Guatemala

Women conference in Guatemala with members of the Partido Unionista

Population: 14.918 million
Area: 108 889 km2
GDP (PPP): 126 billion dollar (2015 estimate)
GDP per capita (PPP): 7 900 $ (2015 estimate)
Rate of growth: 1.82 % (2013 estimate)
Head of state and head of government: Jimmy Ernesto Morales Cabrera

Guatemala gained its independence from Spain in 1821. During the latter part of the 20th century, Guatemala was plagued by a 36-year long civil war and by political instability with a long row of civil and military governments succeeding one another. In 1996, a peace treaty was signed that put an end to a war that had claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands. However, the conflict has had long standing effects on Guatemalan society. According to the UN, human rights have been infringed on in recent years. Practices such as torture and abuse are utilized by the police, which is a major problem. Rule of law is weak and corruption within the legal system is pervasive. There is no state censorship and freedom of speech and freedom of press are recognized, as well as freedom of religion, freedom of association and freedom to convene. Guatemala’s largest demographic group is the indigenous population which is unique by Latin American standards.

Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America with a GDP per capita roughly one-half that of the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. The agricultural sector accounts for 13.6 % of GDP and 31 % of the labour force. Key agricultural exports include sugar, coffee, bananas and vegetables. Guatemala is the top remittance recipient in Central America as a result of Guatemala’s large expatriate community in the U.S. These inflows are a primary source of foreign income, equivalent to over one-half of the country’s exports or one-tenth of its GDP.

The last parliamentary and presidential elections took place in January 2016. Jimmy Morales Cabrera from Frente de Convergencia Nacional (FCN) was elected president with 67,4 % of the votes. FCN was established in January 2008. It was initiated by a group of retired army officers, including veterans of Guatemalan Civil War, affiliated with the Military Veterans Association of Guatemala (AVEMILGUA).

Next elections take place in September 2019.

It is a stated goal of the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation to educate female and youth decision-makers. In 2012, a number of conferences on the theme “Empoderamiento de Mujeres” took place with participants from different Latin American countries. Concurrently with these conferences, youth conferences were arranged on the theme “Principles for a Free Society”.

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