Day of Heroes & Martyrs

June 30, 2011 + San Francisco Style

the Present May 26, 2011

After the War

1998 – Bishop Juan Gerardi, a human rights campaigner, murdered.

1999 – UN-backed commission says security forces were behind 93% of all human rights atrocities committed during the civil war, which claimed 200,000 lives, and that senior officials had overseen 626 massacres in Maya villages.

2000 – Alfonso Portillo sworn in as president after winning elections in 1999.

2001 December – President Portillo pays $1.8 millon in compensation to the families of 226 men, women and children killed by soldiers and paramilitaries in the northern village of Las Dos Erres in 1982.

2002 September – Guatemala and Belize agree on draft settlement to their long-standing border dispute at talks brokered by Organization of American States (OAS). Both nations will hold referendums on draft settlement.

2003 November – Presidential elections go to second round. Former military leader Efrain Rios Montt trails in third place, accepts defeat.

2003 December – Conservative businessman Oscar Berger – a former mayor of Guatemala City – wins presidential election in second round.

2004 May
– Former military leader Efrain Rios Montt placed under house arrest.

2004 May/June
– Major cuts to the army; bases are closed and 10,000 soldiers are retired.

2004 July – $3.5 million in damages paid to victims of civil war. Move follows state’s formal admissions of guilt in several well-known human rights crimes.

2004 September – Deadly clashes as police try to evict around 600 squatters from private farm. Eleven people are killed.

2004 December – UN mission, set up to monitor post-civil war peace process, winds up. But UN says Guatemala still suffers from crime, social injustice, human rights violations.

2005 March – Government ratifies Central American free trade deal with US amid street protests in capital.

2005 October – Hundreds of people are killed as Tropical Storm Stan sweeps through, triggering landslides and floods.

2005 November – Guatemala’s leading anti-drugs investigator is arrested in the US on charges of drug trafficking.

2006 July – A Spanish judge issues a warrant for the arrest of former military leader Efrain Rios Montt and other former officials over atrocities committed during the civil war.

2006 December – Government and the UN agree to create a commission – to be known as the CICIG – to identify and dismantle powerful clandestine armed groups.

2007 February
– Three El Salvador politicians and their driver are murdered near Guatemala City. The trio were members of the Central American Parliament, based in the capital.

2007 May
– Guatemala ratifies an international adoption treaty, committing it to ensure that babies are not bought or stolen.


2007 July – Amnesty International urges the government to ratify the CICIG as a first step towards tackling the culture of impunity it says has contributed to Guatemala’s soaring murder rate.

2007 August – International election monitors say they are worried about the high murder rate among political candidates and activists in the run-up to the 9 September polls.

2007 November – Alvaro Colom of centre-left National Unity of Hope Party wins presidential elections with nearly 53 percent of the vote.

2008 October
– Former President Alfonso Portillo is extradited from Mexico to face corruption charges linked to disappearance of $15m (£8.5m) earmarked for Guatemalan defence department.

2008 November – Fifteen bus passengers including a Dutch national are shot dead and then set on fire in eastern Guatemala in what police believe to be a drug-related incident.

2009 May
– President Colom denies involvement in murder of a prominent lawyer who in a video made before to his death claimed Colom and others were out to kill him. A UN probe clears Mr Colom.

2009 September
– An ex-paramilitary officer, Felipe Cusanero, becomes the first person to be jailed for the forced disappearance of civilians in Guatemala’s civil war.

2009 December – Retired colonel becomes first army officer to be convicted of crimes committed during civil war.

2010 March
– Country’s police chief and anti-drugs czar are sacked over the theft of cocaine.

2010 May
– State of emergency declared after Pacaya volcano erupts.

2010 September
– Former President Alfonso Portillo goes on trial on charges of embezzlement, denies the accusations.

2010 October – US apologises for deliberately infecting hundreds of Guatemalans with gonorrhoea and syphilis as part of medical tests in the 1940s. President Colom describes the tests as a “crime against humanity”.

2011 April
– President Colom and his wife Sandra Torres divorce so that she can stand for election as president.

Almost 15 years after the end of the civil war, violence and intimidation continue to be a major problem in political and civilian life. Organized crime groups operate with relative impunity, an issue that appears likely to factor prominently in the country’s next presidential election later this year.