Date: Mon, 30 Dec 96 16:06:13 CST
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.