Guatemala | Guatemala Signs Several Trade Agreements
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- Protracted Civil War Results in Huge Number of Civilian Deaths
- Army Blamed for Most of the Abuses in Civil War
- Guatemala Signs Several Trade Agreements
- Pérez Molina Elected President On His Second Try
- 7.4 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Guatemala
- Court Throws Out Montt's Genocide Conviction
- President Pérez Molina Resigns Due to Corruption Allegations
Guatemala Signs Several Trade Agreements
To stimulate the economy, Guatemala, along with El Salvador and Honduras, signed a free trade agreement with Mexico in June 2000. In Aug. 2001, plans for tax increases prompted widespread, and often violent, protests.
In July 2003, the country's highest court ruled that former coup leader and military dictator Rios Montt, responsible for the massacre of tens of thousands of civilians during the civil war, was eligible to run for president in November. The ruling conflicted with the constitution, which bans anyone who seized power in a coup from running for the presidency. But in November, Rios Montt was soundly defeated by two candidates, conservative Oscar Berger and center-leftist Alvaro Colom. In the runoff election in December, Berger was elected president.
In 2005, the government ratified a free-trade agreement (CAFTA) with the U.S.
Three Salvadoran politicians, all members of the Central American Parliament, and their driver were found murdered on a road near Guatemala City in Feb. 2007. Four Guatemalan police officers were arrested in connection with the murders and later shot dead in their prison cells. Three other officers were named as suspects. Guatemala's security minister, the national police chief, and the director of the country's prisons all resigned in the scandal.
Fourteen candidates, including 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú, competed in the first round of presidential elections in September 2007. Otto Pérez Molina, a former general, and businessman Álvaro Colom advanced to the second round. After a vitriolic campaign, Álvaro Colom, of the National Unity for Hope party, defeated Otto Pérez Molina in the presidential election on November 4, 2007, 52% to 47%.