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Title: Guatemala, the country of the future

Author: Charles M. Pepper

Release Date: December 10, 2011 [EBook #38264]

Language: English

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The Country of the Future



[Pg 1]

The Country of the Future



[Pg 3]


I.   A Brief Description 9
II.   A Progressive President and his Policies 20
III.   The Soil and its Riches 30
IV.   Trade and Markets 45
V.   Climate and Immigration 56
VI.   International Relations 64
VII.   The Land of Travel and History 70


Portrait of His Excellency President Don Manuel Estrada Cabrera Frontispiece
Monument to Columbus opposite 16
President and Members of Cabinet "       24
Vista of Aguna Plantation "       32
Bridge over Motagua River "       40
Street in Escuintla "       60
Plaza of Jocotenango, Guatemala City "       68
Landscape of Guastotoya River "       72

[Pg 5]


President and Cabinet.

Señor Don Manuel Estrada Cabrera,
President of the Republic.

Señor Don Juan Barrios, M.
Minister of Foreign Relations.

Señor Don Juan J. Argueta,
Minister of Government and Justice.

Señor Don José Flamenco,
Minister of Public Improvement (Fomento).

Señor General Don Luis Molina,
Minister of War.

Señor Don Guillermo Aguirre,
Minister of the Treasury.

Señor Don J. Antonio Mandujano,
Minister of Public Instruction.

[Pg 6]


Señor Don Jorge Muñoz,
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary,
Highlands, Washington, D. C.

Joaquin Yela,
Consul General, 2 Stone St., New York City.

D. Kingsland,
Consul General, 1521 N. 11th St., St. Louis, Mo.

Felipe Galicia V.,
Consul General, 421 Market St., San Francisco, Cal.

C. Morton Stewart, Jr.,
Consul General, Baltimore, Md.

Julio Novella,
Consul General, P. O. Box 1374, New Orleans, La.

Shirley Crawford,
Consul, Louisville, Ky.

Gustavo Niederlein,
Consul, Philadelphia, Pa.

Edwin R. Heath,
Consul, 218 Rialto Bldg., Kansas City, Kans.

Benjamin Preston Clark,
Consul, 92 Water St., Boston, Mass.

Vicente J. Vidal,
Vice-Consul, Pensacola, Fla.

Manuel Maria Sama,
Consul, Mayaguez, P. R.

M. Merrow,
Consul, Galveston, Texas.

Andres J. Balliet,
Consul, Seattle, Wash.

Ormond W. Follin,
Consul, San Diego, Cal.

[Pg 7]


Leslie Combs,
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary,
Guatemala City

Alfred A. Winslow,
Consul General, Guatemala City.

William Owen,
V. & D. Consul General, Guatemala City.

Carl G. Heitman,
Consular Agent, Champerico.

Edward Reed,
Consular Agent, Livingston.

Samuel Wolford,
Consular Agent, Ocos.

Frank Sims Swan,
Consular Agent, San José de Guatemala.

[Pg 9]

CHAPTER I. A Brief Description.

The Republic of Guatemala, which name is derived from the Indian word "Quanhitemallan," signifying "land covered with trees," has been described as the privileged zone of Central America. This is because of its resources, its climate, and its accessibility.

The country is easily reached from all directions through its seaports on both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and through its rapidly growing system of railways. From California, from the neighboring ports of other Central American countries and from Panama there is regular and reliable steamship service on the Pacific coast. On the Atlantic or Gulf side from New York, New Orleans, Galveston and Mobile there is frequent steamship service, while there is also connection at Colon with English and German lines. The steamers on the Pacific coast connect at San José with the Guatemala Central Railway, which affords easy means of arriving at the capital city and the great coffee-raising districts. These are reached by the branch to Mazatenango, which forms a junction with the Occidental Railway between Champerico and San Felipe. On the Atlantic side is Puerto Barrios, which will derive additional importance from the early completion of the Northern Railway and which will place New Orleans within five days or less of Guatemala City, Chicago six days, and New York seven days. Besides the means of communication afforded jointly by the steamship lines and the railroads at an early date there will be complete and uninterrupted railway communication with St. Louis and other points of the Mississippi Valley through Mexico. The means of communication and transportation are given more fully later on.

Geographically the Republic of Guatemala is the heart of intertropical America. It is the most northern part of Central America, in shape like a polygon, with the southern[Pg 10] side the longest. It lies approximately between north latitude 13° and 42' and 17° and 49', and between 88° and 10' and 92° and 30' longitude west of Greenwich. Its area is 50,600 square miles—the greatest length from north to south being 360 and from east to west 390 miles. The Pacific coast line with indentations is nearly 400 miles and the Atlantic line about 150 miles in length.

Striking Physical Aspects.

In its physical aspects Guatemala is a country of mountains, tropical forests, lakes and rivers and coast plains. It was described by Humboldt more than one hundred years ago as extremely fertile and well cultivated, and this description holds good to-day, though there are vast areas of rich agricultural land yet open to profitable cultivation and only awaiting immigration to develop their richness.

The Guatemalan Andes consist of three minor mountain systems. These are the northern zone, chiefly of denuded cones, 1,500 to 2,000 feet in height, with plains lying between them; the central zone consisting of ranges and chains running east and west with many marked elevations rising from 7,000 to 14,000 feet; and the southern zone consisting of eruptive chains which culminate in many notable volcanic peaks, some of which are more than 14,000 feet in height. These are known as the Cordilleras and they parallel the Pacific Ocean.

There are three river systems emptying respectively into the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and the Pacific. Some of the streams flowing into the Gulf of Mexico are navigable by steamboats of light draught.

Of the Atlantic tributaries the principal rivers are the Sarstoon, the Motagua and the Dulce; the latter empties into the Gulf of Honduras. Navigation is possible on the Motagua for about 75 miles from the mouth. The rivers flowing into the Pacific include the Paz, the Suchiate, and the Patulul. These have their sources in the Andean Cordilleras or the neighboring highlands. There is also the Michatoya which is navigable for small boats to its [Pg 11]confluence with the Maria Linda. Generally speaking, a few of the rivers on the southern coast might be made navigable for short distances with boats of very light draught.

Guatemala has a series of inland lakes which include Izabal, Atitlan, Amatitlan, which are capable of steam navigation; Peten, Ayarza and Guija. The largest of these is Lake Izabal, which is 58 miles long by 12 miles in width and which has its outlet through the Dulce River into the Gulf of Honduras.

The cities and municipal districts having a population of 10,000 and upwards are as follows:

Guatemala City 100,000
Antigua 10,000
Quezaltenango 25,000
Totonicapan 33,000
Coban 23,000
Chiquimula 13,000
Jalapa 13,000
Escuintla 13,000
Salamá 13,000
Amatitlan 10,000
Zacapa 12,000
Flores 13,000
Jutiapa 14,000
Huehuetenango 10,000
Retalhuleu 10,000
Sololá 15,000
Mazatenango 10,000
San Marcos 10,000
Atitlan 10,000

The Handsome Capital City.

Guatemala, the capital, is the largest city in Central America. The location is unusually healthy, being 5,000 feet above sea level. The city is laid out on a splendid scale with many fine avenues and parks. It is improving its system of tramways by changing to electricity as the[Pg 12] motor power. The public buildings are especially notable. Among the principal ones are the Palaces of the Government, the Presidency, the Legislative Power, the Judicial Power, the Municipality, and the Archbishopric; the Cathedral and other magnificent churches; the Ministry of Public Improvement (Fomento), the Mint, the Conservatory of Music, the general offices of accounts, of police, and of liquors and internal revenue; the custom-house, the national institutes of young men, of young ladies and of the native race, the first of which is provided with a meteorological observatory; the schools of law, medicine, engineering, polytechny, and arts; the children's college and a large number of public schools; the Colon theatre; the registry of real estate, the national printing-office, the post-office, the National Museum; the military hospital, and the general hospitals, the asylums for the insane and for convalescents and invalids; the central and the Calvary markets; the penitentiary and the artillery, cavalry, and Guard of Honor and San Francisco barracks; San José and Matamoros forts, and a very large number of other imposing edifices. The American Club, which has several hundred members, mostly citizens of the United States, occupies fine quarters.

Some of the parks, plazas, and public drives are adorned with very beautiful marble or bronze statues. Among the principal ones are the bronze monument of Christopher Columbus in the central park and the marble one of the same historic personage in the garden of the Colon Theatre; that of General J. Rufino Barrios and that of Don Miguel Garcia Granados in the boulevard of the Reforma; and that of Friar Bartolomew de Las Casas in the campus of the Institute of the Indian race. The last three statues are of bronze.

The seaports of Guatemala are of a varied character. Their value grows every day because of the increased commerce that is resulting from the development of the country under the industrial policies of President Estrada Cabrera. On the Atlantic the leading ports are Livingston, Izabal,[Pg 13] Santo Tomas, and Puerto Barrios. Of these Puerto Barrios is easily first. It lies at the extremity of the Gulf of Amatique, is spacious and is well protected against winds. As the terminus of the Guatemalan Northern Railway it is assured of a very extensive trade both in exports and in imports. Puerto Barrios is not only a receiving and distributing center for Guatemala, but also for a considerable portion of the neighboring Republic of Salvador, which has no port on the Atlantic.

The chief ports on the Pacific side are San José, Champerico, and Ocos. By far the largest amount of business is done through the port of San José, which is the terminus of the Guatemalan Central Railroad. It has extensive quays and other facilities for navigation.

Ocean Transportation Facilities.

Guatemala is well supplied with ocean transportation facilities, several of the steamship companies receiving aid from the government. On the Pacific coast there is the Pacific Mail which maintains a regular fortnightly service with extra vessels during the coffee season and which touches at the ports between San Francisco and Panama. The German line known as the Kosmos puts the Guatemalan ports in communication with the West Coast of South America as well as with the ports of California and Mexico. It carries both passengers and freight. There are also numerous small coasting vessels. It is probable that service will be resumed by the various Chilean lines which formerly proceeded to San Francisco, touching at Guatemalan and other ports, but which of recent years have not gone north of Panama. All the vessels have excellent passenger accommodations.

From the Atlantic ports there are ships engaged in the fruit trade with New York and Boston, some of which carry passengers. Usually, however, passengers prefer to travel by way of New Orleans or Mobile, from either of which cities every Thursday there is a vessel plying directly to Puerto Barrios. The most complete service is that maintained by the United Fruit Company.

[Pg 14]

In view of the growing development on the Atlantic slope and of the commerce which is certain to result there is an excellent opportunity for an increased steamship service with the ports of the United States. The time could be greatly lessened with advantages both in the transportation of freight and in the benefit to passengers. The policy of the government towards steamship lines both as relates to port charges and to other measures is a most liberal one and every inducement is offered to engage in furnishing additional facilities, which will shorten the time between the different points and increase the frequency of communication.

Growth of Railroad System.

The railway system of Guatemala under the administration of President Estrada Cabrera is certain to be the most useful means of developing the country. Every encouragement is given to capital to engage in railroad enterprises. The general plan includes both an interoceanic railroad and links in the intercontinental or north and south lines. No measure of President Estrada Cabrera's administration has been of greater importance than his action in securing the completion of the Northern Railway, which will be open for traffic throughout its entire length by the end of 1906. This places the capital and the whole interior of the country in direct communication with Puerto Barrios and insures a very heavy decrease in the cost of freight both for the agricultural exports and for the merchandise and other imports. The line runs from Guatemala City to El Rancho and thence to Puerto Barrios. At various times concessions were given for building the different sections, but circumstances caused many of them to be almost abandoned.

In the face of repeated discouragements President Estrada Cabrera took up the subject with resolute spirit and with the sanction of the National Assembly made a contract with a syndicate of which the principals were Sir William C. Van Horne, the celebrated railroad man,[Pg 15] who completed the Canadian Pacific Railway in the face of monumental difficulties and who subsequently built the Cuba Central Railway; and Minor C. Keith, of the United Fruit Company, who for a third of a century had been identified with various successful enterprises in Central America. Subsequently the Guatemala Central Railway took a share in the enterprise and also German banking and coffee interests. Under the contract no export duty is to be laid on agricultural exports transported over the railroad except coffee and the Company is given the right to fix its passenger and freight charges on a gold basis. There were many engineering difficulties to be overcome, the chiefest of which was the bridging of the Motagua River. The material for this railway construction was imported principally from the United States, the rails from Maryland and the bridgework across the Motagua and other rivers from Pittsburg.

The importance of this Northern Railway to the development of Guatemala is incalculable. It insures the opening up of a very rich country which means a great addition to the exports of Guatemala and it also should bring a large immigration because of the facilities for easy communication and access to the markets of the United States which it will afford. With the operation of the Northern Railway in connection with the Guatemala Central, the country will have a through railway line from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean, 270 miles in length. While the interior development is the chief benefit of this through railway system, it is not unlikely that during the years that must pass until the Panama Canal is completed some of the international traffic which cannot be accommodated on the railway line across the Isthmus will find a cheap and expeditious passage across Guatemala.

On the Pacific slope the leading railway system is the Guatemala Central. It was built by C. P. Huntington and is one of the best railroads anywhere south of the Rio Grande. Though of narrow gauge the roadbed was laid for standard gauge, and this change can be made at any[Pg 16] time. Unlike most foreign railways the Guatemala Central maintains the American system of checking baggage. Its main line and branches cover the coffee-raising districts of the Pacific coast section of Guatemala. The Occidental Railroad has about 50 miles of track and the Ocos line 20 miles. Both of these are on the Pacific slope.

Comprehensive Railway Policy.

It is worth knowing that while the interoceanic line approaches completion Guatemala is making decided progress in the links of the Pan-American or intercontinental north and south trunk line. From a junction with the Northern a branch will run south to Zacapa and ultimately will be extended into Salvador. Towards the north there is only a section of 30 miles to be completed in order to prolong the Guatemalan system to Ayutla on the border of Mexico and this will be done as soon as the extension of the Mexican lines to the boundary are completed. These extensions are to be finished within two years, so it may reasonably be said that by the end of 1907, if not sooner, a through railway journey will be possible from San Francisco, Chicago, or New York to the capital of Guatemala. The importance of this railway building was shown by Senator Stephen B. Elkins, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce, in a speech made at the dinner given the Pan-American Railway Committee by the Hon. H. G. Davis. In his speech Senator Elkins said that the freight on coffee, which now approximates $20 per ton or $1,000 on a carload of 50 tons, would be cheapened till it came down to $250 per carload, or $5 per ton.



The railroad laws of Guatemala are thus explained in my official report as Commissioner of the Pan-American Railway:

"The railways of Guatemala are regulated by the provisions of the Commercial Code and by the general railway law known as Decree No. 566, dated February 1, 1898. By the terms of this decree persons or companies seeking franchises are required to submit the plans to the Department of Fomento; when indorsed by that Department the sanction of the Council of State is sought, and finally the[Pg 17] approval of the National Legislature. All contracts celebrated by the executive power have to be approved by the National Legislature. The contracts may be with designated individuals, with persons acting for others, or for companies that are to be formed.

"Concessions can be granted with subsidy or without it, guaranteeing or not the capital which may be invested, with an interest proportionate to the product. The Government shall include in the estimates the share of pecuniary responsibilities required for fulfilling the obligation contracted.

"The State may exempt the enterprise from the payment of every class of contributions, from the use of stamped paper and fiscal dues, for the time which it may consider just or opportune, but in every instance the exemptions shall be specified in the contract.

"The right of eminent domain or expropriation for the benefit of grantees holding franchises is enforced. The Government also undertakes to procure uniformity in the gauge and the rails.

"The Government offers every inducement to promote the extension and development of railroads in the country. The best evidence of its policy toward legitimate and genuine capital is shown in the terms of the contract for the completion of the Northern Railroad.

"The engineering difficulties of railroad construction in Guatemala are not grave, as the lines skirt the foothills of the great agricultural regions. The immense natural resources, consisting of the products both of the tropical and the temperate climates, such as coffee, sugar, tobacco, the cereals; the vast pasturage for live stock; the undeveloped timber industries, and the unexploited mines, all open up prospects for profitable traffic."

In addition to its railways Guatemala seeks to maintain a complete system of highways or cart roads. Among the most important cart roads which have recently been built or are now under construction, are those from the capital to San Juan Sacatepequez, San Pedro and San Raymundo. There is also a cart road between Huehuetenango and[Pg 18] Quezaltenango; one from Coban to Quiche which will join the departments of the north with the rich western section of the Republic; from Totonicapan to Quiche; that between Ovejero and Trujillo, which will place in communication the departments of Jutiapa and Jalapa; that from Tumbador to San Marcos; that from Solola to Panajachel; that from Chicacao to Nahualate; and finally the highway from San Jeronimo and Rancho San Augustin, which will join the department of Baja Verapaz with Zacapa. All these roads serve as new arteries for the development and the enlargement of commerce and agriculture and this has been the special care of President Estrada Cabrera, who has provided the means for opening, wherever possible, the necessary ways of communication.

Distances between the capital city and the principal points of the country are as follows:

Antigua 27
Chimaltenango 36
Amatitlan 18
Escuintla 43 ½
Cuajiniquilapa 42
Solola 90
Totonicapan 111
Quezaltenango 120
Mazatenango 138
Retalhuleu 153
San Marcos 165
Huehuetenango 195
Santa Cruz de Quiche 96
Salamá 69
Coban 126
Flores 321
Izabal 216
Zacapa 126
Chiquimula 135
Jalapa 75
Jutiapa 87

[Pg 19]

Postal and Cable Service.

The means of facilitating intercourse both among its own people and with the outside world has always been encouraged by the government of Guatemala.

The Republic is a member of the International Postal Union. It has an excellent post-office service, both foreign and domestic. Complete information is given in the Postal Code of the Republic. During the last year the number of pieces of mail received in all the offices of the Republic was nearly 5,000,000, while the mail matter transmitted amounted to 3,653,000 separate pieces. The telegraph and telephone are nationalized and are controlled and operated by the Government, though there are also some private telephone lines in the capital. The national telegraph lines have a total length of about 5,300 kilometers, 3,290 miles, and the telephone lines of 500 kilometers, 310 miles. The number of telegrams transmitted in a given year was 1,106,832. The Government is constantly constructing new lines both for telegraph and telephone service. At the present time there are nearly 200 telegraph offices and about 100 telephone offices. The rates both for telegraph and telephone messages, which are payable in Guatemalan currency, are quite moderate. A telegram of 10 words to any part of the Republic costs about 5 cents in gold. The long distance telephone service is at the rate of about 15 cents for a five minutes' conversation.

The cable service is maintained by the Central and South American Telegraph Company, whose main office is at San José. The following are the charges per word in gold:

Guatemala to points in the United States 55 cts.
       "      "      " Great Britain 80 cts.
       "      "      " France 80 cts.
       "      "      " Germany 80 cts.
       "      "      " Canada 58 cts.
       "      "      " Central America   29 to 32 cts.
       " Havana, Cuba 66 cts.
       " points in Mexico 31 to 44 cts.
       " City of Panama 37 cts.
       " City of Colon 47 cts.

[Pg 20]

CHAPTER II. A Progressive President and His Policies.

Guatemala in order to fulfil its destiny as the country of the future must be assured of stable and progressive government hospitable to foreign capital. To insure these things it is necessary to have the right man at the head of affairs. No one now questions that Guatemala possesses this advantage in the person of Manuel Estrada Cabrera, whose term as President will not expire till 1911.

The best test of any public man entrusted with the responsibility of government is the opinion of disinterested foreign observers whose position gives them the opportunity to judge. This opinion was voiced by Mr. Leslie Combs, the American Minister Plenipotentiary to Guatemala, on the occasion of a New Year's reception by President Estrada Cabrera (1905), when the diplomatic corps called on the President in a body. Speaking for himself and for his colleagues of the Diplomatic Corps Minister Combs on that occasion said:

"Upon such an occasion as this criticism or compliment would alike be out of place, but it may be permitted to mention the wonderful development in Mexico in the past ten years, the great work now in hand to the south and to predict that Guatemala in material wealth and well-being has a great future before her. We hope this will be realized in your next administration and that this year will distinctly mark its advent.

"The wise base their hopes of the future upon their experiences of the past and we look to the peace and order maintained by your administration in the past seven years as a guarantee that your people may expect as much in those that are to follow.

[Pg 21]

"We remember that called to your position of responsibility by a tragedy you have firmly held the authority with which you have been entrusted. We remember that by the diplomatic settlement of 1902, by arbitration and negotiation, you have settled all the foreign claims of importance against your government and have given rise to not one yourself. We remember that hardly had the ashes cooled after the terrible disaster of Santa Maria when railway spikes were being driven to its base and the Mazatenango Railway opened, that the Northern Railway contract seems to guarantee the completion of that highway to the Atlantic at an early date.

"These achievements in a period of depression, in the face of natural phenomena of almost unparalleled destructiveness, warrant the hope that conditions may enable you to direct the destiny of Guatemala still further along on the highway to that position all hope she may one day occupy. A noble field lies before you. That you may be able to occupy it to the greatest advantage of your country is our earnest wish."

The tribute from Minister Combs, as will be noticed, especially emphasizes President Estrada Cabrera's qualities as a man of achievement. That is the keynote of his character, to do something for his country.

President Estrada Cabrera is a civilian executive. His public life has been that of a lawyer eminent in his profession.

Support of Liberal Principles.

In his participation in public affairs President Estrada Cabrera always has supported liberal principles. It was therefore natural that he should be prominent in the councils of the Liberal party and should become the leader of that organization. His career has been one to familiarize him with all the departments of the government. He served as Secretary of Government and Justice, and it was while, holding this position that in order to investigate a[Pg 22] land controversy he went out into the wilderness himself and spent several weeks going over the sections concerning which he desired to be fully informed. The result was that this controversy which had been in dispute for a long term of years was finally settled in the manner most equitable and just for the parties interested. This is the way President Estrada Cabrera works when the interests of the State are involved.

In 1898 when President-General José Maria Reyna Barrios was killed, Mr. Estrada Cabrera was Primer Designado, the position which corresponds to vice-president in the United States and under which he became acting President until an election could be held. At that election he was chosen President by a substantially unanimous vote. An indication of his public policies was given by him when he outlined his programme on coming into the responsibility for the government of Guatemala during the interim which he served in the character of Primer Designado. On that occasion he said:

"My administration will be brief and of a temporary character, but not for that reason shall it be left for History to demand of me a strict account of my acts during this period. I declare in the most solemn manner before my fellow citizens that I wish to hand back the beautiful standard of my country without stain. I desire that the Constitution, the sacred repository of our liberties, be not soiled in my hands. My hope is that all of my compatriots may enjoy the life and public liberties that are rightfully theirs. I wish that all the guaranties may protect them in the moment when they approach the ballot boxes to cast their vote for the person to whom it will be given to direct the destinies of our common country."

It was after this declaration and after several months' experience under President Estrada Cabrera's administration that in September, 1898, the people chose him to fill out the full presidential term and then in 1904 re-elected him for the term which will expire in 1911.

[Pg 23]

When President Estrada Cabrera became charged with the full responsibility of power in 1898, Guatemala was in the midst of political complications and of a very severe industrial crisis. His first labor was to insure political tranquillity. When this was accomplished he gave all his energies and his talents to developing the resources of the country and to the improvement of public administration. From this point a recent writer, confirming the eulogy of Minister Combs, said:

"Guatemala now enjoys unalterable peace. Her progress is most notable and instead of investing the public funds exclusively in swords and cannons there have been instituted the annual festival of Minerva, the most splendid work of Estrada Cabrera as ruler and as patriot, arousing in this manner in the people the desire for instruction and fostering by all possible means the material progress of the country; giving facilities and opening new ways to traffic and commerce; nourishing industries, science and the arts; beautifying the cities and villages; affording to all the advantages of modern improvements and spreading the knowledge of hygiene among the masses."

A Record of Achievement.

In a general way the administration of President Estrada Cabrera has been described as the political emancipation and the administrative emancipation. The former topic will be considered in the explanation of Guatemala's international relations. The administrative reforms which President Estrada Cabrera has introduced are numerous. He has reduced in a large measure the public debt and has paid almost entirely the recognized foreign claims incurred by previous administrations, has given marked impulse to the construction of highways, bridges, and other public works; has systematically fostered agriculture; has reformed and liberalized the Civil Codes and Proceedings; has extended the system of posts, telegraphs, and telephones; has established patriotic celebrations of an [Pg 24]industrial, agricultural, literary and scientific character; has reorganized the army and the branch of military hygiene, has enacted rigorous measures of quarantine against yellow fever, smallpox, and the bubonic pests; has enlarged considerably the public schools and the charitable institutions by constructing the fine Asylum for Invalids and Convalescents which bears his name: has improved the fiscal systems of the municipalities by bringing them to a modern basis, and has secured special advantages in supplying them with light, water, and other municipal necessities.

Generally it further may be said that Guatemala owes to President Estrada Cabrera:

The rehabilitation of her railway system.

The stability of the legal regimen.

Important reforms in land holdings in the interest of the small land owners.

The institution of closer relations with all the nations of the world and especially with the United States.

The restoration of public credit.

A satisfactory immigration policy.

The re-establishment and reorganization of the public school system, and a great variety of other measures which form a solid foundation for the continued development of the country.

Popular Education Promoted.

People in the United States who believe in the "Little Red School House" as the basis of good citizenship cannot fail to appreciate how thoroughly President Estrada Cabrera has made primary education a part of his policy. In the midst of his many measures for the material development of the country he never has lost sight of the moral advancement which comes from the school. He believes in education also as the very best means of creating and fostering the national patriotic spirit. During his first term he published a decree relating especially to the education of the youth of the country. He fixed the last Sunday of[Pg 25] October of each year for the celebration of a popular festival throughout the Republic consecrated exclusively to commemorate the education of the youth of the country and requiring that all the directors, professors, teachers, and scholars of all the schools take part in it. This was known as the Festival of Minerva. It is a sentimental recognition of the value of education, and is the complement of the practical steps which have been taken. One of his first measures on coming into the presidency in 1898 was to decree the reopening of the public schools. From that time he exerted himself constantly to elevate their standing by providing them with the best facilities, by reorganizing them in conformity with the most modern plans, and in a word by encouraging their extension and their progress in every sense.



Besides the primary schools a system of higher education is supported, and there are normal schools and various faculties such as those of law, medicine, engineering, etc. Especial attention, however, has been given to practical education, that is, the fitting of the common people for their occupations. There are schools of commerce, of manual training, and of agriculture, as well as an Institute especially for the native Indians. On this subject of technical education Consul General of the United States Winslow in a special report said:

"There are few villages in the country where there are no schools. In the city of Guatemala of late much attention has been given to education, under the direction of President Manuel Estrada Cabrera, who has done more along this line than any of his predecessors. There are in the city of Guatemala 25 public schools, 8 institutes, and 3 colleges.

"President Estrada Cabrera has given much attention to his pet scheme of establishing an industrial school for boys and girls at his own personal expense, aided by several of the more progressive citizens of Guatemala city, where the most improved methods of instruction are to be employed. The President has engaged two able educators[Pg 26] from the United States, and proposes everything shall be up-to-date.

"The Boys' Industrial College is in charge of Prof. Y. C. Pilgrim, a well-known educator of New Jersey, assisted by Professor Bellingham and wife, who have charge of the languages, and Professor Lorenzo de Clairmont, who instructs in gymnastics and military tactics. These are assisted by several native teachers. The boys are selected from the best families in the Republic and are limited to 50, and are all required to live in the dormitory. The college buildings are situated in a tract of land of about 60 acres, convenient to the city, with a campus where the boys are to be instructed in the modern sports and military tactics as taught at West Point, and all orders are to be given in the English language.

"The Girls' Industrial School is in charge of Miss Alice Dufour, a prominent educator of New York City, assisted by several native instructors. This institution is located in the city and is to be conducted on the same high plan as the boys' college. The idea is to teach the principles on which the American home is founded.

"President Estrada Cabrera means these institutions shall be the nucleus around which a solid and up-to-date system of education shall be built for this Republic. It is his ambition to firmly establish an educational system modeled after that in use in the United States, where the watchword shall be industry, promptness, and honesty."

The New York Tribune in a Washington dispatch had this to say on the same subject:

"American teachers who went to Guatemala some time ago at the request of the government are sending back interesting accounts of the progress which that country is making in adopting the educational methods that obtain in the United States. The newspapers also have a good deal to say on the subject. President Estrada Cabrera, who is a progressive man, for several years has had the ambition to give a new turn to public instruction, and to make it practical after the system of the United States.[Pg 27] His idea is that the youth of the Latin-American countries are especially in need of newer methods, and of getting away from the metaphysical systems which created a large class of professional men, for whom there was no room and who were a drawback to material progress.

"Some time ago President Estrada Cabrera established what was called the practical school, which combined technical instruction and manual training. A few weeks ago exercises were held at the Escuela Practica, or technical school, and it is concerning this that the New York teachers have written so encouragingly. The President delivered an address on the value of work and of developing through the schools an aptitude for everyday life. Heretofore he said there had been too much theory and too much that was purely professional in the system followed. Now that the aspiration of many years had been realized he was hopeful that the experiment would be beneficial in giving a new direction to the national spirit, and would result in the kind of business training that would fit the Guatemalan youth for the activities of practical life rather than incline them to the traditions of the past. Under the direction of the President fields for farm experiments have been established, and the youth are taught the care of horses and other farm work, as well as the manual trades. There is special provision made for athletic sports."

System of Government Explained.

The Government of Guatemala is republican—democratic and representative—and the supreme power is exercised by three governmental branches, each independent of the others, called "the legislative power," "the executive power," and "the judicial power."

The legislative power is vested in a National Assembly which consists of a single house composed of one deputy for each 20,000 inhabitants or fraction of that number exceeding 10,000. The deputies are elected by popular vote for four years, but one-half of the Assembly is renewed each two years so that each time that it meets it contains[Pg 28] an adequate number of experienced members. Annual sessions are held lasting two months, beginning March 1, but they can be extended one month longer in case of necessity. For the transaction of business during its recesses the Assembly appoints seven of its members who form a body called "the Permanent Commission." This commission, as well as the executive, can call the Assembly to meet in extraordinary sessions.

The executive power is exercised by the President of the Republic, who, for the transaction of public business, appoints six Ministers or Secretaries of State, who have charge of the portfolios of Foreign Relations, Government and Justice, the Treasury and Public Credit, War, Public Works, and Public Instruction.

There is also a Council of State, a purely advisory body, which is composed of the Cabinet Ministers and nine other members, of whom five are appointed by the Assembly and four by the President. These appointments are for two years.

The judicial power is exercised by the courts and judges of the Republic, organized as follows:

The Supreme Court of Justice, which sits at the capital of Guatemala and is composed of the President of the Judicial Power, four Magistrates, and an Attorney (Fiscal).

Six Courts or Tribunals of Appeals, composed of three Magistrates, of whom one presides, and an Attorney (Fiscal). Three of these Courts sit at the Capital and one in each of the capitals of the Departments of Quezaltenango, Alta Verapaz, and Jalapa. The Magistrates and Attorneys are elected, by popular vote.

The Judges of the Courts of First Instance, of whom there are six in the Capital, three in Quezaltenango, two in San Marcos, and one in each of the remaining Departments of the Republic. These Judges are appointed by the Executive from three names proposed by the Supreme Court of Justice.

Finally, the Justices of the Peace who pronounce oral judgments and are elected by the people of the districts in which they exercise their functions.

[Pg 29]

For the exercise of the political, civil, and military administration of the country it is divided into twenty-two Departments, each of which has a Governor (Jefe Politico) invested with the executive functions. For the administration of the local affairs of each district there are popularly elected Municipal Councils. The service of the members of the Councils is for one year, is obligatory for the citizens of the respective districts, and is not remunerated.

The Constitution of the Republic gives to all those who live in the country the most ample guaranties of liberty, equality, and security of their persons, their honor, and their property; of freedom of movement and of assembly, of professions, of industries, and of commerce; of the right to dispose of their property, to address petitions to the authorities and to defend their interests before them; of liberty of conscience, inasmuch as there is no official religion; of the right to freely express their opinions, whether by speech, or by writing, or by means of the press, without being subject to censure; of liberty to give or receive instruction, if they should so prefer, in private educational establishments; of the right to have their residences, their property, their correspondence, and other papers respected as inviolable; of the right of habeas corpus; of liberty of defence in judicial proceedings, etc.

Primary instruction is obligatory, and that which is sustained by the nation is secular and free. There is no imprisonment for debt. Marriage is considered a simple civil contract; but those who desire can have it solemnized in a religious form. Absolute divorce can be obtained in cases defined by the law.

[Pg 30]

CHAPTER III. The Soil and its Riches.

The soil of Guatemala is remarkable in the vast extent and great variety of two classes of products which are unusual within the same degrees of latitude, that is, it produces both tropical and temperate staples of agriculture in great profusion. The soil grows coffee, sugar-cane, cacao, bananas, tobacco, cotton, india rubber, vanilla, sarsaparilla, and a long list of medicinal plants, while it likewise produces the cereals, wheat and Indian corn, which are only found in temperate regions, giving two and in some places three crops of these annually. There are also endless kinds of valuable hardwood, mahogany, rosewood, ebony, cedar and the like, which are especially tropical timber, and at the same time pine and oak exist in the mountain regions of the interior. Besides all this the grasses grown are especially adapted to live stock, and cattle raising and dairying are very profitable industries.

The British Consul General in an official report to the Foreign Office in London had this to say about the capabilities of the soil:

"The tropical situation of the country, the proximity of every portion to the sea on both coasts, the diversity of altitude and consequently of temperature, combine to make the agricultural capabilities of Guatemala equal to any in the world. Every kind of crop, from those of the tropical coast regions to those of the cold highlands (the latter having a climate corresponding with that of northern Europe in summer) may be raised. There are districts where even four crops of maize (Indian corn) are obtained in one year. It is a common theory that the manures are unnecessary, as the heavy rains wash down the rich soils from the sides of the mountains and fertilize the plains.[Pg 31] The great secret is therefore for the agriculturist to adapt his cultivation to the nature of the soil and climate and his interest would be advanced by a judicious rotation of crops."

A breezy description, though an accurate one, was given of the soil of Guatemala by a correspondent of the Washington Star. Wrote this correspondent:

"Instead of my own impressions of the country I would rather give those of a North Carolina business man. He was taking the rest cure by means of a sea voyage to San Francisco and deflected his itinerary for a week's land journey. We traveled together to the capital and also made a trip to the port of Champerico over the railroad extension which has opened up new and untouched territory. It was his first view of tropical lands except from the ship's deck.

"On landing at San José the North Carolina man looked with awe and admiration as every tourist is bound to do on the dominating volcano peaks Fuego and Agua, Fire and Water. But while he never ceased to wonder at the richness of the scenery his practical instincts asserted themselves and he punctuated the information given him about climate, soil and products with keen observations. He confessed that on the vessel he thought they were 'stringing' him when they told him that the posts for the barbed wire fences just grew, but when he saw countless miles of trees in straight rows with the wire stretched along the trunks he paid his tribute also to climate and soil. He knew that naturally trees don't grow in straight rows and he found the explanation. The posts are poles cut from the trees' branches and when stuck in the ground they shoot up so rapidly that they soon are trees.

"The North Carolina observer never got over his wonder at the soil. The railroad cuts gave him a chance to see that it was not surface richness and he easily grasped the explanation. The vegetation grows to a certain height, then dies away, rots and forms fresh layers of richness.[Pg 32] This process going on for centuries has made the fertility of the land inexhaustible.

"The utility of volcanic eruptions was new to him and was explained on the trip to Champerico. This is the great coffee region. It comes within the sphere of influence of the volcano Santa Maria. When Santa Maria was sprinkling both the sea and land with pumice stone and ashes, on many of the fincas (plantations) there was just enough of this lava soil after the rains had come and washed away the surface of the deposit to renew the productiveness."

In another way an idea of the varied products of agricultural industry can be had from an account given in the British Consular reports of a model plantation. This plantation consisted of 3,000 acres. In a given year it produced 1,200,000 pounds of coffee, 300,000 pounds of sugar, 300,000 bottles of the by-product of sugar known as aguardiente or cane rum, 22,000 gallons of milk. Two thousand head of cattle were raised. On this plantation from 900 to 1,300 laborers were employed.

Coffee of World-Wide Fame.

As is well known, Guatemala's most valuable agricultural product is coffee. The fame of Guatemala coffee is worldwide and it commands the highest prices. The production in average years is about 70,500,000 pounds, though in a recent year it exceeded 80,000,000 pounds. The most productive regions are in the departments of Guatemala, Amatitlan, Sacatepequez, Solola, Retalhuleu, Quezaltenango, San Marcos, Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Chimaltenango, Santa Rosa and Escuintla.



The altitudes at which the coffee plant is most successfully cultivated are between 1,500 feet and 5,000 feet above sea level, according to the locality and quality of the soil. The temperature at which the greatest productiveness is obtained varies from a minimum of 60° Fahrenheit to a maximum of 90°. In the lowlands the trees have to be shaded in order to prevent the leaves from being scorched[Pg 33] by the heat. There is an abundance of native trees which answers this purpose. Occasionally, too, bananas are raised in conjunction with coffee since their broad leaves furnish an excellent protection.

In districts where the mean altitude is 4,500 feet a different sort of protection is necessary in order to shelter the coffee leaves from the northern winds which blow during the months of December, January, and February. In these high altitudes the ranges of hills form the best natural protection. To bring the coffee plant to full production from five to seven years are required, though after two years the bush will produce about two pounds of the berry annually. The coffee plants are raised in nurseries and afterwards transplanted to the cafetales or coffee plantations. The critical season for the crop is the blooming period. A heavy rainfall while the trees are in flower will seriously damage the plants by washing away the pollen and thus preventing fructification. This period lasts three or four days when the blossoms fall and the cherry or berry begins to appear. The cherry reaches maturity in October and is ready for gathering and pulping, that is, for the removal of the outer shell and pulp. After this process it is washed and carried to dry, spread out in brick paved yards exposed to the sun. The grain is known as pergamino, or shell coffee, after the removal of the red pulp, while it retains the inner white or yellow parchment covering. After this parchment is removed it is known as oro, clean coffee, and this is the common commercial term.

So many elements enter into the cost of planting and bringing to maturity a coffee plantation that it is difficult to estimate the expenditure necessary to ensure a given profit. Experienced coffee growers are guided largely by their knowledge of the local conditions and requirements. However, a reasonable amount of capital in the beginning is necessary and many investors possessing the capital prefer to buy fincas or plantations that are already producing.

The government of Guatemala lays an export tax of[Pg 34] one dollar in gold. Germany takes the bulk of the Guatemala product, though Great Britain is a large buyer and the United States is receiving larger quantities from year to year. With the increased facilities for transportation there would appear to be an excellent opportunity for dealers to make a specialty of Guatemala coffee in the United States, for the article once introduced would be sure to have an increased consumption.

Sugar and other Profitable Products.

In 1890 Guatemala was producing barely enough sugar for its own consumption. In 1904 it exported 6,000,000 pounds to the United States. New Orleans is the nearest market, though shipments also may be made to Brooklyn. The product consists of white loaf sugar, panela or coarse brown cakes, from which the cane rum is made, miel or molasses, and mascabado, or inferior grades. The sugar cane is of excellent quality and the production is abundant, especially along the hot coast districts. The departments of Escuintla, Amatitlan, and Baja Verapaz are the districts in which the largest areas are under cultivation. As a rule the small sugar mills are crude and modern machinery has not been introduced to a great extent, although the largest plantations are already supplied with the latest improvements. With the introduction on a larger scale of modern machinery and the latest processes the sugar industry would be certain to afford satisfactory profits.

Cacao of a very high quality is produced in Guatemala and the native article commands much higher prices than that produced in other countries and brought to Guatemala for sale. The productive regions are the tierras calientes or hot coast lands. The principal cacao producing districts are Escuintla, Suchitepequez, Solola, and Retalhuleu. The bean is most productive at an altitude of 800 to 2,000 feet. In some cases the shrub produces a pound of beans every four months and after reaching maturity it is said to produce without interruption for one hundred years.

Notwithstanding the superior quality of the Guatemala[Pg 35] cacao the industry has not been carried on systematically, possibly because five or six years are required to secure the first crop. In the last year the total output was only 34,000 pounds, but the steady demand for cacao and the certainty of good prices justifies the investment of capital which can await five or six years for the first returns. The gathering of the cacao beans requires very little machinery and few laborers. Chiefly care must be taken not to hurt the bean or almond when breaking the fruit wherein they are contained. One day of fermentation must then be given to them, after which they remain exposed to the sun for six or eight days, when they are ready to be sent to the market.

One of the most profitable of future industries in Guatemala undoubtedly is that of banana culture. There are vast productive regions on the Atlantic slope and these are certain to be cultivated since the building of the Northern Railway insures opening up the lands by giving access to the New Orleans market within the time that is necessary for gathering and shipping the fruit. The annual production is now about 800,000 bunches, of which one-half are consumed at home and the balance shipped to the United States. It is estimated that within a year after the Northern Railway is completed the shipments to the United States will exceed 750,000 bunches per annum and will soon amount to 1,000,000 bunches.

Tobacco is produced in a number of districts and there is much suitable soil for it, but up to this time it has been raised only for local consumption. Rice is also produced in the hot coast lands. Cotton is grown and experiments have shown that the Sea Island cotton thrives in Guatemala.

Rubber Cultivation an Inviting Field.

For investments of capital that is willing to wait returns there is no more inviting field than the cultivation of india rubber, which grows wild in Guatemala. Each year the demand for rubber increases and the price rises. The[Pg 36] coast regions where the wild tree flourishes are especially adapted to the cultivation of the product. The subject has been given very careful attention by the Guatemalan government, which caused investigation to be made by scientists who were familiar with the native agriculture. The result of these investigations has been published from time to time.

The wild gum tree is tall with smooth greenish white bark. The milk which is the mercantile product is contained principally in the fibres which are attached to the woody portion of the tree between it and the bark. The milk contains about 60% of water and other substances, while the remaining 40% represents the salable product. The climate most appropriate for the growth of the rubber tree is that of the hot coast lands at an altitude not exceeding 1,500 feet. The yield of the cultivated rubber trees has been estimated as high as three pounds yearly from the sixth year, but the best authorities do not think that the trees should be tapped before the ninth year and then the grower should be satisfied with an annual yield of two and a half to three pounds of milk, which will insure one pound of rubber.

An estimate of the cost and probable yield of a rubber plantation as made by Señor Horta, a leading authority, was that a plantation of 100,000 trees would require ten caballerias (about 1,100 to 1,200 acres), and would have cost after ten years about one dollar per tree. This expense could in part be met by secondary cultivation. According to the calculations one crop after ten years should produce double the amount expended in that time.

The government encourages the cultivation of rubber, a decree having been issued in 1899 which provided that for every 20,000 rubber plants of four years of age and planted after the date of the decree the owner should receive one caballeria (112 acres) of uncultivated national land. The government, however, does not endorse nor recommend the promotion of rubber plantations by stock companies which seek chiefly to sell the stock among small investors[Pg 37] in the United States. All such schemes should be carefully investigated before the shares are bought and the leading facts in regard to rubber production, including the necessity of a period of at least ten years for the successful development of a plantation, should be kept in mind.

Bounty for Hennequen.

The soil of Guatemala in the opinion of experts is especially adapted to the cultivation of fibre plants of which the most valuable is hennequen or hemp. Maguey or wild hennequen grows in various localities, particularly in the eastern districts, where there is a large area which it is believed can be brought under profitable cultivation for commercial purposes. President Estrada Cabrera, in order to encourage the cultivation of hennequen, has provided that a bounty shall be paid to the cultivators of the plant, the scale of payment being graduated according to the size of the plantation. Since it takes from four to five years for the plant to mature the cultivators are allowed to receive one-half the bounty two years after the hennequen is planted and the balance at the end of the four years. A bounty is also to be paid for the exportation of each 100 pounds of hennequen and the machinery necessary on the plantation is to be imported free of duty. As a further inducement to engage in the cultivation of the fibre the natives who produce hennequen are to be exempted from military service in a proportion fixed relatively to the number of acres under cultivation. This experiment with hennequen is especially important in view of the fact that soil which is not suitable for coffee, sugar cane or cacao is thought to be especially well adapted to this plant.

The number of medicinal plants produced in Guatemala is infinite. One scientist gives a list of 339, which includes many balsams and the aromatic plants, such as sarsaparilla and vanilla. The conditions of vanilla cultivation are similar to those in Mexico. The vine after five years is in full bearing and will produce from 15 to 40 beans. It is estimated that a five-acre vanilla plantation will yield[Pg 38] sufficient income to render its owner independent, but this is only by the most careful attention in cultivation.

Many Varieties of Valuable Wood.

There are said to be 150 kinds of Guatemala wood which are commercially valuable, and the number of species exceeds 400. The timber area includes the littoral forests in a narrow belt along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts; the humid forests mixed with the prairie fields which cover the plains from the foot of the Andean Cordilleras to the Pacific; the moist forests of the hot zone and the temperate zone found along the foothills of the volcanic chain and in the northern and eastern parts of the country; the humid forests of the cold zone; the pine and oak forests in the upland plains; the savannas and chaparral consisting of small trees and bushes; the savannas with pines along the Atlantic coast and the savannas of the cold zone on the highest tablelands of the mountain.

In the report of the Intercontinental Railway Survey Lieutenant Hill gives a list of trees found in southeastern Guatemala which is another illustration of the varied timber resources of the country. The list is as follows:

Aconacaste, conacaste, guanacaste—a light brown wood rather soft and resembling inferior walnut.

Amarillo—yellowish, hard, plentiful, strong; lasts well in water or ground; used for pillars and girders in native houses.

Cedro—reddish, easily worked; used much for boards, not very strong, warps easily.


Chichipate—hard, fine-grained; used in wagon-making.

Chiche—straight grained; lasts well above ground.

Chico—straight grained; takes high polish.

Granadillo—dark brown, strong, plentiful; good for construction.

Guachipilin—good for construction.

Guapinol—hard, resembles oak in texture.

Jicaro—bears gourdlike fruit; plentiful on llanos, used in making saddle-trees.

[Pg 39]

Laurel—resembles chestnut; used for furniture.

Madre cacao—hard, takes fine polish; good for posts.

Mario or Palo Colorado—a fine wood somewhat like mahogany.

Matilishuate—grows large and straight; used for wagon boxes.


Jocote de Fraile—handsome wood, takes high polish.

Ronron—fine, hardwood, takes high polish.

Tempisque—reddish, resembles mahogany in weight and texture.

Volador—fine tree, tall, straight trunk; good for bridges and roofs.

With such a vast wealth of timber the importance of the railway projects which open up the forest regions and make the markets of the United States and Europe accessible will be appreciated.

Encouragement to Livestock Industries.

Cattle raising and dairy farming are among the most profitable agricultural industries of Guatemala, while horse-breeding also can be made to pay unusually well. The native horse is small but very strong and is tireless. The race horses and others obtained through the crossing with foreign breeds imported from the United States and from Spain, England and South America have given most satisfactory results.

Dairy farming especially in the vicinity of the cities yields large dividends. The cattle are largely three-quarters or half-bred natives and Holsteins and Durhams. The pure native cows give much richer milk than the imported stock, but they yield a very small quantity. The milk of the thoroughbred imported cows is thin, owing probably to the unsuitable nature of the fodder, and thus the half-bred cows are the most profitable.

The highlands of the interior afford very fair grazing for cattle throughout the year. The climate is mild and equable and the stock can remain in the pastures from[Pg 40] January till December, while no losses are suffered from severe weather in winter. Most of the country is well watered. The native mules are superior to the horses for long journeys or heavy loads and as a rule they command higher prices. Pigs are raised with little difficulty and fetch a high price, since pork is one of the favorite foods on many of the plantations and in the villages inhabited by Indians. The hogs are allowed to run loose and feed on nourishing roots, acorns and maize. The sheep industry is capable of development at the hands of experienced sheep-raisers. There are many flocks and the quality of both the mutton and the wool is capable of improvement.

Mines and Mining.

The mineral riches of Guatemala, while not unknown, may be said to be unexploited. Owing to the varied geological formations the belief both of geologists and of practical miners is that they offer a promising field for development. The minerals include quartz and gold, silver and galenas, copper, coal and lignite, manganese, asbestos, graphite, kaolin, opals, slate, alum, marble, silver, mica, iron, sulphur, lead.

The mining archives of colonial days show that between the years 1627 and 1820 more than 1,300 mines of gold, silver, lead, copper, tin, iron, and one of quicksilver, were discovered and worked, and were a source of great revenue both to the Church and the State. History records that during the earliest Spanish occupancy of that country enormous quantities of gold and silver were taken from those mines. At one time more than one hundred and fifty very rich mines were worked there. From one group the mint of Guatemala coined silver to the amount of $43,000,000, besides what was shipped directly to Europe.



In an official report made by the Director of the chemical laboratory to the Minister of Finance these statements are made, based on samples that had been submitted for analysis and which were obtained for the most part in the eastern region of the country.

[Pg 41]

"Zinc, copper, lead, and silver predominate in these regions, being generally found in argentiferous blends and galenas, and sometimes both metals in conjunction with carbonates of copper. The proportion of the lead varies from 20 to 25% in the galenas and the blends contain from 15 to 40% of zinc.

"The proportion of silver varies from 200 grammes to 7 kilos (17 pounds), allowing one to calculate on an average of from 2 to 3 kilos. The beds extend to the tablelands on which the capital is situated, stretching as far as the Department of Jalapa, where the lead disappears sometimes completely, the silver being found alone. The veins stretch to the valley of the Motagua, disappearing for some time on the left bank of that river and reappearing again to the north of Solamá, following a straight line to Huehuetenango, although the quantity of silver in this region is less than in the beds in the southeast of the Republic.

"Copper, one of the metals which is most abundant in the country, is generally found in oxicarbonate in beds of sediment. It appears in the neighborhood of the capital and various other points. These beds continue up to the Mexican frontier along the banks of the river Salega and round the town of Cuilco, but the nature of the metal changes little by little, passing from the carbonates to oxisulphates mixed with iron and soon the copper disappears altogether. In the eastern region abundant deposits of carbonates of copper are found principally in the Department of Chiquimula, mixed in many cases with other metals such as zinc, lead, and silver.

"Lignite of excellent quality is found in beds near the Atlantic coast, a very great consideration in the development of mineral industries."

Captain Rae of the United States, who spent several years in Guatemala and who wrote authoritatively concerning the mineral resources of the country, said that he had found near the northwestern frontier large quantities of low grade gold sulphuret ores and also rich lead ores carrying a small percentage of silver as well as some good[Pg 42] copper carbonates. He said that the lead ores were of the best clean carbonates, easily smelted by fuel alone, and had been rudely exploited principally for the lead they contained. These silver lead mines of low grades of silver were in the vicinity of Chiantla, and the belt extended, he said, northwest, breaking out again in heavy deposits bearing silver from $12 to $40 a ton and lead 80%.

Captain Rae gave the following further details:

"Still further east in the Lacodor country are found immense deposits of the same character of ore, which seemed to lie as if thrown up in volcanic upheavals. In some places the lead is found in small nuggets entirely pure. Large deposits of black lead or plumbago exist both north and south of Huehuetenango of a good class and ready for commerce.

"Auriferous gravel beds are found at different points on the Rio Grande in the Department of Baja Verapaz which prospect well for heavy course gold. The working of these beds is confined to the immediate river banks, done by the natives in a very rude manner, merely scooping out the choicest streaks of goldbearing gravel and washing it in wooden bowls. These beds seem to be well defined and extend back through the flats to the hills.

"Also some gold formation is found along the Rio Plátanos and Vacas two affluents of the Rio Grande that flow into it from the south side and nearly opposite to one of these goldbearing gravel beds. Further down the river on the north mountain range there exists asbestos in several places and from a surface prospect the texture is of a good variety and free from all foreign substances varying in color from deep gray to snowy white, the fibres measuring as much as 6 inches in length.

"In the Department of Izabal lying on the Atlantic or gulf coast, on the lower waters of the Motagua and Polichis rivers, there exists rich and extensive beds of gold placers which have been worked for several years in a primitive way and have yielded a large amount of gold dust.

[Pg 43]

"In the foothills of Livingston stone coal has been found of the lignite variety and said to make good combustible. On the opposite side of the Gulf of Dulce from the coal deposits are large deposits of magnetic iron ores, ranging from 60 to 70 per cent. of iron. These deposits lie only a few leagues from water communication on the Gulf and also close to the Northern Railway."

The following description of the various mineral districts is from The Bristol Board of Trade journal:

"The principal known mining districts of Guatemala are situated on the eastern boundary, both to the north and also the south, in the Departments of Chiquimula and Izabal, adjoining the Republic of Honduras and that of Salvador. These districts are mountainous, and, owing to their complete isolation and lack of communication with the other parts of the Republic and the difficulty of procuring supplies, there being at the moment very few roads, this part is not generally known to the outer world.

"On the western boundary, in the Department of Huehuetenango and near to Chiantla, there are said to be very rich copper mines, similar to those of Chiapas, in Mexico. These are now being explored, but so far no copper has been found, though the district is rich in lead and a small percentage of silver. The assays that have come to hand show 56 per cent. of lead and 40 ounces per ton of silver. In many other parts of the Republic mines have been discovered and mining rights secured, such as at San Cristobal and Aguil, in the Department of Alta Verapaz; near Rabinal and Pichec, in Baja Verapaz; at San Pedro, in the Department of Guatemala; also at Mataquescuintla, in the mines of Algeria and Rosario, in the Department of Santa Rosa; at Zalcuapa and Joyabaj, on the Rio Grande, in the Department of El Quiche; but the only mines that have recently been worked, and which have given and are giving fair results, are those of Quebradas de Oro, on the River Bobos, in the Department of Izabal, where gold has been washed in paying quantities.

[Pg 44]

"The district where mines have been denounced (pre-empted) and in some instances worked, lies between the Rio de Concepcion to the north and the Rio de las Minas to the south; the mining district alluded to is nearly due east of Los Sillones, on the finca of San José. This estate is in the Department of Chiquimula, and a society was formed under the name of Société Horta y Cia., which obtained mining rights from the Government for a term of fifteen years with the right to import free of duty all material, machinery, and necessary appliances. But until the present time very little has been done, owing to the isolated position of these mines and the difficulty of establishing communication, though the construction of a small line, which might connect with the Guatemala or Northern Railway at Chiquimula, has been under consideration, but the funds for the carrying out of this project have, it is understood, been lacking. This, if built, would do away with the transportation difficulty."

There is no difficulty in the work of mining in Guatemala since the climate in the mining regions is temperate and healthful.

[Pg 45]

CHAPTER IV. Trade and Markets.

Guatemala, because of its nearness, is an unusually good market for the products of the United States. With the increase in the transportation facilities which will result from railway building and other transportation enterprises that will add to the ocean shipping facilities the business should increase greatly if merchants and manufacturers in the United States choose to take advantage of it.

Official support is given this view by the reports of the American Consuls in Guatemala. Consul General Winslow has frequently called attention to the advantages which may be obtained. In one report he stated that large quantities of groceries, flour, potatoes, shoes, drygoods, and clothing come from the United States, but Germany and England seem to have the lead in machinery and hardware. There is surely a fine opening in these latter lines for exporters of the United States, but they must be in position to push their goods personally, to give longer credits, and to take more pains with packing. In all, it is safe to say, there are $8,000,000 of American capital invested in Guatemala and there is an opening for much more, if it is backed by the right kind of management.

In a report, to the British Foreign Office in 1905 Mr. Hervey, the English Consul, stated that as far as actual volume of business was concerned, as shown in the imports and exports, there appeared to have been a distinct improvement in the general trade of the country compared with immediately preceding years. The imports were the largest for the past seven years. The revenue of the country showed a great improvement all around, being, in fact, nearly double that of 1903, the most important increases being shown in import and export duties, the former benefiting by the 50 per cent. of their total payable in gold, and the latter by the tax of $1 gold per quintal which has been collected throughout the year.

[Pg 46]

The outlook for the future was, the report said, more favorable than it had been for many years. The completion of the Guatemala Northern Railway would shorten the distance from Europe and the United States and promote trade. Already German and British steamers were calling at Puerto Barrios in addition to those of the United Fruit Company. The greater steadiness of exchange and the fall in the gold premium were further factors of importance in restoring confidence. With continued peace, and with it the prospect of increased labor facilities, so that the agricultural and mineral wealth to be won from the soil may attain to its fullest development, brighter days were dawning for Guatemala.

Articles Brought from Other Countries.

A general statement regarding the articles which Guatemala buys abroad and which therefore are of interest to exporters is as follows:

The principal imports consist of drygoods, almost exclusively cotton manufactures, brought from Great Britain, the United States, and Germany. In this branch British manufacture commands the market, the imports from the United States and Germany being relatively small. The more important articles are gray cloths; bleached shirtings, 7-8 and 9-8 prints; fancy cloths; gray, white, and blue drills; colored drills; handkerchiefs; gray and dyed yarns; Turkey red yarns; sewing cottons; trimmings; cotton blankets, etc. Of these goods about 75 per cent. are of British origin, 15 per cent. American, and 10 per cent. German. American manufacturers compete chiefly in drills, denims, blankets, prints, gray cloths, and bleached shirtings, while German goods imported consist chiefly of drills, prints, Turkey red yarns, blankets, and trimmings.

Woolen goods are not in very great demand; the principal lines are blankets, shawls, braids, hats, Berlin wool, and but few piece goods.

Hats are imported mostly from the United States, Germany, and only a few from the United Kingdom; shawls[Pg 47] from Germany, principally; piece goods from Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.

Silks are not in demand, excepting floss silks imported from China, ribbons from Switzerland, France, and Germany. Regarding hardware generally, approximately 50 per cent. is imported from Germany, 30 per cent. from the United States, and 20 per cent. from the United Kingdom.

The principal imports from the United States consist of machetes, axes, and hoes, besides tools generally of the better classes, corn mills, plows, sewing machinery, outfits for building purposes, saws, barbed wire, files, screws, cutlery, ropes, brushes, enameled goods, paints, and varnishes and breadstuffs.

The imports from the United Kingdom are chiefly composed of galvanized-iron sheets, galvanized-iron goods, coffee machinery, copper sheets, tin goods, machetes, hoes, sickles, picks, pickaxes, saltpeter, pans (used on sugar plantations), iron sheets, saws, padlocks, cutlery, saddlery, bits, spurs, brass valves and cocks, pottery, cartridges, also preserves and biscuits.

From Germany are brought all kinds of cheap tools, machinery, sewing machines, cutlery, machetes, bar iron, enameled goods, pottery, locks, screws, nails, window glass, brushes, paper, matches, stearin and ceresin, part of these goods being also brought from Belgium and the Netherlands, while France ships tools for shoemakers' and saddlers' use.

The articles which Guatemala buys in exchange for her coffee, sugar, fruits, woods and other products in the customs classification are divided into three groups; that is, articles of prime necessity, articles of luxury or convenience, and articles for the industries.

The first and most important group includes cotton and woolen goods, wheat flour, rice, corn, potatoes, salt, wax and stearine candles, matches, soap, petroleum, glass and earthenware, and kitchen hardware.

The second group covers the finer grade of woolens, silks, mineral waters, liquors, preserves in cans, manufactured tobacco, glassware, porcelain, toys, musical instruments, perfumery, etc.

[Pg 48]

The third group consists of coal, woodworking machinery, cured hides, raw cotton, sacks, lubricating oils, farm implements and a variety of machinery.

Class of Imports from the United States.

The shipments with which up to this time the United States has been most successful in furnishing Guatemala can be understood from a summary of the articles sent out under a consular invoice from various ports. The exportations from the port of New Orleans during a recent year were as follows:

Linseed oil $168
Petroleum, etc. 2,534
Tar 255
Live animals 5,447
Rice 974
Empty barrels 116
Coal 185
Cement 422
Cistern materials 648
Dynamite 249
Drugs 1,972
Hardware 19,468
Cotton goods 45,733
Iron bars 338
Wheat flour 15,817
Surgical instruments 281
Locomotives 7,465
Earthenware 1,122
Manufactured woods, railroad ties, etc. 55,772
Indian corn 16,335
Malt 474
Cable rope 1,874
Gentlemen's furnishings 2,724
Gasolene motors 285
Furniture 657
Umbrellas 444
[Pg 49]Provisions 23,127
Bridge material 18,794
Salt 2,136
Hats 452
Whiskey 978
Shoes 1,531

From the port of Mobile shipments were as follows:

Wheat flour $10,196
Cotton goods 9,916
Canned meats 2,108
Cornmeal 1,316
Hardware 804
Alimentary conserves 777
Butter 676
Beer in bottles 572
Petroleum 523
Vegetables 507
Coal 420
Hay 405
Dried fish 376
Footwear 362
Stearine candles 317
Matches 300
Condensed milk 238
Soap 228
Lard 206
Fruit preserves 204
Cheese 173
Rice 168
Miscellaneous food products 1,700

The exports from New York, which average about $75,000 per month, are composed chiefly of the following articles:

Galvanized wire Lubricating oil
Alimentary articles Electrical equipments
Betum Iron pipes
[Pg 50]Glassware Cured hides
Beer Drugs
Photographic material    Hardware
Cotton goods Agricultural implements
Soap Jewelry
Earthenware Sewing machines
Railway material Medicines
Typewriters Miscellaneous machinery
Plated goods Perfumery
Paper Petroleum
Watches Weighing scales
Hats Whiskey
Chintz Leather ware

From the port of San Francisco the annual shipments amount to approximately $1,000,000. The principal articles are flour, wheat, hops, corn, barley, oats, cotton, furniture, machinery, beers, wines, and whiskies. The articles imported at San Francisco are chiefly coffee, sugar, cacao, rubber, hides and lumber.

How the Commerce is Divided.

While the United States has a fair share of the trade the proportion is not as large as it might be if systematic efforts were made. In the last year for which statistics are available the foreign commerce of Guatemala amounted to $12,593,000, of which $5,041,000 was imports and $7,552,000 exports. Germany, which takes the bulk of the coffee crop, is the largest consumer. In the year quoted it took 53.79% of the total exportations from Guatemala North America (chiefly United States) 25.86%. England, 15.37%, and France 2.4%.

The exportation of the various countries to Guatemala in percentage terms was as follows: United States 36.59%; England, 22.62%; Germany, 19.97%; France, 9.21%; South America, 2.82%; Central America, 1.83%; Mexico, 1.69%; Spain, 1.54%; Italy, 1.32%; Belgium and Holland, 1.27%; other countries, 1.14%.

[Pg 51]

In detail the value of the goods imported by Guatemala in the given year was: from Germany, $1,019,000; United States, $1,442,000; England, $1,038,000; France, $175,000; Belgium, $114,000. No other country except the above exported to Guatemala goods exceeding $100,000 in value. Of the exports from Guatemala, chiefly coffee, as previously stated, Germany took $3,508,000; the United States $2,292,000; England, $1,282,000.

President Estrada Cabrera in his annual message commented on the balance of trade in favor of Guatemala and expressed himself very hopefully concerning the measures of internal development which could be carried on while the conditions of foreign commerce were so satisfactory.

Since a portion of the revenue of Guatemala is raised from the export tax on coffee it is possible to maintain a very moderate schedule of import duties and this is done. The average duty on the group of articles described under the heading of prime necessity is 23.67% ad valorem. On the second group 30.84% and on the third group 7.60%. The duties are equitably distributed so as to bear lightly on everything that enters into the industrial upbuilding of the country. Moreover, special concessions are sometimes made on material for railway and other enterprises which enter into the national development.

The general rules regarding the application of the tariff are very clear. They are formulated with a view to saving annoyance to shippers and are specific enough to avoid uncertainty. Import duties are not high. The list of articles which it is prohibited to import is a short one.

The charges for invoices on shipments to Guatemala are as follows:

Ship's manifest $10.00.
Validating invoices of from $1 to $100 7.00.
        "              "            "  100 "   500 10.00.
        "              "            "  501 " 1000 14.00.
        "              "            "  1001 " 3000 16.00.
        "              "            "  3001 " 6000 20.00.

[Pg 52]

For each additional $1000 the Consuls will collect $2.

The government officials of Guatemala and the merchants gave hearty support to the project of an exposition ship or floating exposition which was undertaken on the Pacific coast in order to display American products and manufactures and at the same time familiarize American firms with the products of other countries.

Exchange and Banks.

In the conduct of its foreign commerce reasonably long credits are required by the merchants of Guatemala, but always under fixed conditions. When the coffee crop is shipped bills on Europe and on New York can always be procured at reasonable exchange and the obligations be met in this manner. Since the balance of trade is in favor of Guatemala there is always the certainty of funds for exchange.

Under President Estrada Cabrera's administration the banks of the country are subject to a regulation somewhat similar to the national banks of the United States. Various decrees have been issued governing the emission of banknotes. The latest decree institutes a special bank examination project and requires all the financial institutions to give an account of their condition and operations to this Department.

The following statistics as to the leading banks of Guatemala have been compiled from recent reports:

Guatemalan Bank (Banco de Guatemala).

Capital subscribed and totally paid    $2,500,000 00
Reserve fund 655,000 00
Contingent fund 292,208 67
Fund available for dividends 200,000 00
Manager: Carlos Gallusser.

[Pg 53]

Occidental Bank (Banco de Occidente).

Capital authorized    $2,000,000 00
Capital paid 1,650,000 00
Reserve fund 1,200,000 00
Contingent fund 1,200,000 00
Manager: Rufino Ibarguen.

International Bank (Banco Internacional).

Capital subscribed and totally paid    $2,000,000 00
Reserve fund 1,507,000 00
Contingent fund 281,918 76
Manager: Carlos B. Pullin.

Columbian Bank (Banco Colombiano).

Capital paid    $1,776,000 00
Reserve fund 797,747 94
Sinking fund 454,189 84
Fund available for dividends 69,227 74
Manager: F. L. de Villa.

American Bank (Banco Americano).

Capital authorized    $1,200,000 00
Manager: A. Beckford.

Agricultural Mortgage Bank (Banco Agricola-Hipotecario).

Capital authorized    $12,000,000 00
Manager: A. Prentice.

[Pg 54]

All these are banks of emission and discount with headquarters in Guatemala City and with branches in the other principal cities of the departments. They also to some degree supply the place of mercantile agencies and report financial standing of individuals, firms and companies upon solicitation.

It is known to be the great ambition of President Estrada Cabrera to place the finances of Guatemala on a solid basis during his present term. The rate of exchange under the stability now afforded and the improved industrial and commercial conditions has been steadily falling.

A final word concerning the opportunities for American enterprise is convincing when it comes from official sources. In one of his reports Consul General Winslow said:

"During the past few months the exporters of the United States have been doing some effective work in this Republic. There have been several commercial travelers here studying the conditions and taking sample orders. Many others have been asking for information from this Consulate-General, which has been able to give valuable information. If this field is properly worked and sufficiently long credit is given, practically nothing but American goods need be found in the markets of Guatemala, for they are generally conceded to be the best. This market is worth cultivating, for the next few years will see great development here. Everything points that way, and the natural resources are great. The opening up of the new railroad to the Atlantic coast at Puerto Barrios will do wonders for the country. More attention is being paid to the packing of goods shipped to this country. It is an important matter and cannot have too much attention on the part of exporters. Packages should be very firmly nailed and bound by band iron, so they would be difficult to open, as there is much complaint about goods being stolen from boxes in transit. I have had several compliments of late from the custom officers for the way shipments of American goods have come packed. It will pay exporters to pack well everything[Pg 55] they ship. Dollars spent in this line will bring hundreds in profits. This is especially true for Central American ports."

Supplementary to the above was a report from Vice-Consul General Owen in which these observations were made:

"The following drygoods of American manufacture are becoming quite popular here: Brown cotton, all grades; cotton duck, Lindale, up to 6 ounces; light domestics; long cloth; gingham; cotton drill, checks and stripes (cheviot); blue and brown cotton drill; fancy calicoes and lawns; cotton ware, all colors. The piece of 24 yards is the most popular, although cotton cheviots, gingham, etc., come put up in larger pieces. Dress patterns in lawn and calico are frequently imported.

"It must be borne in mind that the importers of this Republic are for the greater part Germans, and their interest and inclination lead them to trade with the fatherland. England also is preferred over the United States, possibly because Guatemala merchants can more easily identify themselves in England and get better credits. American goods therefore are imported only when their quality places them so far ahead of the European article that the merchant is almost compelled to have them in stock. The American manufacturers should become better acquainted with this trade, ascertain who are worthy of credit, and extend it. The long voyage and delay en route compel the importer to ask long credits. It is sometimes two or three months after shipments destined for this city leave the manufacturer before they can be displayed in the store of the importer. The custom duty on about all cotton goods is collected on gross weight of the package. Great care should be taken with invoices for custom-house purposes; the goods must be described in exact phraseology of Guatemala custom tariff."

[Pg 56]

CHAPTER V. Climate and Immigration.

The population of Guatemala according to the general census of the Republic taken at the beginning of 1904 was 1,842,000. This was the actual enumeration, but as there were many cases in which a complete account was not possible the inhabitants probably number 2,000,000. Of those enumerated by races 750,615 were Ladinos, and 1,091,519 were of the aboriginal race. The Ladinos are the descendants of the white race and of a mixture of European and Indian. The Indian population is principally engaged in farming and in small commercial enterprises in the interior. The Ladinos are much more energetic. The natives of the high and cold regions are the most vigorous.

For many years it has been the aim of the Guatemalan government to attract foreign immigration. Under President Estrada Cabrera's administration systematic measures for this purpose have been taken and the policy of encouraging immigrants and colonists, especially from the United States, has become a settled one. Practically one-half the fertile territory is yet uncultivated for want of tenants and there are many agricultural industries which require a very small amount of capital while they assure independence to those who follow them.

The first question asked is whether the natives of the temperate regions, Europeans and North Americans, can live and work in the climate. The answer is that there are large areas suitable for them where they may engage in coffee-growing, dairying, stock-raising and similar occupations.

The districts known as the Highlands or "Los Altos" are at an average elevation of 5,000 feet and comprise some of the most inviting sections of Guatemala. The uplands[Pg 57] include Quezaltenango, Solola, Quiche, Huehuetenango, Totonicapam, and San Marcos.

The Three Zones.

Usually in describing the country it is divided into three zones. The tierra caliente, or hot lands, comprise the coast of the Atlantic and the Pacific ocean.

The tierra templada, or temperate zone, covers the central plains which range from 2,000 to 5,000 feet above the sea level.

The tierra fria, or cold zone, comprises the highlands as noted above.

The year is divided into two seasons, the winter or rainy season lasting from May till October, and the dry season. The hottest months are March and April and the coldest ones December and January. Except along the coast the average temperature throughout the year is about 72° Fahrenheit. The climate on the coast is rendered endurable by the refreshing sea breezes which blow for several hours every day. Many people who live in the uplands in the rarefied atmosphere find it agreeable and beneficial to their health to spend a few weeks every season on the coast lands. The climate would be hot and moist except for the variations caused by the mountains which oppose themselves not only to the prevailing winds but also in rainfalls to the humidity of the air. The winds are from the east and north, although along the Pacific coast there are southern and southwestern winds at certain times in the year. In regard to rainfall the general rule is that the regions confronting the moist winds from the ocean have abundant precipitation while those defended by mountain ranges from the sea winds are dry.

The climate taking the country as a whole is an unusually healthy one. Fevers are not common and when they exist are confined to the warm and humid coast regions. No peculiar climatic disease exists in Guatemala and the country rarely suffers from epidemics. This is largely due to the strict sanitary measures which are enforced by the government.

[Pg 58]

A Poetical and Practical Description.

The following account of the climate in popular language is given by a well-known authority:

"The territory of the Republic belongs to the torrid zone comprised among the intertropical countries which are exempt from the rigorous winters of the countries of Europe, North and South America, and the Far East. The vegetation which droops in the dry season recovers a marvelous exuberance in the season of the rains. In every part it is encountered then rehabited in the most splendid garb of nature. The tropical countries at this period certainly are the motherland of all the plants which are cultivated throughout the world when as in the case of our Republic there are hot, temperate and cold zones in which the vegetation is perpetual and flourishes in the regions which possess perennial springs of flowing water to moisten the cultivated lands in the season of the drouths.

"The knowledge of the climates is of the highest importance for the agriculturist. It is his guide in the experiments for acclimatizing exotic plants which he seeks to introduce into his properties.

"The climate of a locality varies through the background of the mountains, through its sloping direction, its nearness to the sea, to the lakes, and to the selvas; through the direction and the forces of the periodical winds.

"Setting out from the low coastlands and ascending to the regions of the Altos or highlands, the naturalist admires successively the exuberant vegetation of the tropics and that of the cold countries.

"On account of the topography of the territory we have in the different zones of the Republic different climates characterized by our two seasons—that of the rains, our winter, and that of the dryness, our summer; characterized too by the intensity of the heat in the low zones of the coasts and by the crisp cold in the high plateaus of our mountains; by the force and duration of the periodic winds of the Northwest which in certain regions of the Republic blow with a violence harmful to agriculture.

[Pg 59]

"The temperature in the low zones fluctuates between 26° and 35° centigrade, averaging 28°. In the zones ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level the temperature fluctuates between 16° and 24°, the average being 20° to 22° centigrade. In the high zones or cold lands the temperature varies from 8° to 15°, the medium being 12° or 13°. In these zones from December to the end of March the temperature drops during the night to 1° centigrade and other times to 3° or 4°.

"The rains commence in May or June and continue until the middle of November. They are most violent from July to October. In the months of September and October there are sometimes storms and copious rains which last almost continuously from one to two weeks.

"Heavy dews are numerous and at times very copious in the summer in the low zones close to the sea, the lakes and the big marshes and also in the higher zones through the condensation of the vapors which absorb the sun's rays and become more condensed on reaching the colder regions of the atmosphere.

"The northeast winds are periodical and blow almost without interruption throughout the summer and with great violence on the coasts of the north and in the eastern sections of the country. The winds on the south coast are much milder and those in the western sections are insignificant.

"Under this drouthlike action the vegetation withers in the hot and dry zones. It flourishes most in the districts which possess perennial springs of running water for fertilizing.

"In the season of the rains there are strong hurricanes of southern winds which cause damage to agriculture, but happily they are not frequent.

"From the description of the varied climates of the Republic it will be seen that they are adapted to the cultivation of the richest tropical plants and for all the agricultural and industrial produce which is cultivated in the cold and temperate zones of the entire world.

[Pg 60]

"Besides, its vegetative season is one of perpetual cultivation, and in the plantations which possess water for irrigating the cultivated lands three crops a year can be raised in the hot zones as well as the temperate regions, and two crops of the cereals, wheat and Indian corn, in the cold regions; that is to say, the feeding of 30,000,000 inhabitants is possible besides fruits for a very extensive exportation."

Aids to Agriculture.

In a country so largely agricultural as Guatemala is the measures for the encouragement of farming may be taken as a means of judging the interest shown by the government. On this point President Estrada Cabrera in a recent message said:

"Agriculture as the prime factor of our richness has been the object of special attention during the last seven years of my administration. In order to broaden and improve it there has been established in the capital the General Department of Agriculture and in the districts and municipalities Boards for the same purpose. This Department has been authorized to publish a periodical The Bulletin of Agriculture which is given over exclusively to important farming studies. Seeds and plants have been brought from other countries and distributed among our farmers in order to establish new sources of production. Strict orders have been issued to secure the cultivation of the largest areas possible and also for establishing common seed grounds. Regulations have been made for the exploitation of rubber. In every possible manner the importation of farm tools and agricultural machinery has been facilitated. Contracts have been made for the exploitation of the woods in the forests of the north. Schools of agriculture have been created in order to further the study of these subjects by the issue of special bulletins under the direction of the Department of Agriculture."



[Pg 61]

Leading Points of Immigration Law.

A general immigration law was passed several years ago which has been supplemented by other laws since that time. At the outset immigration contracts with the Chinese are prohibited and the latter are not to be accepted as immigrants. The purpose of this is to insure white immigration and to prevent cheap coolie labor of a temporary character interfering with settlers who wish to establish themselves permanently. Immigrants are described as those foreigners having a profession, occupation or trade, whether day laborers, artisans, workingmen in factories, farmers or professors, who give up their own homes to come and settle in Guatemala and accept their transportation to be paid either by the Guatemalan government or by an immigration company. Immigrants also include the foreigners whose transportation is not paid by the government or by private companies. The wearing apparel and household furniture, tools, domestic animals and other possessions of immigrants are entered at the custom-house free of duty.

An important provision authorizes the government to grant gratuitously to immigrants lots of public lands in certain districts provided that the immigrants bind themselves to cultivate within two years the third part of the land granted. For this purpose zones of tillable land are set apart in the districts named.

Immigrants are exempted for a period of four years after their arrival from service in the construction or repair of the public roads and from the payment of municipal taxes. They are also exempted from military service except in the case of foreign war. They enjoy all the rights and privileges granted by law to Guatemalan citizens.

Public Lands for Settlers.

Under a general law a body of official engineers was created for surveying and distributing the uncultivated public lands and fixing the prices therefor. The price[Pg 62] varies according to the nature of the land, whether it is for grazing, raising cereals; whether capable of raising sugar, banana, etc.; whether adapted to coffee and cotton, or whether it contains forests. Public lands may also be granted to immigrants gratuitously. Information on these points can be had through correspondence with the Department of Agriculture called "Dirección General de Agricultura," in Guatemala City.

President Estrada Cabrera's land policy has been directed especially to prevent great areas from being kept out of cultivation. He has dictated many measures with the purpose of breaking up the huge estates that often are uncultivated for want of capital and making them productive through the encouragement of small capitalists or farmers.

The general system of highways and cart roads as well as of the railroads has been devised for this purpose.

With regard to colonization and immigration the policy of securing the benefit of the favored soil to settlers has been indicated in the correspondence with various companies and individuals. In a report by the Director of Agriculture he declared that immigration from North America would be very pleasing to Guatemala and would strengthen the cordial relations existing between the two countries. That the immigrants will be well received he was assured. Their practical character would be especially valuable in developing the resources of the country. The Director, however, called attention to the fact that in many places of the country the geological conditions were not similar to the prairies of the United States where in the beginning very much could be accomplished on a large scale by machinery. In many of the districts open to settlement in Guatemala much of the work of clearing would have to be done by hand. That is one reason why encouragement is given to the individual settlers instead of to companies.

To broaden and strengthen the present immigration law the Department of Agriculture has recommended that[Pg 63] certain lands be thrown open to settlement on the following conditions:

1. The government shall make the plan for the colony dividing the lands into lots of one caballeria (112 acres).

2. The settler shall take immediate possession of the lot which is granted him.

3. The government shall aid the removal of the colonists from their present place of residence to the point where they intend to settle. This aid to be extended under conditions which will insure its repayment.

4. The colonists on taking possession of their land shall obligate themselves to begin cultivating some of the following articles: rice, corn, beans, coffee, cacao, vanilla, rubber, cotton, hemp, etc.

5. The government shall designate from among the colonists some one who shall give general instruction with regard to the farming.

[Pg 64]

CHAPTER VI. International Relations.

Friendly relations with all countries, both neighboring and distant, is a leading point in President Estrada Cabrera's programme. The relations of Guatemala with the United States are particularly close and cordial.

In his annual message President Estrada Cabrera said:

"It is well known that the grand Republic of North America always has shown the most sympathetic regard for our country and the earnest effort of my government has been to strengthen the ties of friendship which unite the two nations. With this feeling existing there has been achieved during the period since 1898 the most flattering results, so that it can be confidently stated that never before have the relations between Guatemala and the United States reached so great a degree of cordiality as to-day, and it may be said that never has any cause of discord between the two governments been so remote as now. The death of the illustrious President McKinley, which was felt so deeply in Guatemala, and the advent into the Presidency of Mr. Roosevelt in no way interrupted the progress of affairs with our Republic and those which were pending followed their tranquil course towards a satisfactory arrangement."

The Secretary of Foreign Relations in his annual report said:

"Motives analogous to those which in foreign governments have caused congratulation over the re-election of Señor Estrada Cabrera as President of Guatemala have made it pleasing that the government of this Republic on its part could extend its congratulations over the re-election in the United States and Mexico respectively of Messrs.[Pg 65] Roosevelt and Diaz, two eminent statesmen whose conciliatory policies are well known, as likewise their sympathetic regard for Guatemala. The continuation of these illustrious personages in power is considered by this government as a guaranty of the increasing cordiality of the relations of Guatemala with them and it has also enabled at the same time to be placed in evidence with all sincerity the satisfaction which has been produced by their re-election in their respective countries."

These are correct statements, for the sentiment of profound sympathy and admiration which President Estrada Cabrera and the whole people of Guatemala entertain for President Roosevelt and for the American people are very marked. For President Roosevelt on account of his grand traits of character, of mentality and of heart and the spirit of humanity, justice and rectitude which make of him the chief magistrate most conspicuous, most respected, most popular and most cherished of the present day; and for the American people on account of their intelligence, their enterprising disposition and their unceasing labors for progress, which have gained for them so pre-eminent a place among all the nations of the earth as one of the grandest, most nourishing and most powerful.

Adherence to the Hague Peace Principles.

These quotations indicate the sentiment of Guatemala towards the two countries with which geographically and otherwise it is most closely allied. Further evidence of the friendship for the United States and of the desire to sustain its policies of international peace were afforded in the promptness with which President Roosevelt's suggestion of a second Peace Conference in The Hague was accepted. With regard to the United States the Secretary of Foreign Affairs stated:

"Knowing the importance of our relations with the great American nation it was a grateful duty to send a special mission to Washington with the sole object of [Pg 66]congratulating President Roosevelt. For the discharge of this function Señor Jorge Muñoz was selected and he discharged it with entire satisfaction to the government. This mission having been disposed of he was accredited permanently as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary.

"Inasmuch as it was not one of the ancient nations of Europe, but a young and virile Republic, the strongest in America, which launched the project through its distinguished President of a second Hague Conference to perfect and complete the works of the first one in favor of universal peace, it is to be hoped that this effort will be seconded by all the countries of the civilized world and that at no distant time when experience shall have shown the deficiencies in the conclusions adopted by previous Congresses those which may be adopted in the coming Peace Conference will be more efficacious for the success of the humanitarian and praiseworthy end which the United States proposes."

Guatemala previously had given its adhesion to the principles of arbitration promulgated under The Hague Convention. It was represented in the Second International American Conference held in Mexico 1901-1902, and the various treaties and recommendations made by that Conference were ratified or endorsed as in the case of the other signatory governments. The action taken by the government of Guatemala on the respective conventions and recommendations was officially transmitted to Señor Mariscal, Secretary of Foreign Relations of Mexico, in accordance with the resolution of the Conference.

Pecuniary Claims Arbitration.

Among the treaties promulgated by the Pan-American Conference in Mexico was one relating to pecuniary claims. This required the ratification of five governments in order to make it effective. Guatemala was one of the first to give its formal adhesion to this convention. This treaty was ratified by the United States Senate and promulgated by the Department of State from Washington in the spring of 1905, so that United States citizens can now claim[Pg 67] its benefits. The treaty consists of five articles. Under its terms the high contracting parties agree to submit to arbitration, through the Hague Court, all claims for pecuniary loss or damage which may be presented by their respective citizens and which cannot be amicably adjusted through diplomatic channels and when such claims are of sufficient importance to warrant the expenses of arbitration.

By virtue of Article 26 of the convention of The Hague the high contracting parties agree to submit to the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration established by that convention all controversies which are the subject-matter of the Treaty unless both parties should prefer that especial jurisdiction be organized according to Article 21.

If for any cause the Permanent Court of The Hague should not be opened to one or more of the high contracting parties they obligate themselves to stipulate in a special treaty the rules under which the tribunal shall be established as well as its forms of procedure.

In 1902 the administration of President Estrada Cabrera negotiated and the National Assembly ratified an agreement with Germany, Belgium, France, England, and Italy, which disposed of many subjects that had been in controversy.

Spain, the United States and Mexico did not enter into the agreement because those governments preferred to postpone the claims of their citizens until the industrial crisis was over and the financial conditions were improved. Since that time a number of claims have been adjusted satisfactorily. President Estrada Cabrera stated in a recent message that there were no claims at the present time which were weighing upon the national treasury. These matters having been arranged satisfactorily he said that no subject had arisen which could alter the friendly relations with the countries of Europe. This friendship was shown in the tribute paid by the Diplomatic Corps on New Year's day. Subsequently the governments of Germany and France had shown especial consideration by conferring on the President the Order of the Red Eagle and of the Legion of Honor respectively.

[Pg 68]

With Mexico the relations of Guatemala have been cordial since the boundary dispute was settled in 1895. Recently the commercial relations, on account of the construction of the Pan-American Railway through Mexican territory to the Guatemalan border have required the establishment of various consulates in important places in Mexico, and the exequaturs have been granted by the Mexican government.



Concord in Central America.

With respect to the neighboring republics of Central America the attitude of Guatemala has been open and pronounced. It desires to destroy every cause of discord among the Republics and to maintain a perfect equilibrium. Guatemala took part in the conference which was held at Corinto, Nicaragua, in August, 1904, and at which Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua also were represented. Through its delegate President Estrada Cabrera's government subscribed to the following declarations:

1. To maintain peace is the principal objective of our government, not only because it is a necessity for the various peoples, but also because it imposes itself as a duty which all Spanish American nationalities should fulfil. For this reason we firmly believe in the proposition to overcome in Central America every obstacle that may stand in the way of peace and we will put forth our strongest efforts to frustrate the schemes of those who seek to sow distrust and jealousy among us impelled as they are by the spirit of ambition or disorder.

2. The strict compliance with the international compacts which bind us shall be the test to which we submit our acts so that every effort to the contrary will be vain and barren since it is necessary to recognize that the generality of the labors of the enemies of each administration tend to no laudable ends but rather are the work of selfish egotists, of personal enmities or the aberration of unbalanced judgment.

[Pg 69]

3. We do not hesitate then in declaring that whatever scheme of discord, subversive attempt, or suggestion which proposes to break our loyal friendship shall receive no support among us because the sincerity and firmness of our relations as representatives of the peoples whom we serve are and always will be affirmed in this solemn agreement, which we make at the instance of Central America; an agreement which is the fruit of the efforts we have made as public men on different occasions.

4. We expect that all good citizens will give us in the sense indicated their patriotic co-operation inspired in ideals of peace and fraternity and contributing by supporting us in this accord to place an end to the discord which the enemies of the public tranquillity cause. And also upholding the liberal and progressive policy which governs our acts.

[Pg 70]

CHAPTER VII. The Land of Travel and History.

Guatemala is a fascinating country for the traveler and visitor. Antiquarians, deep delvers in the majestic monuments of the long forgotten past, seek in the myths, the traditions, the temples and the ruins the riddles of prehistoric civilization. Modern tourists traveling as they will be able to do within a short time by railway from New York or San Francisco to the very heart of Guatemala may lose themselves in admiration of the sublime scenery, the lovely landscapes of valley and mountain lake and forest (the Indian name for Guatemala means abounding in trees), volcanic caps, giant outlines, and cloud-clad craters. Everywhere they will encounter that diversity which is the chief attraction of natural scenery. They will find also superimposed on the prehistoric Indian civilization the charm of Spanish architecture, customs, character and institutions.

Men of the stamp of President Estrada Cabrera who are engaged in the material upbuilding and the political progress of the country may prefer to talk of its agriculture and commerce, its opportunities for the energetic and resourceful people of the northern regions rather than to discuss its picturesque ruins audits fascinating history. Yet they would not have these subjects neglected. Hence the traveler and the tourist always are welcome, and whether they be deeply learned scientific investigators or mere birds of passage seeking novelty every provision is made to aid them in their travels.

Nature's Bold Hand.

In the very accurate and complete physiographic description of Guatemala contained in the report of the [Pg 71]Intercontinental Railway Survey the following description is given of the great chain of volcanic cones and peaks which add so greatly to the bold picturesqueness of the country.

"The Pacific coast extends generally from the northwest to the southeast. From the sea the ground rises with a very gentle slope inland for almost 25 or 30 miles when the country becomes broken by the lava foothills of the volcanoes which extend from one end of the country to the other and which stand like a giant wall between the coast and the interior. Beginning at the Mexican boundary the line of volcanoes extends nearly parallel to the coast. Back of this is a plateau limited on the other side by the Continental Divide and much broken by spurs which unite the volcanoes with the Divide and the deep valleys between the spurs. The plateau is drained by rivers which run to the sea through the deep canyons between the volcanoes. The Continental Divide begins with the volcano Tacana and making a semicircular bend to the north and east rises again in the volcano Tajumulco. From this point its general direction is easterly as far as the Cerro Tecpam. Tacana and Tajumulco are the highest points on this are being respectively 13,334 and 13,814 feet above sea level. From Tajumulco to near Totonicapam the general altitude of the Divide is about 9,000 feet, the most prominent peaks being the Cerro Cerchil 11,830 feet, and the Cerro Calel 10,813 feet. From Totonicapam to Cerro Tecpam the general elevation of the Divide is about 10,500 feet with one peak, the Cerro Quiche of 11,160 feet. From Cerro Tecpam 10,050 feet, the Divide turns to the southeast and drops to a general elevation of about 7,000 feet, crossing the plateau and rising again in the Cerro Santa Maria Cauqué. Following the hills of Mexico, it crosses the plain near Guatemala City, the suburb of Guarda Viejo, 5,060 feet, being on the Divide."

The heights of other principal volcanoes are given opposite:

[Pg 72]

Acatenango 13,012
Fuego 12,821
Agua 12,300
Atitlan 11,849
Santa Maria 10,535
Quezaltenango    9,358
Pacaya 7,675
Ipala 6,801
Chingo 6,019

Variety in Geological Structure.

In the geological structure of the country unusual variety of character is shown. The quarternary formation, aluvium and diluvium, covers the greater portion of the Pacific coast from the foot of the mountains to the sea. The same formation is also observed in the neighborhood of Guatemala City, the valley of the Passion River, Puerto Barrios and various other localities on the Atlantic Slope.

The tertiary formation and particularly limestone covers the entire Department of Peten. Furthermore, limestones and dolomites of the upper cretaceous age are noted from La Libertad toward the Usumacinta River and toward British Honduras. In the localities of San Luis and Santa Bárbara there are tertiary limestones and sandstones of Eocene and miocene ages.

The limestones and dolomites of the upper cretaceous age are also found in various localities mixed with tertiary limestone and sandstone as well as conglomerates, dolomites, and limestones of the lower cretaceous age. In other sections they are mixed with limestones and dolomites of the upper carboniferous age mingled with slate, sandstone and pudding stone. The latter formation is found in other sections with precarboniferous limestone and also with crystalline limestone of the azoic age.

The tertiary formation is followed by an azoic formation of gneiss, mica slate, and phylada with large intrusions of granite. A kind of horn-blend slate has been observed in some parts of Izabal.



[Pg 73]

The eruptive formations are composed of porphyry in the north and northwest; of diorite, obsidian, rhyolite, and dacite and of trachyte, together with basalt, rhyolite, obsidian and granite in other sections. The eruptive formations are further composed of basalt in Pacaya and several other volcanoes; and mostly of ambesite in the rest of the Cordilleras and the highlands.

For the present-day traveler who is interested in earthquakes and their effects and in the ruins of Spanish architecture, nothing more entertaining can be found than a visit to La Antigua, which can be reached from Guatemala City by a few hours' ride in carriage or on horseback. Antigua stretches through the beautiful and fertile valley which in the Indian language means dry lake because the tradition exists that in prehistoric times there was a fine sheet of water covering the land. The panorama which delights the eye from any elevated point of Antigua is glorious. The three volcanoes of Acatenango, Agua (water) and Fuego (fire) lose their majestic combs in the clouds. In every direction spread fertile fields with an infinite number of coffee and sugar plantations in every state of production. The borders of the city are bathed by two charming rivers, the Pensativo and the Portal. In the immediate neighborhood are hygienic baths of pure crystalline water.

Prehistoric Ruins and Famed Lake Atitlan.

Many volumes have been written about the prehistoric ruins of Guatemala and especially of Copan. One of the most recent and most sumptuously illustrated is that by Anne Cary Maudslay and Alfred Percival Maudslay entitled "A Glimpse at Guatemala." It was published in London. In this book Professor Maudslay gives the following description of a visit to the ruins at Quiriguá:

"The ruins, which are completely hidden in a thick tropical forest, stand about three-quarters of a mile from the left bank of the river Motagua and about five miles from the miserable little village of Quiriguá, from which they[Pg 74] take their name. They consist of numerous square or oblong mounds and terraces varying from six to forty feet in height, some standing by themselves, others clustered in irregular groups. Most of these mounds were faced with worked stone and were ascended by flights of stone steps.

"The interest centers in the thirteen large carved monoliths which are arranged irregularly round what were probably the most important plazas. Six of these monuments are tall stones measuring three to five feet square and standing fourteen to twenty feet out of the ground. The other five are oblong or rounded blocks of stone shaped so as to represent huge turtles or armadilloes or some such animals. All these monuments are covered with elaborate carving. Usually on both back and front of the tall monoliths there is carved a huge human figure standing full face and in a stiff and conventional attitude. The sides of the monuments are covered with tables of hieroglyphs, most of them in fairly good preservation. In addition to these tables of hieroglyphs there are series of square or cartouches of what appears to be actual picture writing, each division measuring about eighteen inches square and containing usually two or three grotesque figures of men and animals. The design of these picture writings shows considerable variety and freedom of treatment as compared with that of the large sizes human figures in the execution of which the artist seems to have been bound by conventional rules.

"The largest of the stone animals is perhaps the most remarkable of all the monuments. Its measurement is roughly a cube of eight feet, it must weigh nearly twenty tons and it rests on three large slabs of stone. It is shaped like a turtle and is covered with a most elaborate and curious ornament and with tables of hieroglyphics and cartouches of picture writing. The greater part of the ornament throughout these carvings is formed from the grotesque representations of the human face or the faces of animals, the features frequently so greatly exaggerated that it is most difficult to recognize them, but a careful examination enables one almost invariably to trace back to this facial[Pg 75] origin what at first sight appears to be merely conventional scroll work. Forms derived from leaves or flowers are altogether absent; occasional use is made of a plaited ribbon and a very free use of plumes of feathers which are oftenmost gracefully arranged and beautifully carved. The fifteen monuments are divided into two groups; in one the figures are all those of men, in the other of women."

The same authors give the following vivid description of the famed Lake Atitlan:

"Our tent was pitched so close to the precipice that even from my bed I had a grand view into the Lake and could watch the black masses of the volcanoes looming clear-cut and solemn in the moonlight or changing from black to gray in the early dawn; then a rosy flush would touch the peak of Atitlan and the light creep down its side, revealing for a brief half hour every detail of cinder ridge and chasm on its scarred and wounded slopes until with a sudden burst of glory the sun rose above the eastern hills to strike the mirror-like surface of the Lake and flood the world with warmth and dazzling light. Every peak and mountain ridge now stood out clear and sharp against the morning sky, and only in the shadow of the hills would a fleecy mist hang over the surface of the lake far beneath us; then almost before the sun had power to drink up these lees of the night from the deep gap between the hills to the south, a linger of white cloud, borne up from the seaward slope, would creep around the peak of Atitlan only to be dissipated in the cooler air; but finger followed finger and the mysterious hand never lost its grasp until about noon great billowy clouds rolled up through the gap and the outpost was fairly captured although the crater itself often stood out clear above the cloudy belt. It was not, however, until the sun began to lose its power that the real attack commenced and the second column deployed through the gap on the southern flank of San Pedro and then from five o'clock until dark there followed a scene which no pen and no brush could adequately portray. The[Pg 76] clouds seemed to be bewitched; they came down on us in alternate black and sunlit masses, terrible in their majesty; then rolled aside to show us all the beauty of a sunset sky, tints of violet that shaded into pink, and pink that melted into the clearest blue, whilst far away beyond the mountain seaward rolled vast billowy masses, first red and yellow and then pink fading to the softest green. Again and again would the clouds roll down upon us, the mist at times so thick that we could not see beyond a hundred yards; then just as quickly it would roll away and reveal a completely new phase of this ever shifting scene of beauty. As the sun sank behind San Pedro all turned again to dark and angry purple with contrasts and reflections like the sheen of a shot silk. Slowly the mists melted away with the fading daylight, Venus hung for a while like a splendid jewel in the air and the mountains turned again to shadowy masses outlined against a crystal sky."

Fascinating History Through the Centuries.

Historically every period of Guatemala is fascinating. Usually the history of the country is divided into the epochs of the aborigines, the Spanish Conquest, Independence, and the era of liberal governments.

Across the centuries the path of history can be traced. A book written in the 16th century by one of the aborigines of the time of the Conquest and called "Popol-Vuh" or "Book of the People," speaks of the Quiches, vigorous and hardy natives of the soil, forerunners of the Guatemalan people as having reached at that time a degree of advance which singled them out from among the other primitive inhabitants of America. Their religious system was in essence a kind of animal worship whose gods were personified by the fox, the coyote, and the wild boar to be soon reemployed through natural evolution by the forces of nature such as the heavens, the earth, and the sea. They left as evidences of their worship the multitude of monuments whose imposing ruins are preserved today. Pyramids which seem to bear traces of Egypt and characters[Pg 77] indicative of a remote Asiatic origin; temples, such as the Temple of the Sun, of grand architecture; and the Palace, dwelling of the King, a holy being and the Supreme Arbiter. The latter is among the most notable of American antiquities and it causes admiration through the graduated pyramid, the triangular vault and the arch forming an harmonious whole. The Quiche civilization was an advanced one and its government was a theocracy in which the High Priest was both the Supreme Governor and inherited the name of the primitive god Votan. This theocracy was drawn from among the warriors while the people in complete servitude tilled the fields in order to sustain the worship and raise grand monuments and built numerous cities on the borders of the lakes and rivers.

Agriculture was well advanced. Cacao was cultivated with grand ceremonies and maize or Indian corn which was guarded with profound veneration because according to the ancient tradition man was formed from it. Cotton was also grown and brilliant garments woven from it which were dyed with cochineal and pigments formed from various plants. Tobacco was cultivated and yucca, beans, potatoes, etc. Various textiles were fabricated of the finest quality and many of the palaces and temples were hung with this tapestry.

Ceramics and various kinds of pottery were manufactured both for use and for ornament. The sciences and the arts were developed. The fame of the Quiche calendar exists today. The aborigines also understood painting, sculpture, and music. They made plumes and cloaks from the feathers of the birds and they wrote upon a paper prepared from the Amatl. Their language was liquid and possessed few inflections. It was the most perfect of the six hundred or more languages which the Spaniards encountered in the Isthmus of Central America. They had a literature of their own and from this fragments have been preserved notably the drama "Rabinal Achi."

[Pg 78]

Spanish Conquest and What Came After.

Guatemala was conquered by the Lieutenant of Cortez, Pedro de Alvarado. In April, 1524, he crowned his series of victories over the Quiches by routing them on the plains of Urbina, capturing and condemning to perish by hanging the two last Kings of the most powerful monarchy of Central America; Oxib-Queh and Beleheb-Tzy. In July of the same year he founded the city of Guatemala, although this was not definitely established until November, 1527.

Within a few years all the regions of Central America had submitted to the Spanish Crown and formed the Kingdom of Guatemala, to the capital of which was transferred in 1549 the Royal Audiencia or High Court. Guatemala was the head of Spanish power in Central America under the general term of the Spanish Captain Generalcy for two centuries.

During the two hundred and fifty years following the Conquest the country had three capitals in turn, all named Guatemala City. The first, founded by Alvarado, was on the very spot where he fought the battle which made him conqueror. The Indian kings of the South having heard of the exploits of Cortez in Mexico, sent an embassy to him which he received with distinction. He sent his favorite Lieutenant Alvarado back to take possession. Alvarado and his three hundred Spanish soldiers were nearly a year in making the journey through the forest. When the Indians opposed him he gave continuous battle and finally conquered. He destroyed their capital, razed the temple of their idols to the ground, and built on its site a church.

For seventeen years Alvarado kept the Indians at work building a new capital on the site of their old one. Then came the earthquake which destroyed the place and buried nine-tenths of the inhabitants under the ruins. A new location was found, but again, in 1773, by the eruption of Santa Maria the capital was destroyed. This is the group of picturesque ruins now known as La Antigua. With the destruction of this capital a third and final movement to the splendid situation in the Hermit Valley was made and[Pg 79] the new capital which is the Guatemala City of today was established.

After years of struggle against the Spanish domination, beginning in 1811, Guatemala secured its independence, which was proclaimed September 15, 1821, when in place of the Kingdom of Guatemala there was established "A nation free and independent of every other nation." The history of subsequent years is interwoven with the events of other Central American countries. After many evolutions and disorders as well as revolutionary changes of government, the era known as the period of reform and the re-establishment of the liberties of the country began in 1871.

Chapters of Recent History.

The events which led to the adoption of the liberal Constitution of 1879, which is today in force, do not need to be recounted here. General Justo Rufino Barrios, who had been the leading spirit in the Liberal revolution, was a pronounced advocate of the union of all the Central American States in a single federal republic. He endeavored to accomplish this against the opposition of Salvador and was killed at the battle of Chalchuapa in 1885. He was succeeded by General Manuel Lisandro Barillas, who exercised the government from 1887 to 1892. After him came General José Maria Reyna Barrios, who during the first four years of his administration gave a good government and worked much for the prosperity of his country. In the last two years, however, through the bad counsels of selfish advisers foreign to his government he sought to extend the term of his authority and was resisted by successive revolutions. He was assassinated by a personal enemy of European nationality in February, 1898, and Guatemala was then left in the midst of a most disastrous condition, both industrial and political.

It was at this period that Manuel Estrada Cabrera, the lawyer, came into power and began the series of administrative reforms and measures for the material [Pg 80]development of the country which have so vastly improved the condition of the people, have re-established credit and given assurance of further progress under continuous peace and tranquillity. It is these beneficial measures which have caused President Estrada Cabrera to be signalized as the chief of the modern emancipation of Guatemala in its policies, in its intellectual and moral advancement, and as the author of its present progress. Under his government order in administration has been secured, respect for the rights of all, material development in countless forms, the general improvement of the people and the most perfect harmony and equity in international relations have been obtained. It is the success of these policies, which is now assured, that makes Guatemala so clearly the country of the future and entitles Estrada Cabrera to rank with the most distinguished heads of State of the present day.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Guatemala, the country of the future, by 
Charles M. Pepper


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