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Date: Mon, 30 Dec 96 16:06:13 CST
From: Arm The Spirit <ats@locust.cic.net>
Subject: Chronology Of Guatemala's 36-Year Civil War
Article: 3066

Chronology Of Guatemala's 36-Year Civil War

Reuter, 29 December 1996

GUATEMALA CITY, Dec 29 (Reuter) - The following is a chronology of events prior to and during the 36-year war that will come to an official end on Sunday when the government and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unit sign a definitive peace treaty.

1954 - United States-backed coup topples government of democratically-elected President Jacobo Arbenz, who had instituted agrarian reforms. Three decades of military-led governments follow.

1961 - Government suppresses rebellion by military officers, who flee to mountains.

1962 - Two guerrilla groups form after failed coup attempt by reformist army officers.

1966 - U.S. Special Forces participate in army counterinsurgency campaign that kills more than 8,000. Emergence of right-wing death squads blamed for killing 30,000 in next seven years.

1968 - Guerrillas assassinate U.S. ambassador.

1970 - Guerrillas assassinate West German ambassador.

1971-2 - Two more guerrilla groups form..

1977 - Guatemala rejects U.S. aid because of human rights stipulations.

1978 - Congress elects as president, Gen. Romeo Lucas Garcia, whose government systematically assassinates union leaders. United States bans arms sales to Guatemala.

1980 - Dozens of protesters -- including father of future Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu -- die in occupation of Spanish Embassy when security forces burn down building.

1981 - Army initiates massive, scorched-earth counterinsurgency campaigns against real and potential guerrilla supporters, wiping dozens of villages off the map.

1982 - Four guerrilla groups unite to form the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unit (URNG). Gen. Efrain Rios Montt seizes power in a coup and escalates counterinsurgency campaigns.

1983 - Gen. Oscar Mejia seizes power in coup and initiates "model villages" programme, a forced relocation of peasants.

1984 - URNG seen as losing all hope of a military victory.

1985 - U.S. resumes economic and military aid. Christian Democrat Vinicio Cerezo wins national elections.

1987 - Army's year-end offensive fails to obliterate guerrillas. Rightwing opposition torpedoes tentative discussions between president and URNG.

1988 - Two failed military coups.

1991 - Jorge Serrano wins election, first transfer of power from one democratically-elected president to another in decades. Peace talks begin between government and URNG. They stall late in year and remain so for years.

1992 - Rigoberta Menchu wins Nobel Peace Prize.

1993 - Serrano tries to take on dictatorial powers in so-called "Self-Coup," but is ousted and replaced by interim President Ramiro de Leon Carpio.

1994 - Peace talks resume and government and URNG sign human rights agreement.

1996 - President Alvaro Arzu takes power in January and peace talks accelerate.

April, 1996 - URNG declares unilateral ceasefire. Government suspends army counterinsurgency campaigns.

December, 1996 - Government and URNG sign last three of 10 agreements leading up to peace treaty, including truce.