Guatemala State Overview
Guatemala with its area of 109,724 sq. km, occupies second place by surface, after Nicaragua, while regarding population it is first among all the Central American states. It borders the Atlantic Ocean (Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Honduras), British Honduras, Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, El Salvador, Honduras. The limits are partially natural and given by stretches of rivers (Chixoy-Usumacinta; Suchiate, Río de la Paz, Sarstoon). The age-old question of the limits between Guatemala and Honduras has not yet been resolved, the latter republic wanting to reach the Río Motagua, from the confluence of the Manague to its mouth.
Constitution. – The constitution of the republic is that of December 1879, modified on December 30, 1927. The president must be at least 30 years old and is elected for 6 years by popular suffrage; it is without personal responsibility; it is immovable; exercises executive power; he is commander of the armed forces; he cannot dissolve the national assembly, he cannot be re-elected until after 12 years. The national assembly is made up of 67 members (ievery 30,000 residents), elected every four years by popular suffrage and renewable for half every two years. The assembly exercises legislative power. Any citizen who has reached the age of 21 and who can read and write is eligible for election and eligibility. The co1isiglio di Stato is made up of 7 members of which three are elected by the national assembly and four are appointed by the president. Ministers are appointed and dismissed by the president and are accountable to him.
The country is ecclesiastically divided into two bishoprics (Guatemala and Quezaltenango) and the apostolic vicariate of Verapaz and Petén.
All valid men, who pay at least 50 pesos in annual contributions, are required to do military service, from the 18th to the 30th year in the active army, and from the 30th to the 50th year in the militia.
Budgets and public debt. – Guatemala’s budget is fundamentally based on customs duties which alone give more than 3/5 of the revenue; the main expenditure is that incurred for the service of the public debt:
As of December 31, 1930, the public debt amounted to a total of 16.2 million quetzales, of which over 12 million were foreign debt and the remainder was internal debt (only a minor part of which was floating).
Money and credit. – The monetary system of Guatemala was completely reformed with the decree of 26 November 1924, which replaced the peso or dollar-silver, which had been the nominal monetary unit since 1870, with a new unit: the quetzal -gold corresponding to the dollar-gold of the United States, and stabilized the inconvertible paper money, then in circulation, at the rate of 60 paper pesos per 1 quetzal, establishing the progressive withdrawal of the paper pesos and allocating particular funds to the reimbursement. La Caja Reguladora, invested in circulation control since 1924, was transformed, by law of 30 June 1926, into the Central Bank of Guatemala, to which the monopoly of the issue was attributed for 10 years and treasury functions were assigned on behalf of the government.
As of December 31, 1930, the circulation amounted to 6.5 million quetzales, of which 5.4 million in central bank notes and 1.1 in notes of the old issuing banks (which in 1926 amounted to 7.9 million) not yet refunded. Gold reserves at June 30, 1930 amounted to 2.7 million and those in foreign currencies extended to 0.9 million. The United States dollar circulates freely in Guatemala.