Guatemala History and Literature

History. – President Y. Fuentes soon manifested his authoritarian character both towards the opposition and towards some friendly states: he renounced the technical aid of the USA, expropriated German agricultural funds, collided with neighboring Mexico for fishing reasons, raised against Great Britain the age-old territorial dispute of Belice (see British Honduras). A turning point in relations with the USA came in 1960 when Ydígoras allowed the creation in Guatemalan territory of a secret base for the training of Cuban exiles. Guatemala thus found himself indirectly involved, together with North Americans and anti-Castroists, in the failed attempt to land in Cuba (April 17, 1961). In November 1962 a part of the armed forces rebelled and bombed the capital; but Ydígoras managed to control the situation. Its dictatorial systems became harsher, corruption among the leaders spread and the peasant masses were increasingly harshly exploited. In March 1963 a military coup put an end to the Ydígoras dictatorship, but started another one headed by col. Enrique Peralta Azurdia. The new president fought corruption, increased coffee production and encouraged North American investment in the country; but with Great Britain the question of the territory of Belice rekindled, which led to the rupture, in July 1963, of relations between the two countries. In 1966, after a mediation by the USA, Great Britain declared itself willing to give up that area, which it had occupied since the beginning of the seventeenth century. Subsequently, following a conference on May 20, 1973, London informed that the

According to Harvardshoes, the internal order, during the government of Peralta, was continually disturbed by coups of the guerrillas, who called for a democratic government and greater social justice. The frequent kidnappings of people caused a real exodus of wealthy families to safer shores, while armed clashes with government forces multiplied. On September 15, 1965, Guatemala gave himself a new constitution; in March 1966 the elections expressed the victory of the candidate of the Partido revolucionario, the elderly law professor Júlio César Méndez Montenegro, who was inaugurated on July 1, 1966. Rarely in Latin American annuals, the military received the response from the polls with perfect discipline. The new president, however, had to systematically resort to the state of siege, in an attempt to stem the wave of violence unleashed on the country, the scene of a relentless struggle between the right and the guerrillas. Victims of terrorism, after the sensational kidnapping of the archbishop of Guatemala City, Monsignor Mario Casariego, were the head of the US military mission and military attaché, murdered in January 1968; US ambassador John Gordon, killed on August 28 of the same year; the head of the National Liberation Movement (anti-communist) Mario López Villastoro,

The elections of March 1, 1970 took place in a climate of mistrust and insecurity (the foreign minister, Fuentes Mohr, was kidnapped on the eve of his release in exchange for a guerrilla leader), leading to victory the far-right candidate with the. Carlos Arana Osorio. The reaction of the left materialized in the kidnapping and cowardly killing (6 April) of the German ambassador Karl-Maria von Spreti, following the non-release of guerrillas. The 1974 election campaign, still dominated by violence, showed that the military did not intend to give up power: the opposition was beaten with the bloody repressions implemented by the Movimiento Anticomunista Nacional Organizado (MANO), a paramilitary group dedicated to the physical suppression of opponents of the regime. The victory, as expected, went (March 3) to the government candidate and defense minister gen. Kjell Langerud García, who became President of the Republic. For Guatemala there is no probability of short-term changes. The rural Indians (70% of the population) do not participate in the political and economic life of the nation, linked to one of the lowest living standards in all of Latin America.

Literature. – The Christian pantheism of R. Arévalo Martínez (1884-1973) exerted an undoubted suggestion on most writers of the older generation, both poets and storytellers, until a new pleiad appeared influenced by European literary movements (surrealism) or political ideologies (Marxism). Significant of this new phase is above all L. Cardoza y Aragón (born in 1904), a lyricist of very audacity in the Baroque metaphor, applied to objects of modern life, and in metric experimentation; but his main poetic works rather belong to the 1930s, with the exception of the Pequeña sinfonía del Mundo Nuevo (1949). Political concerns, expressed with notable vigor of thought and sociological investigative capacity, are based on one of his essays which had a wide circulation: Guatemala ; las lineas de su dano (1955). From the various literary groups that appeared after the Second World War, figures of poets emerge such as R. Leiva born in 1916 and OR González born in 1920. Among the narrators stands out above all M. Monteforte Toledo, born in 1911, with a series of novels full of popular characters, of almost fabulous events, of tropical landscapes with a strong lyrical charm: Entre la piedra y la cruz (1948), Donde acaban los caminos (1952), Una manera de morir (1958) and with robust, synthetic stories: La cueva sin quietud (1950) Cuentos de derrota y de esperanza (1962). In this last book the implications of a social nature are accentuated, with a lively character of protest. This state of mind is the basis of the writer’s most complex and ambitious novel: Llegaron del mar (1966), where he reconstructs the epic degl’indios at the time of the Spanish conquest, that is, the end of the naive confidence with nature and the beginning of the distressing contradictions of history. Of a completely different tendency is C. Solórzano (born in 1922), who has learned the lesson of Kafka and the Argentine narrators well, developing the existentialistic theme of loneliness surrounded by a world of violence, especially in the novel Los falsos demonios (1966).

But of course the period is all dominated by the presence of a writer of universal significance such as MA Asturias (1899-1974, see in this App.) Nobel Prize for 1967. In addition to the novels, spread all over the world, and which constitute a compact cycle of evocation and interpretation of Guatemalan history in its various phases and in its regional and class differences, in Guatemala it was his poems (Sien de alondra, 1949; Clarivigilia primaveral, 1965) that aroused the enthusiasm of young people and the attention of the critics, while the dramatic work (Chantaje, Dique seco, La audiencia de los confines, gathered in volume in 1964, Torotumbo, performed at the Venice Film Festival in 1969) has provided enduring examples for Guatemalan theater, the current development of which comes after a period of uncertain attempts. Notable playwrights are the bizarre and imaginative M. Marsicovetere Durán (born in 1912), with Pirandellian echoes, and M. Galich (born in 1913) quite engaged in political satire or “Indianist” themes. Galich also carried out notable activities as a director and theater animator.

Guatemala History