Conflict escalation. Gerilia and regime response
By the beginning of the 1960's. Latin American revolutionaries already have a reliable ally and patron in Cuba. After the victory of the revolution on the island, Cuba began to support the revolutionary and national liberation movements in many countries of the world. Not only in the states of Central and South America, but also in Africa (Congo, Angola, Ethiopia). Guatemala was no exception, with the support of Cuba enlisted by the Rebel Armed Forces. The Guatemalan Labor Party played a leading role in the Rebel Armed Forces. In February, the National Conference of the Guatemalan Labor Party 1966 officially confirmed the party’s policy of continuing the armed struggle against the pro-American government of Guatemala.
During the period under review, the Guatemalan Rebel Armed Forces shifted their activity to the cities of the country. Guatemalan revolutionary José Maria Ignacio Ortiz Vides (1941-1983) became responsible for military operations in the cities. In the past, José Ortiz Vides, an engineering student at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala, dropped out of his second year and went to Cuba, where he received military training along with two other Guatemalan communists. Returning to Guatemala, Ortiz Vides became an active participant in anti-government activities carried out by the alliance of the Guatemalan Labor Party and the officer revolutionary movement 13 November. By 1964, Mr. Vides managed to organize teams of city guerrillas, staffed by former students and young workers, and focused on fighting in the cities of Guatemala. However, in the middle of 1966, Mr. Vides was grabbed by police officers - he managed to establish his identity after a traffic accident in which the leader of the urban rebels fell. In addition to Videsse, at that time, a number of prominent revolutionaries found themselves in the dungeons of the Guatemalan regime, for the release of which the Rebel Armed Forces took unprecedented actions - in May 1966, rebels kidnapped Supreme Court President Romeo Augusto de Leon, Baltasar Morales de la Information Secretary Cruz and Vice President of the Congress Hector Menendez de la Riva. The kidnappers demanded that the government release political prisoners. 31 August 1966 Vides was released, and in 1968, together with Aura Marina Arriola and Antonio Fernandez Isaguirre went to Vietnam to improve their military training there. In 1969, after returning from Vietnam, Vides tried to revive the city guerrilla in Guatemala, and at the beginning of the 1970's. moved to Mexico, where he became one of the active participants in the Mexican armed resistance.
However, the Guatemalan military junta also did not waste time. In March, the security services of 1966 abducted and killed the leading activists of the country's communist movement in 33. For the Guatemalan Labor Party, this was a very serious blow. The FGP leaders who remained at large accepted with enthusiasm the transfer of power to a civilian government that followed in June 1966. Colonel Enrique Peralta Asurdia, who led the country in 1963-1966, transferred power to a civilian leader, lawyer Mendez Montenegro. Julio Cesar Mendez Montenegro (1915-1996) won the presidential election, being a candidate from the Revolutionary Party of Guatemala. A university law professor, Montenegro, still in 1944, participated in the overthrow of General Ubico’s reactionary pro-American dictatorship. Therefore, many Guatemalan left enthusiastically embraced Montenegro’s victory in the country's presidential elections. However, the fifty-year-old professor Montenegro was significantly different from himself twenty years ago. Having won the presidential election, Montenegro continued the policy of his predecessor, Peralta Asurdia, and resumed brutal repression against Guatemala’s leftist movement. Mendez Montenegro began to pursue even more pro-American policies than its predecessors. In particular, during the years of his presidency, the armed forces and police of Guatemala finally came under the full control of the US special services and military command. The United States of America fully equipped the Guatemalan army and police with weapons and uniforms, while the officer corps was trained at the US military bases. This was done not only to improve the quality of preparedness of Guatemalan military and police commanders, but also to educate them completely in a pro-American spirit. In turn, Guatemalan officers trained by American instructors were more than trying to apply the knowledge gained at American training centers, fighting with their own people in the Guatemalan forests.
In Guatemala, brutal repression began against the opposition movement. People suspected of sympathizing with the communists disappeared without a trace or died. In the countryside, the killing of oppositionists and opposition sympathizers was carried out by army patrols, while in the cities there were detachments of men in civilian clothes, staffed by active and former military and police officers. At the same time, the military and police commanders denied the participation of their employees in extrajudicial reprisals and claimed that right-wing “death squads”, outside the control of the government, operate. The White Hand squadron, formed in June 1966, was best known. Initially, the White Hand was supposed to prevent President Montenegro from taking office, but then, after the big landowners and the military were convinced of Montenegro loyalty, the squadron began to act in the interests of government. The squadron information was provided by the military intelligence service and the general headquarters of the Guatemalan army. In August, 1966 was organized a mass dumping of leaflets "White Hand" from aircraft in cities and villages of Guatemala. The leaflets of Guatemalans called for supporting the actions of the army, regardless of their cruelty, and those who criticized the actions of the military were declared traitors to their homeland. In October, 1966 was blown up by a car in which Luis Augusto Turcios Lima, one of the leaders of the November 13 Revolutionary Movement and the Guatemalan Rebel Armed Forces, was traveling.
The death of Otto Rene Castillo
In March, 1967 was brutally murdered by Otto Rene Castillo (1936-1967). Otto René Castillo is the “Guatemalan Victor Hara.” A poet and revolutionary who combined creativity with political activity and participation in the struggle against American imperialism and its henchmen - the military of Guatemala's junta. He was born in the city of Casaltenango 25 April 1936, and after graduating from school he moved to the city of Guatemala, where he entered the university. From a young age, Castillo participated in the activities of left-wing opposition organizations, including the Guatemalan Labor Party. When patriotic President Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown in 1954, Otto René Castillo was forced to emigrate to neighboring Salvador. Despite his early years, an eighteen-year-old student was a fairly prominent figure in the country's left movement and had every reason to fear for his life. While in exile, Otto René Castillo met the legendary Salvadoran Communist poet Roque Dalton Garcia, who also actively participated in the local communist movement and was one of the founders of the Salvadoran Revolutionary Army of the people. During his residence in El Salvador, Otto René Castillo was actively engaged in literary work, he entered the local university law faculty.
When the Guatemalan dictator Colonel Armas was killed in 1957, Otto René Castillo returned to Guatemala, but in 1959 he left for study in Europe - to the German Democratic Republic. In the GDR, Castillo was educated at the University of Leipzig for five years, and only in 1964 did he return to his home country. Here he participated in the activities of the Guatemalan Labor Party. In the same 1964, during the next repressions of the government of Colonel Peralta Asurdia, the poet was arrested and thrown into prison, but he managed to escape and leave Guatemala. Castillo was again in Europe, where he participated in the World Festival of Youth and Students. In 1966, Castillo illegally snuck into Guatemala and joined the ranks of the Rebel Armed Forces. In the partisan movement, Otto René Castillo became responsible for advocacy and the organization of education. However, in March 1967, Mr. Otto René Castillo, his comrade Nora Pais Karkamo and several peasants were captured during one of the raids by government forces. For four days, the arrested were subjected to cruel torture on the territory of the military base of the Guatemalan army, and then burned alive on March 23 of 1967. Otto René Castillo was only thirty years old. Subsequently, a unit was created as part of one of the warring left radical groups, bearing the name of the poet Otto René Castillo.
The fate of the French Michel Firk (1937-1968) is also connected with the name of Otto René Castillo. Michel Firk was a French citizen of Jewish origin who was a member of the French Communist Party and worked as a film critic in the journal Positive. At 1962, Michelle moved to Algeria, where she established contacts with the National Liberation Front of Algeria. At this time she made a great contribution to the popularization of cinema of African and Asian countries in Europe. In 1963, Firk lived in Cuba for some time and then arrived in Guatemala to meet with the poet Otto René Castillo. Here Firk joined the Guatemalan Rebel Armed Forces and personally participated in the abduction of the American ambassador. Michel Firk was captured by the Guatemalan security forces and died in the dungeons: according to the official version, she committed suicide, according to the version of the revolutionaries, she was the victim of brutal torture in Guatemalan counterintelligence prison.
It was during the reign of the civilized “enlightened” president professor Montenegro that the Guatemalan army began to use the infamous tactics of “free zones”. When military intelligence received information that in certain villages partisan units had support among the local population, army units were ordered to burn with napalm not only forests, but also villages in the designated area. This was done in order to deprive the partisans of the opportunity to use the village for recreation and food. The military operated most toughly in the departments of Zacapa and Isabel, where in October 1966 the so-called "Operation Guatemala" was carried out.
The operation was managed by Colonel Carlos Arana Osorio (pictured), appointed commander of the Zacapa-Isabal military zone and Colonel Herman Chupin Barahona, appointed head of the garrison’s intelligence. Colonel Arana Osorio enlisted the support of the United States of America and also headed the anti-terrorism program, within which American instructors from the Green Berets divisions were sent to Guatemala. Under the direct supervision of Colonel Aran Osorio, armed groups of thugs were formed who committed horrific crimes against the civilian population of Sakapa and Isabel. The “death squads” invited mercenaries and ultra-right fanatics associated with military intelligence and police in Guatemala. Mario Sandoval Alarcon directly supervised the activities of the “death squads”. As a result of the actions of the “squadrons of death” and the army, thousands of civilians were killed in Zacapa, and Colonel Arana Osorio received the nickname “Butcher Sacapa” for incredible cruelty. Only from 1966 to 1968 in Guatemala were killed from 3 000 to 8 000 people. The main victims of the Guatemalan military were the Indians who inhabited the countryside of the country and engaged in agriculture. Under the pretext of fighting the partisans, government forces burned out entire villages and forest areas, and the “free zones” that emerged as a result of these criminal actions transferred to the latifundia and foreign companies. That is, the beginning genocide of the Indian population had not only a political, but also an economic background. Sometimes villages were destroyed that had nothing to do with the support of the partisans - only because these lands were attracted to the managers of a company or local tycoons - the latifundists. After the Spanish colonization of Central America, the Guatemalan Indians, the Mayans, once again had to face the terrible phenomenon of genocide based on ethnicity.
Naturally, the criminal actions of the Guatemalan government entailed an inevitable reaction from the Indian population - the latter has become even more active in supporting the actions of the Guatemalan Rebel Armed Forces, and the confrontation itself has assumed not only a political, but also an ethnic character. Government troops were recruited mainly from the mestizos (private and non-commissioned officers) and whites (officers), while the communist rebels recruited fighters from among the Indian peasants offended by the government. In connection with the actions of Montenegro, in the ranks of the Rebel Armed Forces of Guatemala, internal contradictions began. Relying on the support of Indians, the left-radical majority of the rebel movement reminded the communist leaders that the GPT leadership supported Montenegro's candidacy in the 1966 presidential elections. In addition, most of the rebels were guided by the ideology of Hevarism, while the leadership of the Communist Party held more moderate pro-Soviet views. The result of the internal contradictions was the split that followed at the beginning of 1968. The Guatemalan Labor Party left the Rebel Armed Forces and created an independent armed group - the Revolutionary Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias, FAR). Meanwhile, the internal political situation in the country for the left opposition has further deteriorated.
In July, 1970, Colonel Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio (1918-2003) became the president of Guatemala - that same “Butcher Zacapa”. Colonel Osorio, who came to power with the support of the military, said in his presidential speech that “If it is necessary to turn it into a graveyard to calm the country, I will do it.” Soon the colonel imposed a state of siege in Guatemala. In all localities of the country a curfew was set from 21 hours to 5 hours in the morning. During the curfew, the movement of any vehicles and people was prohibited, including no exceptions were made for fire trucks, ambulances, doctors and nurses. In fact, at night, only the military and the police could be active in Guatemala. Mass repressions against residents of the country who were somehow suspected of opposition were toughened. First of all, terror was launched against the peaceful Indian population in rural areas, which was officially explained by the need to "fight against terrorism and crime." In the cities, repression was carried out against the leftist and opposition intellectuals, primarily against students. In addition to the police and the army, death squads controlled by the government also participated in the repressions. Only during the first two months of the “state of siege” in the cities of the country were killed at least 700 people suspected of opposition sentiments. 26 September 1972 seized seven activists of the Guatemalan Labor Party in one of the districts of the city of Guatemala. Among them was a member of the GPT Central Committee who held the post of general secretary of the party with 1954, Bernardo Alvarado Monson (1925-1972), a famous Guatemalan male, forty years old. , from a young age participated in the student, and then in the rebel movement. It was under the leadership of Alvarado Monson that the concept of "popular war" was adopted by the Guatemalan Communists. Other Communists arrested along with Monson were Central Committee Secretary Mario Silva Honama, members of the Central Committee of the Guatemalan Labor Party, Carlos René Valle, Carlos Alvarado Sherry, Hugo Barrios Klee and Miguel Angel Hernandez, a member of the Fantina Rodriguez party and the worker Franco Santos. The next day, they were all killed by the Guatemalan military.
Total for 1970-1971. 7000 Guatemalans were killed in the country, another 8000 people died in 1972-1973. In October, 1971, despite the situation of general fear and violence, Guatemalan students ventured to strike. At San Carlos University 12, thousands of students went on strike, speaking out against the killing of citizens by security forces and demanding the lifting of the "state of siege." 27 November 1971 began a military operation on the main campus of the University of San Carlos. It was officially announced that the military is looking for hidden in the university weapon. 800 soldiers and officers were mobilized for searches on the campus, involved Tanks and helicopters, but no evidence was found of alleged terrorist activity by students. However, the "state of siege" continued until the end of 1972, when Colonel Aran Osorio officially announced that the rebel movement had suffered a crushing defeat. Around the time the “state of siege” was lifted, a number of leaders of the Guatemalan Labor Party disappeared without a trace. But even after the removal of the "state of siege" extrajudicial killings against opponents of the regime continued. So, only from January to September 1973, "death squads" killed 1 people. In total, according to human rights activists, during the four years of the reign of Colonel Aran Osorio in Guatemala, at least 314 people were killed - opposition activists and civilians.
In response to the actions of the Guatemalan junta, the revolutionary rebel forces became more active. At the end of 1960-x - the beginning of 1970-x. only guerrillas of the Guatemalan Rebel Armed Forces launched a series of attacks and seizures of high-ranking hostages. In 1968, the US ambassador to Guatemala, John Gordon Mine, and two American military advisers, Colonels John Webber and Ernest Munro, were killed. In 1970, the Rebel Armed Forces soldiers kidnapped Guatemala’s Foreign Minister Alberto Fuentes Mora, who was released in response to the release of a student leader arrested by Guatemalan special services. In addition, the rebels kidnapped and killed the German ambassador in Guatemala von Spreti, kidnapped the American attache Sean Holly, who was released in response to the release of a group of political prisoners - members of the Rebel Armed Forces.
In March, 1974 was held in Guatemala, presidential elections were held, which, however, did not affect the policy pursued by the government of the country. General Khel Eugenio Lauherud Garcia (1930-2009) became the new president who replaced Colonel Osorio the “butcher of Zacapa” as head of state. Like Osorio, Lauherud was a professional military of Norwegian origin. He received a military education in the United States of America, where he completed a training cycle at Fort Benning in the state of Georgia and graduated from the Command Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in the state of Kansas. In 1965-1968 Lauherudr served as Guatemala's military attache in the United States, and in 1968-1970. represented Guatemala on the Inter-American Defense Council. That is, he was directly responsible for the development of contacts of the Guatemalan army with the United States and pursued a pro-American policy in the armed forces of the country. Under Carlos Aran, Osorio Khel Lauherud took the post of chief of staff of the army, and then the minister of defense of the country. It is clear that the presidential election was just an imitation of the “democratic transfer of power”. In fact, the “butcher of Zakapy” handed over power to a worthy successor. Already in the first days after the vote, it became clear that the elections were held with serious violations, under the direct control of the military and with numerous falsifications. Nevertheless, the candidacy of Lauherud was supported by the Institutional Democratic Party and the ultra-right National Liberation Movement. Naturally, Lauherud continued the policy of repression against the left-wing opposition movement in the country. For example, on December 20, 1974 was arrested by the military and killed by the new General Secretary of the TUH, Umberto Alvarado Arellano, who replaced Bernardo Alvarado Monson, who was killed two years earlier.
Four "pillars of the guerrilla"
In the years of Lauderud’s rule, despite the harsh repressions against the opposition, the insurgency in the country intensified, which in the last years of Osorio’s rule slowed down its activity. So, as early as January 1972 in Guatemala, another armed organization emerged that quickly gained momentum in activity - the Guerrilla Army of the Poor. It was originally called the “New Military Revolutionary Organization” (Nueva Organización Revolucionaria de Combate (NORC)). Militants of the organization created a camp in the mountains in the municipality of Chahul.
In 1974, the first conference of the organization, renamed the Partisan Army of the Poor, was held. By 1975, the Partisan Army of the Poor was able to extend its activities to the mountainous regions of the northern municipalities of Guatemala, seeking the support of the Indian peasant population. To popularize the peasantry, the poor guerrilla army conducted two loud demonstrative "executions" of the most odious figures in the district - military commissar Guillermo Monson and the largest landowner José Luis Arenas, whom the peasants accused of over-exploitation of their agricultural workers. Later, the Guerrilla Army of the Poor extended its activities throughout the country, creating several guerrilla fronts: 1) Guerrilla front party named after Ernesto Guevara (northwestern regions of the country), 2) Ho Chi Minh guerrilla front (western areas of the country), 3) Guerrilla front Marco Antonio Iona Sosa Front (Northern Central Guatemala), 4) Augusto César Sandino Partisan Front (Central Guatemala), 5) Luis Thorsios Lima Partisan Front (Eastern Guatemala), 6 Partizansky Otto René Castillo Front (capital of the country is Guatemala), 7) November guerrilla party 13 (eastern parts of the country). In the ranks of the Partisan army of the poor, a Spaniard of Galician origin, priest Fernando Hoyos (1943-1982), was a supporter of “liberation theology”. The Guatemalan revolutionary internationalist José César Macias Mayor, better known as César Montes (pictured), became the commander of the guerrilla army of the poor. He was born in 1942, in 1961, he studied at the Faculty of Law of the University of San Cardos of Guatemala, and in 1962, he went to study medicine in Cuba. After returning to his homeland, César Montes participated in the creation of the November 13 Revolutionary Movement, in which he was deputy to Luis Thorsios Lima and was directly involved in the hostilities. In 1966, after the death of Lima, 24-year-old Cesar Montes led the Rebel Armed Forces, and in 1972, at the head of the squad from 15, people moved to Mexico. In 1972-1978 He led the guerrilla army of the poor, and then participated in the Salvadoran and Nicaraguan guerrillas on the side of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front and the Salvadoran National Liberation Front.
In 1976, Guatemala, under the leadership of General Lauheruda, attempted to annex Belize, but this plan failed and the country broke off diplomatic relations with Panama. The actions of the Guatemalan government angered even the old patrons in Washington. In 1977, the Jimmy Carter administration published a report criticizing Lauherud’s human rights policy. After that, the general made a statement about the refusal to accept further US military aid. New sources of military assistance were Israel, Spain, Taiwan and Yugoslavia. 5 March The next “presidential election” took place in Guatemala on March 1978. They were noted by the non-appearance of more than 60% of voters, and 20% of voters who came to the polls tore their ballots. Thus, in all fairness, the elections in Guatemala were illegitimate. Victory for them won the former Minister of Defense of the country, General Fernando Romeo Lucas Garcia (1924-2006). During his reign, insurgent activity in the country intensified. By the beginning of the 1980's. in Guatemala, there were four rebel fronts. The northern front covered the department of Petén, the southern front - the departments of Santa Rosa, Retalhuleu, Suchitepéquez and Escuintla, the central front - the capital of the country, Guatemala City and the surrounding settlements, the western front - the department of Chimaltenango. Armed resistance to the regime in the period under review was carried out by four main partisan organizations: 1) Rebel Armed Forces, 2) Revolutionary Armed Forces, 3) Guerrilla Army of the Poor, 4) A revolutionary organization of the armed people. The first three of them have already been mentioned above, and the Revolutionary Organization of the Armed People was created in 1979 by a group of young intellectuals and students of Guatemalan universities. It operated primarily in mountainous areas and was distinguished by a certain gentleness of actions compared to other revolutionary organizations of Guatemala. This was due to the fact that the leader of the group was Rodrigo Asturias Amago (1939-2005), better known as Gaspar Il. Rodrigo Asturias was the son of a classic of Guatemalan literature and the world famous writer Michael Angel Asturias (1899-1974), from the novel of which “Maize people” he took his pseudonym. The disunity of the four main insurgent organizations seriously hampered the success of the revolutionary movement in the country, so in May 1980 a secret meeting of the leadership of the Guatemalan Labor Party, the Rebel Armed Forces, the Partisan Army of the Poor and the Organization of the Armed People was held, where it was decided to create a Quartapatrita left-wing bloc ". 7 February 1982 was created by the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca, URNG), which brought together all four major partisan organizations in Guatemala.
"Riosmontism" - the policy of genocide
23 March 1982 in Guatemala, there was another coup d'état, as a result of which President General Romeo Lucas Garcia was removed from power. General José Efrain Rios Montt (born 1926) came to power in the country. Like most of his predecessors, Rios Montt was a professional military. The son of a small rural trader, Rios Montt, entered the military police school in 17 years, then graduated from the Military Academy and served in the land forces of Guatemala. In the spring of 1950, the 24-year-old officer was trained in the famous "School of the Americas". He took part in the overthrow of President Jacobo Arbens, after which he continued to serve in command positions in infantry units. In 1967-1972 Rios Montt was in charge of the operational management of the army headquarters, in 1970-1973. was the head of the Military Academy of Guatemala. In 1973, Brigadier General Rios Montt was appointed Chief of General Staff. In this post, he became famous for the brutal suppression of the peasants ’speeches in Sansiris. In 1974, he lost the election to General Lauherud, after which he served as military attaché in Spain until 1977. Having seized power, General Efrain Rios Montt established a tough authoritarian regime in Guatemala. The peculiarities of “riosmontism”, as Efrain Rios Montt’s specific system of views and practical actions was called by political scientists, were, firstly, militant anti-communism, and secondly, anti-Catholicism, which in itself was very remarkable for Catholic Guatemala.
In 1978, General Rios Montt changed his religion and moved from Catholicism to Protestantism, becoming a follower of the Pentecostal Church of the word. The Protestant reorientation of the general was explained, firstly, by his contacts with the United States through pastor Jerry Falwell, who was not only an evangelical preacher, but also one of the leaders of the American “new right”. Secondly, Rios Montt was very dissatisfied with the work of the Catholic Church in Latin America, because he considered it condoning the spread of communist and socialist ideology on the continent and referred to the participation of Catholic priests in the rebel movements. Immediately after coming to power, Rios Montt ordered to temporarily suspend all constitutional guarantees in the rural areas of the country and created courts empowered to impose the death penalty on everyone suspected of collaborating with the guerrillas. Repressions in Guatemala took on an unprecedented character even by the standards of the preceding military junta. So, from March to July 1982, 10 thousands of people were killed. Government self-defense patrols, officially called civil self-defense volunteer committees, were recruited to participate in anti-partisan operations, and informally simply “patrollers”. These patrols acted in accordance with the principle of "beans and bullets," proclaimed by Rios Montt - "if you are with us, we will feed you, and if not with us, we will shoot you." The number of pro-government armed patrols reached 1,5 million. The military commissars — specially delegated officers — were in charge of organizing the patrols, and the patrols included peasants who supported the government and received a certain reward for it. In just two years, tens of thousands of people became victims of the patruleros, the exact number of those killed during the reign of General Ríos Montt has not yet been established. In one and a half years of his reign, at least 50% of the total number of victims of the thirty-year civil war in Guatemala died. The political “face” of the dictatorship of Rios Montt was the Party of Anti-Communist Unity, led by ultra-rightist journalist Lionel Sisniega Otero Barrios (1925-2012). The Patruleros of General Ríos Montt became the main perpetrators of the Mayan-Indian genocide in Guatemala. The killing of tens of thousands of Indian peasants was carried out with the actual connivance of the United States and the approval of Ronald Reagan, who called Rios Montt "a man of great personal honesty and devotion." However, the anti-Catholic stance of Ríos Montt caused some discontent among traditionally oriented collaborators with the Catholic Church of Guatemalan senior officers.
In August, the 1983 of Rios Montt was deposed as a result of a military coup. The new president of the country was General Oscar Umberto Mejia Victores (born 1930), who held the post of Minister of National Defense in the government of Ríos Montt. He also enlisted the support of the United States and continued to carry out the genocide of the Indian population under the guise of fighting the communist rebels. Total for 1980-s. in Guatemala, the victims of the military and 200 patrollers 000 people, 83% of whom were Mayan Indians. Another 45 000 people were missing, which in fact also means their death.
End of civil war
The situation in the country began to change only in the middle of 1980's, when, against the background of the restructuring that had begun in the USSR and the weakening position of the socialist camp, the United States stopped seeing the need to support odious anti-communist regimes. In 1985, in Guatemala, the first civilian president was elected in twenty years — lawyer Marco Arevalo, who remained in that post until 1991. It was during his reign that peace negotiations began with guerrilla commanders, but Guatemalan ultra-right and reactionary-minded officers made every effort to breakdown of negotiations. Meanwhile, the situation in the country remained tense - by the middle of 1990, the rebels were already operating in the vicinity of the capital of the country, and in some areas they created liberated zones with their own administrative bodies. In the middle of 1994, the country's defense minister, Mario Enriquez, officially stated that despite thirty years of civil war, a military victory over the forces of Guatemalan national revolutionary unity was not possible and called for peace negotiations. In 1996, six major agreements to end the armed conflict were signed, and in December, 1996 signed the “Treaty on a Firm and Lasting Peace”, which ended the civil war - one of the bloodiest in Latin America.