Guatemala: Against the Odds

At almost the same hour of the morning that the Dominican Republic inaugurated its new President last week, tiny, tumultuous Guatemala swore in a new top man of its own. Installed as its 21st President Julio César Méndez Montenegro, 50, a left-of-center former law professor who succeeds the 39-month-old military regime of General Enrique Peralta Azurdia.

Like the Dominican Republic's Balaguer, Méndez faces some heavy historical adds. Since Guatemala's inde pendence in 1847, only one civilian President, Leftist Juan Jose Arévalo (1945-51), has completed his term. Besides an itchy military, Guatemala is also plagued by a stagnant economy and mounting...

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