Guatemala: Random Facts and Trivia

Some random facts and trivia for the country of the world Guatemala, about the Mayan Indians, siege on the government.



The Mayan Indians, whose territory eventually covered 125,000 sq. mi., 1st appeared in Guatemala several centuries B.C. The 1st centuries A.D. saw the development of the Mayan civilization into one of the most advanced in the New World. Especially adept in the study of mathematics and astronomy, the Mayas worked out a complex calendar, the orbits of the sun and the moon, and had developed the concept of zero. In addition, they were master builders, and left several cities which, even by today's standards, are considered big. For reasons no longer known, the great population centers in the northern Guatemalan jungles were abandoned by 1200 A.D. Most of the Indians moved north to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, where they again built cities and temples. The structures they abandoned in Guatemala soon were overgrown by the jungle, and were not rediscovered until 1848. Although the Mayas employed a hieroglyphic system of writing, all attempts to decipher it have failed thus far. Until it is understood, much about the Mayas must remain a mystery.

Since 1950, over 2,000 Guatemalan military personnel have trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas in Panama; 300 Guatemalan police have received training through the U.S. Public Safety Assistance Program. AID money has been used to purchase police equipment including paddy wagons and weapons, and the U.S. military mission in Guatemala advises the Government on counterin-surgency techniques for dealing with the country's guerrilla groups.

In late 1970 the Government imposed a national state of siege, which was in force for nearly a year. During that time, many student leaders and left-wing intellectuals disappeared, all political meetings or demonstrations were forbidden, and police could make searches and arrests without warrants. Thousands of persons were arrested, and many hundreds died or "disappeared" during the year. Some Guatemalans estimate that 13,000 died between 1966 and 1972-casualties in Guatemala's virtual civil war. U.S. diplomats stationed there have received a 15% "hardship allowance" since 1970.

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