The Political Parties of Guatemala

Guatemala is a beautiful country with a colorful culture dating back from the ancient Mayan civilization. However, this country is also known for its colorful and eventful political history.

It is said that a country’s political party is a reflection of its people who share the same ideas about the way the country should be governed. Guatemala has many political parties, two to three of which get a lot of votes in congress during elections. This article will attempt to introduce the reader to the various political parties in Guatemala.

One of the major political parties in Guatemala is the Democratic Union. This political party garnered 2.2% of the popular votes on November 2003 and 1.41% votes during the legislative elections held on September 2007.
Another political party is Encuentro por Guatemala. The name of this political party means “gathering” or “meeting” for Guatemala. First started on 2007, it aims to promote the indigenous people of the country. This party often receives impressive votes in congress.

The Grand National Alliance (Gran Alianza Nacional, GANA) is another political party in Guatemala. Formed in 2003, it was created as an electoral alliance to fight the 2003 election. It won 24.3% of the votes on that year. This part is an alliance of the Patriotic Party (Partido Patriota), the Reform Movement (Movimiento Reformador) and the National Solidarity Party (Partido Solidaridad Nacional).

Another political party in Guatemala is the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity. This part started out as a guerrilla movement. Later on, it became a legal party in 1998 after peace negotiations during the Guatemalan Civil War. This party is an alliance of the Guerrilla Army of the Poor, the Revolutionary Organization of the People in Arms, the Rebel Armed Forces, and the National Directing Nucleus of PGT.

The Guatemalan Republican Front is another political party which was created by Efraín Ríos Montt, a former Guatemalan president and dictator in 1990.

Another political party is the National Advancement Party, which was created in 2003. It obtained 10.9% of the total votes in the 2003 elections. In 2007, it received 4.58% votes in congress.

The National Unity of Hope (Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza or UNE) is anther political party which defines itself as a social-democratic and social-Christian party. In 2003, it won 17.9% of the votes in congress. In 2007, it won 22.8% and 48 seats in congress.

Another political party is the Nationalist Change Union (Unión del Cambio Nacionalista) which secured 4.06% of the votes in 2007.

The Patriotic Party (Partido Patriota) is another political party in Guatemala. Founded in 2001, it won 24.3% of the votes in congress during the 2003 elections and won 24.3% of the votes in 2007.
Another political party is the Social Action Centre (Centro de Acción Social) which secured 4.89 % of the votes in the race for national-list deputies in 2003.

The Unionist Party (Partido Unionista) is another political party in Guatemala. It is said to be a conservative political party. It won 6.2% of the popular votes in 2003 and won 8 seats in the 2007 congressional elections.
There are other smaller political parties in Guatemala and many others which will soon rise. Indeed, Guatemala is an interesting country because it has a rich and eventful political history.

Is Guatemala a good place to visit?

For some a trip to the Californian coast might be on the cards this summer. Lounging on a beach in the glorious rays of sunshine is rarely a bad idea. But for some, a week on the lounger just doesn’t quite get the blood pumping enough; enter Guatemala.

Guatemala is the northernmost Central American nation, bordering Mexico. It’s rich beauty, and biodiversity, along with it’s deep rooted cultural heritage which makes it an extremely desirable country to visit. But the country has a bloody history of civil war, and has suffered political tensions right up until the present day.

Bloody History…

The civil war ran some 36 years from 1960-1996. The result was, 200,000 people killed or missing. The 83% of which are believed to be indigenous Mayan people. Of these crimes, the vast majority were carried out by state forces and military groups against rebel groups or civilians.

In 1996 peace contracts were signed between the rebels and the government which involved greater human rights. Despite this, the country remains largely in turmoil; violence and threats play a part in government and in the lives of civilians, and streets gangs operate with relative immunity.

Extreme Weather…

To top it all off travellers to Guatemala are also advised to be aware of the climate and of the extremely active volcanoes and earthquakes. Although admittedly this could be an attraction for some!

Underneath it’s political tensions, warnings of dangerous gangs and occasionally provocative weather, lies a unique and rich culture; one that the avid traveller cannot overlook. The avid traveller may recognise that he cannot understand the country fully until he visits and that if the dangers are recognized and avoided. A stunning and unique country awaits exploration.

But it might be worth it…

If stepping off the lounger and out of your comfort zone, sounds appealing. Guatemala has more to offer than nomorerack! Here are a few Guatamala reasons to get you moving;

Mayan Ruins; The country boosts many Mayan temples and city ruins including the Tikal National Park, which is the largest archeological site of Mayan civilisation. Set in rainforests of a recognized national park; featuring spider monkeys and wild. Colourful parakeets, this is an experience that can’t be missed. There is also the Yaxha, which features dozens of temples set on the banks of the Lago de Yaxha.

Extreme Nature; The country features many mountains and volcanoes, trail walks through the rainforests, and 14 eco-regions. Try a tough hike up Volcan Santiaguita, or a walk within touching distance of molten lava at Pacaya. Or spend a week by the acclaimed lake Lago de Atitlan; considered by some, including Aldous Huxley, to be the most beautiful on the planet. Or gaze out over the turquoise lagoons of Semuc Champey.

The Culture and People; It’s not often you get the opportunity to explore Mayan heritage, or a culture so different from your own. Check out the Ixil region to see living traditions of Maya in practice. Be sure to catch some traditional markets to see the hustle and bustle of local life and look at some home-made traditional products. Chichicastenango is a great example, and just about anything can be found there, from food to tapestries. Above all, don’t be afraid to talk to the locals, and be curious about their ways!

Is Guatemala worth a visit? If you can come to terms with the dangers, then it is a place that would warrant many months of travelling! If danger isn’t really your idea of a good time, then a week on the sun lounger might still be a good idea.