Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2017, 09:30 GMT

Patterns of Global Terrorism 1996 - Guatemala

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Publication Date 1 April 1997
Cite as United States Department of State, Patterns of Global Terrorism 1996 - Guatemala, 1 April 1997, available at: [accessed 21 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Guatemala's 36-year insurgency, the oldest in the hemisphere, formally came to an end 29 December with the signing of a final peace accord between the Guatemalan Government and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) guerrillas. The URNG is an umbrella organization formed in 1982 when four separate guerrilla/terrorist groups joined together: the Revolutionary Organization of the Armed People (ORPA), the Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP), the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR), and factions of the Guatemalan Labor (Communist) Party (PGT).

President Alvaro Arzu, who took office in January, assigned top priority to achieving a final peace accord in 1996. Negotiations resumed in an atmosphere of mutual confidence, and both sides suspended offensive military actions in March. Major agreements on economic and military issues were signed in May and September, although negotiations were temporarily suspended in October following the URNG's kidnapping of the 86-year-old handicapped wife of a prominent businessman. The victim was released unharmed in exchange for the release of a high-ranking guerrilla commander. The commander of ORPA accepted responsibility for the kidnapping and resigned from the URNG leadership, enabling negotiations to resume.

Despite the ongoing negotiations and the March suspension of hostilities, which held for the remainder of the year, isolated incidents by renegade URNG elements, or by common criminals claiming to be URNG, were reported. Several terrorist bombings by unknown perpetrators occurred; at least two persons died, and several were injured in the bombings. Several explosive devices were accompanied by URNG leaflets.

As part of the peace accords, URNG guerrillas will demobilize in the first half of 1997, under verification of UN military observers. Ex-URNG members will then form a legal political party.

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