Guatemala has a complex national identity: more than 40% of the population is indigenous Maya, 73% of whom live in poverty, many in extreme poverty. It also has a complicated relationship with other countries, especially the United States, often characterized as “close but strained.”
During the second half of the 20th century, it experienced a variety of military and civilian governments, as well as a 36-year guerrilla war. In 1996, the government signed a set of peace agreements formally ending the internal conflict, which had left more than 200,000 people dead and had created, by some estimates, about 1 million refugees.
The 1996 peace accords removed a major obstacle to foreign investment, and since then Guatemala has pursued important political and military reforms and macroeconomic stabilization. The Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) entered into force in July 2006, spurring increased investment and diversification of exports, with the largest increases in ethanol and non-traditional agricultural exports. At the same time, it has experienced high rates of criminal violence, drug trafficking and substantial out-migration, including by unaccompanied minors.
Join us for a discussion of Guatemala with former U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala, John Hamilton, See more details about the speaker.
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