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230 years of the foundation of Guatemala City

Neighborhood Ciudad Vieja, zone 10

Interesting sites: Government Organizations


Headquarters of the Ministry of Education

Guatemala City, November 2006/ According to Governmental Agreement on July 18, 1872, the Ministry of Education was created as a part of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs, during the Provisional Presidency of General Miguel Garcia Granados. The first Minister was Licenciado José Miguel Vasconcelos, a hardworking and intelligent person, with the necessary qualities for the job that was entrusted on him.


The same year of its creation, he reprinted, in the print shop Luna y Suc., the “Catecismo Político Constitucional de la República Mejicana”, written by Nicolas Pizarro and reproduced in Guatemala by order of José Abal. The same would be used as textbook in the first secular, free and compelling elementary schools which were to replace the religious ones.

So, we could say that our educational system departs from the foundations of a program of our northern neighbor country. However, this situation did not lasted long, since two years later the first textbooks for Guatemalan children appeared, written by Licenciado José María Vela Irisarri. These were used until the thirties of the 20th Century. Parallel to these, another books and learning methods were selected, and the first study pensa were structured. In 134 years, such pensa have suffered changes, but not meaningful reforms that could influence in a good educational quality offered to each Guatemalan.

Among the Ministers that have occupied this office we can mention: Lic. Marco Aurelio Soto, Lic. Joaquín Macal, Lic. Lorenzo Montúfar, Lic. José María Barberena, Lic. Manuel Cabral, Lic. Ramón Murga, Lic. Manuel Aparicio, Lic. Manuel Antonio Herrera, Lic. Carlos Martínez Durán, Licda. Arabella Castro, Engineer María del Carmen Aceña de Fuentes.

The space occupied by this ministry was donated by the Samayoa Ayau Family in 1904, in order to build in it the Estrada Cabrera Convalescents’ Asylum, as it is recorded in the certification issued for that matter, which says:


The undersigned First Registrar of Real Estate certifies: that on page 245 of the book 83 of Guatemala, the estate No. 2056 is registered and literally says:

–No. 1– It measures 22909.86 m2 which is the same as three manzanas 2858 v2, bordering to the east with Boulevard 30 de Junio, to the north with lands of Mrs. María Samayoa de Ayau, to the west with lands of María S. de Ayau, and Mrs. Hortensia S. de del Valle and Mr. Rafael Samayoa.

Mrs. Hortensia S. de del Valle, authorized by her husband, and Mr. Julio Samayoa as authorized representative of his siblings, Mr. Rafael Samayoa and Mrs. María S. de Ayau donate the fraction that breaks up from estates Nos. 2421, 2422 y 2423, pages 51, 53 and 55 of the book 68 of this Department, in favor of the State, in order to build the “Convalescents’ Asylum Estrada Cabrera”. This fraction is estimated like this: $2,479.78 pesos is the donated part of Mrs. Hortensia S. de del Valle and $3,620.92 pesos the donated part of Mr. Rafael Samayoa.

The donation was accepted by Lic. Manuel Arandi G. as Fiscal Agent of the Government, having been authorized for it according to Governmental Agreement dated May 21 of the present year. This is recorded in authorized deed of this city on the 26 of the present, by Government Notary, Mr. Vicente Sáenz and presented yesterday at three p.m., according to Annotation No. 80, page 49, volume 117 of the Diario. Guatemala, July 29, 1904. Fernando Aragón D. –Seal–.

–No. 2– The mentioned fractions are now respectively No. 20.777 y 20.778 pages 79 and 80 of the Book 207 of Guatemala, of Rafael Samayoa and Rafael Ayau Samayoa. Deed in Annotation 209, page 144, volume 314. Guatemala, May 31, 1928. Hos. 1. q. –A. González. –Seal.–

And to submit to the Department of National Estates of the Treasury and Public Credit Ministry I issue the present certification, in Guatemala on December 21, 1928. – It is spread upon the record that there are no pending appeals or notices. – Illegible signature.


However, the architectonic complex built in there, which included the Convalescents’ Asylum Estrada Cabrera (1901), the Joaquina Maternity (1907) and the Military Hospital, was destroyed with the earthquakes of 1917-18 and after a long drawback lawsuit due to the downfall of Manuel Estrada Cabrera (1920), the land finally went to the State in 1928. In the meanwhile, in 1924, President Orellana ordered the construction of a building for the School of Arts and Skills, inaugurated by President Lázaro Chacón in 1928.

Later, in 1949 this building sheltered the Industrial Institute “Tecún Umán” and finally, in 1997 the building was transformed into the Ministry of Education with the purpose of updating it, but at the same time, respecting the undeniable historic and cultural value of the building. The present design was carried on by Architect Rafael Pérez de León, who also designed the National Palace, with predominant classic elements in its architectonic style.

The Ministry of Education is located in Avenida La Reforma and 6th street of zone 10, Neighborhood “Ciudad Vieja”. The present Minister is Engineer Carmen Aceña de Fuentes.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs


This Ministry is Guatemala’s Government Institution on which the external and international policy of our country is planned, executed and conducted. In this sense, the Political Constitution of the Republic empowers the President to lead the foreign and international political affairs; to celebrate, amend and proclaim treaties and agreements in compliance with the Magna Charta; and to receive the diplomatic representatives, as well as send and withdraw the exequatur (or acceptance) to consuls. In these and other businesses, the President of the Republic acts in coordination and delegating in this Ministry.

During the last years, this institution has made significant efforts to transform into a modern organization, accompanying the worldwide tendencies in its chancelleries. In 1988, a restructuring was made, in order to substantially modify its organizational and operational structure. From that account, it works leaded by a Minister and two Vice-ministers with their respective multidisciplinary advisors.

The organization is structured by four General Directorates and other specialized units as the Directorate of International Borders and Waters, Directorate of Legal Affairs and Agreements, and the Directorate of the Supervision of Foreign Service.

In Guatemala, the foreign affairs appeared from the moment on which our country obtains its political independence in 1821, when the Public Administration started to be organized. The same is strengthened in 1823 when the annexation to Mexico finishes and the Federation of Central American States is created. But the Secretariat of Foreign Businesses is not definitely authorized until August 22, 1846, when according to the denominated Law 21, it is created and substitutes what previously was a section of the foreign affairs. It was preserved as a Secretariat until 1944, date on which it was adopted with the present name of Ministry.

The offices occupied today by the Ministry were previously occupied by the Central American Institute of Industrial Research and Technology–ICAITI for its initials in Spanish–, created by the UNO in 1955; and who worked for 49 years under the administration of the Ministries of Economy of the Isthmus, developing information programs, technical-economical studies, research and development, training, microbiological, geological, energetic, chemical, and food analysis services; as well as financial development and technical assistance.

It was also this institution which started the formulation of a quality seal for the region, the development of the Quality Policies ISO-9000 and the implantation of a metrology laboratory. Due mainly to political factors, the ICAITI stop functioning in the year 1999 and with Resolution 55-99 of the Ministers’ Council, the laboratories and library were granted in custody to the Universities del Valle de Guatemala, Rafael Landívar and San Carlos de Guatemala, as well as the Ministry of Economy and SIECA.

Once the institution was cancelled, the land was returned to the State, deciding to establish the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this place, which until that moment was distributed in several buildings of the Historic Center of the capital city. Its present location is in Avenida La Reforma 4-47, zone 10, Neighborhood “Ciudad Vieja”. The present Minister is Licenciado Gert Rosenthal.


The Ministry of National Defense


Guatemala’s National Defense is conceived under a context of peace and respect of the rights and interests of individuals and the Nation, with the firm resolution of achieving the common welfare, overcoming the antagonisms and obstacles that might confront that goal.


Ministry of Defense

Security as a condition is achieved through a group of actions and measures, which prevent and give productive response to the risks, threats and vulnerabilities, in order to reach the national and global objectives, inside the Framework Agreement of Democratic Security in Central America. Such agreement is based on the Rule of Law, security of people and its property, security of the region and it also considers the necessary organization and institutionalism for the well functioning of the model and is inspired in goals achieved during the peace and regional integration process.


It also promotes, through the Department of Human Rights, the enforcement and validity of the natural fundamental rights of an individual, the dignity, physical and psychic integrity, and improvement of the quality of life of the Army members.


The so called Liberal Revolution of 1871, leaded by Generals Miguel Garcia Granados and Justo Rufino Barrios, implied great advances for the country; bringing the greatest accomplishment in military history, with the foundation of the Escuela Politécnica (Polytechnic) and thanks to which the Army emerged as a professional institution. It might be said, that from that moment on, the advancement for the Army took a new direction, since changes continued in benefit of its members and the country, with new perspectives and projections, and whose educational and formative function of the members allowed great accomplishments, among which we can mention the appearance of national aviation in 1912, efficiently consolidated in 1921, with figures such as Colonels Jacinto Rodríguez Díaz, Miguel García Granados (grandson), Carlos Mérlen, Ricardo Rodas, Oscar Morales López and others.


In 1945, the War Secretariat disappears and the Ministry of National Defense sees the lights, also designating a new organization for the Guatemalan Air Force. Different regulations are updated, leaving behind those who were in force until then.


In a more recent period, the military arena has observed more changes that have been motivated by the spirit of progress in the country. Since the main goal of the Army, according to a constitutional prescript is to maintain the sovereignty, liberty, territorial integration and peace of the Republic; and this has implicated the creation of the National Defense Navy with headquarters and the navy school.


The present moments have inspired the reorganization of military commands, establishing new outbuildings inside a modern technological field and projecting to the population. Trying to accomplish, with this, the mission entrusted by specific objectives and thanks to the greater professionalism of the members that serve in the military dependencies. They hope to give their best to the institution and mainly to Guatemala, going far beyond to what formed the Army more than two thousand years ago, the need to protect the population, culture and territory.

The Ministry of National Defense is located in what used to be the offices of the Escuela Politécnica in Avenida La Reforma and First and Second Streets of zone 10, Neighborhood “Ciudad Vieja”. The Superior Officials of this organization are: Licenciado Oscar Berger Perdomo, General Commander of the Guatemalan Army, Division General Francisco Bermúdez Amado, Minister of National Defense, and Division General Ronaldo Cecilio Leiva Rodríguez, Chief of the National Defense Staff.


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