an article written in the U.K. it stated that the Spanish ambassador asked the Guatemalan government to handle the protestors with care. The government, however,handled it in a completely different way. The Americans also seemed highly involved in this country already. In the early 1980's, America was run by President Ronald Regan. Around this time, America decided to exploit their materialism and consumerism. This happened because of Regan's deregulation policies. According to the history channel's website, when Regan got elected he, "advocated for industrial deregulation, reductions in government spending and tax cuts for both individuals and corporations, as part of an economic plan he and his advisors referred to as “supply-side economics.” Rewarding success and allowing people with money to keep more of it, the thinking went, would encourage them to buy more goods and invest in businesses." ( It seems like President Regan gave his citizens to much freedom with their money and abused it in other countries such as Guatemala.



This article is written by people from the UK. It talks about what happened before, during and after the genocide of Guatemala. This is a secondary source which is a type of limitation.

"Guatemalan Genocide on Trial." Guatemalan Genocide on Trial. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.

This article talks about the trial that the dictator, who was in charge of the time of the genocide, was trialed for what he had done. For this source I only took the picture and no information.

"Chicago Public Library." Bibliocommons. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.

This resource talks more in depth on what happened during the Genocide in Guatemala. It is a secondary source but seems to be very reliable.