Guatemala Military

Guatemala is a country located in Central America. With a population of around 17 million people, it is one of the most populous countries in the region. Guatemala is a presidential republic and its military consists of three branches: the National Army, Air Force and Navy. The National Armed Forces are responsible for defending the country’s borders and sovereignty, as well as providing security to its citizens. In terms of defense spending, Guatemala spends approximately $1 billion annually on its military, making it one of the highest defense spending nations in Central America. The country also participates in several United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions such as those in El Salvador and Honduras. Guatemala is also a member of both the Central American Security Commission (CASC) and Central American Integration System (SICA), and has close ties with other CASC members such as Costa Rica and Panama. See naturegnosis to learn more about the country of Guatemala.


The defense was reduced and reorganized after the peace treaty in 1996. The armed opposition of about 1,000 men was demobilized under UN control. The defense encompasses (2009) 16,000 men enlisted with 63,000 men in reserve and is organized into 7 brigades, of which 6 are territorial, 36 patrol boats, 10 fighter aircraft and 7 armed helicopters. Semi-military security forces amount to about 19,000 men. The material is semi-modern and of Western origin.

Defense costs decreased in 1985-2007 from 1.8% to 0.4% of GDP. Guatemala participates in UN peacekeeping operations in Congo (Kinshasa) (MUNOC) and Haiti (MINUSTAH) as well as with observers in Ivory Coast (UNOCI), Lebanon (UNIFIL), Nepal (UNMIN) and Sudan (UNMIS). To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that GTM stands for Guatemala.

Guatemala Army

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1993 President makes a coup

On May 25, 1993, with the support of a group of officers, President Serrano conducted a coup. Several articles of the Constitution were repealed, Congress and the Supreme Court dissolved. Following extensive national and international pressure – i.e. from the United States – on June 1, President Serrano was forced to withdraw. After several days of uncertainty, former human rights ombudsman Ramiro De León Carpio was appointed new head of state for the period Serrano had left.

De León Carpio conducted a purge of the officers who supported Serrano. Changes were made to 5 commands. Shortly after, Jorge Carpio Nicolle was murdered. He was the president’s cousin and leader of the UCN party.

Since the mid-1980’s, the indigenous peoples’ organizations had fought for the right to excavate the mass graves where the military had thrown the victims of its massacres. In November 1993, several such secret cemeteries were excavated. They revealed the remains of 177 women and children killed during the 1982 Río Negro massacre.

Despite an intense campaign against the Civil Defense Patrols PAC and the forced recruitment to the military, President De León Carpio ran from his previous stance on the two themes, declaring that as long as there was an armed conflict in the country, both institutions would be preserved. On August 5, the government declared that the archive of persons deemed “dangerous” by the state had “disappeared”. The archive should have been used to investigate human rights violations.

The government’s plan for 1994-95 was presented in August. It reaffirmed the continuation of structural reforms, gave priority to the liquidation of the state’s intervention in the economy, the implementation of a financial reform and the privatization of public companies.

One of the important goals of De León Carpio was the fight against corruption within the state apparatus. On August 26, the president demanded that members of parliament and the Supreme Court resign. This triggered a conflict between the President and Parliament, which led to a battle between economic and party interests, culminating in an agreement on a constitutional reform between the President and Parliament. January 30, 1994, was set as the date for holding a referendum in which the people were to pronounce on the clean-up of corruption within the state apparatus and the implementation of a constitutional reform.

After 22 days of peaceful occupation of the local OAS office in Guatemala, conducted by members of the farmer’s organization CUC and the widows’ organization CONAVIGUA, 5000 Indians conducted a demonstration demanding the PAC be abolished.