Guatemala: Against the Odds

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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 extremist agitation from both right-wing and Communist terrorists. Though Méndez was not talking specific solutions or programs last week, he was confident in the knowledge that he had fully 30 of the new Guatemalan Congress' 55 members on his side, and—for the time being at least—ex-Strongman Peralta.