Revolution Day in Guatemala in 2024

Revolution Day in Guatemala in 2024
  How long until Revolution Day?
Revolution Day
  Dates of Revolution Day in Guatemala
2025 Guatemala Mon, Oct 20 National Holiday
2024 Guatemala Sun, Oct 20 National Holiday
2023 Guatemala Fri, Oct 20 National Holiday
2022 Guatemala Thu, Oct 20 National Holiday
2021 Guatemala Wed, Oct 20 National Holiday

In 1944, university students and military leaders aligned to overthrow the dictator Jorge Ubico

When is Revolution Day?

Revolution Day is a national holiday in the Republic of Guatemala on October 20th.

This holiday commemorates the revolution that took place on this day in 1944.

History of Revolution Day

In 1929 the economic ravages of the Great Depression were being felt worldwide, including Central America. It caused high levels of unemployment and unrest in Guatemala.

To stop the country descending into chaos, the Guatemalan authorities needed someone to take control and give strong leadership. They looked to Jorge Ubico, who had earned a hardman reputation as a provincial governor. Ubico won the 1931 elections, which wasn't a great shock to the pollsters given he was the only candidate.

Ubico set about his task of improving the country's economic fortunes and imposed an over-zealous and punitive set of labour laws.

He effectively militarised the country, by making each provincial governor a general and putting military officers in charge of many government posts.

During the second world war, he gave support to the Americans (mainly to annoy Mexico) but that didn't stop him openly admiring the achievements of European fascists such as Franco in Spain and Mussolini in Italy. 

Napoleon Complex

It's not known what posters if any, the teenage Ubico had on his bedroom wall, but Napoleon would have been a safe bet as he was like a dog with a Bonaparte when it came to Napoleon. Ubico considered himself to be "another Napoleon". He surrounded himself with statues and paintings of Napoleon, regularly commenting on the similarities between their appearances. Though he wasn't particularly short - but then neither was Napoleon, despite what British propaganda might have us believe.

Not surprisingly he was seen as a dictator by many Guatemalans and a pro-democracy movement led by university students and labour organizations grew in strength in the 1940s.

On July 1st 1944 the movement forced Ubico to resign in response to a series of protests and a general strike.

To replace himself, Ubico appointed a three-person military junta, led by Federico Ponce Vaides. Though Ubico had gone, his hated policies remained. 

On October 20th 1944 the "October Revolution", a coup d'état led by Major Francisco Javier Arana and Captain Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán, toppled the junta. 

The revolution began the so-called "Ten Years of Spring" which lasted until 1954, the only years of representative democracy in Guatemala from 1930 until the end of the civil war in 1996.

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