Central America Political Chronology

Central American countries sign integration accord
Central America

1501 Rodrigo de Bastidas, first European to set foot on Central America, discovers Isthmus of Darién.

1502 Christopher Columbus sails along coast from Bay Islands to Panama, giving many places names.

1504 Bastidas returns to Darién, captures 600 Indian slaves.

1506-08 Juan Díaz de Solís and Vicente Yáñez discover Amatique Bay and sail along Central American coast, searching for westward passage.

1509 First Spanish settlements on mainland of America established under leadership of Alonso de Ojeda and Diego de Nicuesa.

1510 Ojeda founds settlement on Gulf of Urabá (Darién), but returns to Santo Domingo when he is wounded. Vasco Nùñez de Balboa emerges as leader of Darién.
    Requerimiento provides for "legal" war against Indians by Spaniards.

1512 War breaks out between Cakchiquel, in alliance with Aztec, and Quiché in Guatemalan highlands.

1513 Laws of Burgos. Balboa discovers Pacific Ocean (South Sea). Pedros Arias de Avila (Pedrarias Dávila) named Governor of Castilla del Oro.

1514 Iximché (Cakchiquel capital) nearly destroyed entirely by fire. Pedrarias takes command at Darién.

1517 Balboa executed at Darién. Francisco Fernádez de Còrdoba killed in expedition against Maya in Yucatán. Carlos I (Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) becomes King of Spain. Spanish Crown authorizes African slavery as substitute for Indian labor in America.

1518 Juan de Grijalva leads expedition from Cuba to coast of Yucatán, but fails to establish a settlement.

1519 Expedition of Fernando Cortés to Mexico, news of which brings suspension of war between Cakchiquel and Quiché. Pedrarias founds Panama City. Hernán Ponce de León and Juan de Castañeda explore Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

1521 Quiché resume war against Cakchiquel.

1522 Gil González launches exploration of Pacific coast of Central America and moves into Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Andrés Niño discovers Gulf of Fonseca.

1523 Carlos I orders Cortés to search both coasts for route through the hemisphere. Luis Marín, one of Cortés officers, establishes Espíritu Santo, first European settlement in Chiapas. Gil González returns to Panamá, claiming to have baptized 32,000 Indians in Nicaragua.

1524 Pedro de Alvarado conquers Guatemala, defeating Tecúm Umán at Xelajú, then is defeated by the Pipiles at Cuscatlán in El Salvador. Alvarado establishes Santiago de Guatemala at Iximché. Pedrarias sends Francisco Hernández de Córdoba and Hernando de Soto into Nicaragua to challenge claim of Gil González. Hernández de Córdoba establishes León and Granada. Gil González sails to Honduras, bringing first European woman and first African to Central America; he marches to Nicaragua, but is forced to return out of fear of Hernández de Córdoba larger force. Cristóbal de Olid sails to Honduras from Mexico and establishes Triunfo de la Cruz. Cortéz sends Francisco de las Casas to Honduras to discipline Olid, but Olid captures him; later, Las Casas and González overpower and murder Olid. Francisco Pizarro sails from Panamá for Peru.

1524-30 Cakchiquel revolt against Spaniards.

1525 Cortés marches across Petén to Honduras, successfully securing Honduras against Hernández de Córdoba. Juan López de Aguirre establishes Trujillo, Honduras, on orders from Francisco de las Casas. Alvarado conquers Pipil and establishes San Salvador at Cuscatlán. Carlos I grants Honduras to Diego López de Salcedo, who takes command in Trujillo October 27, 1526; Cortés' governor, Alvaro de Saavedra Cerón, does not contest.

1526 Pedrarias executes Hernández de Córdoba in Nicaragua and extends his control into Honduras. Pedro de los Ríos replaces Pedrarias as governor of Castilla del Oro. Pedro Portocarrero continues pacification of Guatamala as Alvarado returns to Spain.

1527 Captaincies General established in Guatemala and Nicaragua under respective commands of Alvarado and Pedrarias. Jorge de Alvarado lays out new site for Santiago de Guatemala (Ciudad Vieja).

1528 Pedrarias proposes interoceanic route across Nicaragua as rival to Panamanian route. Martín Estete and Gabriel de Rojas explore Pacific coast to El Salvador, claiming it for Pedrarias. Jorge de Alvarado marches to region and reasserts Guatemalan authority. San Salvador reestablishes Concepción Convent in Granada.

1530 Pedro de Alvarado begins shipbuilding on Pacific coast. Luis de Moscoso establishes San Miguel, El Salvador.

1531 Diocese of Nicaragua established. Pedrarias dies in Léon. Poor government and disorder characterize successive Nicaraguan governments. Mob under leadership of Diego Méndez assassinates Lt. Governor of Trujillo, Vasco de Herrera; misrule and anarchy characterize subsequent years.

1534 Diocese of Guatemala established. Alvarado establishes Realejo, Nicaragua, and sails for Peru, returning the following year. Pedro de Andagoya reports that construction of a waterway through Panama is not feasible.

1535 Bartolomé de las Casas arrives in Nicaragua and establishes Dominican Convent. Audiencia established at Panama. Cristóbal de la Cueva opens communications between Guatemala and Honduran Caribbean coast. Deteriorating conditions in Honduras lead to Alvarado taking over jurisdiction there.

1536 Chiapas transferred from Diocese of Tlaxcala to Guatemala. Bartolomé de las Casas precipitates major Church-State conflict in Nicaragua over Indian treatment; he finally leaves, taking Dominican friars to Guatemala.

1536-39 Alvarado reaches agreement in 1536 with Francisco do Montejo: Alvarado to have jurisdiction in Honduras, Montejo in Yucatán. Alvarado establishes Puerto do Caballos in Honduras, but in 1537 Montejo receives royal appointment as Governor of Honduras; a subsequent agreement (1539) endorsed by the Crown restores Honduras to Alvarado.

1537-38 French corsairs begin to attack Central American settlements on Caribbean.

1538 Diocese of Chiapas authorized, but not effected until 1545.

1538-43 Panama is seat of authority for Spanish territory from Nicaragua southward throughout Spanish South America.

1539 Diocese of Honduras established at Trujillo. Bishop of Pananma, Tomás de Berlarga, fails in attempt to colonize Costa Rica. Alonson Calero sails along coast from Nombre de Dios to Honduras.

1540 Alonso de Cáceres establishes Comayagua, Honduras. Diego Gutiérrez expedition to Costa Rica ends in failure. Alvarado leaves Guatemala for northern Mexico, taking troublesome Indian chiefs into exile with him.

1541 Cabildo of Santiago de Guatemala, upon learning of Alvarado's death (June 29, 1541), gives authority to his widow, Beatriz de la Cueva, on September 9; two days later she is killed and the city destroyed by earthquake and flood; survivors name her brother, Francisco de la Cueva, as Governor.

1542 Santiago de Guatemala (Antigua) reestablished in Panchoy Valley. Francisco Marroquín, first Bishop of Guatemala, plays major role in early development of Santiago (1535-63).

1543 New Laws resisted in Central America, but gradually enforced, causing modification of labor system. Audiencia de los Confines ordered established, with jurisdiction over region from Tabasco, Yucatán, and Chiapas southward through Panama; it is installed in 1544 with administrative seat at Gracias, Honduras.

1543-47 Baltolomé de las Casas attempts pacific conquest of the Verapaz.

1545 San Salvador moved to its present site in the Valley of las Hamacas.

1549 Audiencia de los Confines moved from Gracias to Santiago de Guatemala.

1550 Panama separated from jurisdiction of Audiencia de los Confines. Contreras brothers in Nicaragua and Panama revolt in an effort to regain the control their father had held in Nicaragua; Pedro de la Gasca comes from Peru to suppress the revolt, but family feuds and disorders continue to make Nicaraguan development violent in the sixteenth century.

1556 Carlos I abdicates, leaving Spanish crown to his son, Felipe II.

1557 Descendants of Columbus surrender all claims to rights on Central American territory in return for title and pension.

1558 Accession of Elizabeth I of England begins period of active English privateering against Spanish shipping in the Caribbean.

1560 Tabasco and Yucatán removed from jurisdiction of Audiencia de los Confines.

1561 Juan de Cavallón leads first successful colonizers into Costa Rica.

1562-65 Juan Vázquez de Coronado continues conquest of Costa Rica and establishes Cartago.

1563 Audiencia de los Confines ordered moved to Panamá; Central American territory divided between Panama and New Spain, with a Captain General to remain in Guatemala.

1567 Audiencia of Guatemala ordered reestablished; it is installed in 1570, with jurisdiction over territory from Chiapas through Costa Rica.

1578 Silver discoveries result in growth of Tegucigalpa and its separation from Comayagua's administrative authority until 1788.

1582 Jesuits arrive in Kingdom of Guatemala.

1587 England's Elizabeth I challenges Spain's claim to unconquered lands of the Western Hemisphere.

1588 Defeat of the Spanish Armada begins decline of Spanish naval strength and increase of foreign maritime activity in the Caribbean.

1598 Felipe III becomes King of Spain.

1601 Road opened between Cartago and Chiriquí stimulates mule raising.

1605 Puerto Santo Tomás Castilla established on north coast of Guatemala after freebooter attack on Puerto de Caballos; Guatemalan Caribbean port relocated at several sites on Amatique Bay and Golfo Dulce during colonial period.

1610 Léon, Nicaragua, moves to new site to escape further earthquake and volcanic damage.

1621 Felipe IV becomes King of Spain.

1622 Costa Rican request for union with Panama denied.

1630 English Puritans establish colony on Providence Island; English logcutters begin to operate on eastern coast of Central America soon thereafter.

1635 San Vicente, El Salvador, established as center for indigo trade.

1638 British logcutters and buccaneers operating in Belize from about this date. Settlement develops gradually.

1642 British take Roatán Island.

1643 Dutch sack Trujillo and Spanish abandon that port until 1789.

1655 British take Jamaica, providing a base for contraband trade with isthmus.

1660 José de Pineda Ibarra establishes first printing press in Central America. Freebooters burn Puerto Caballos, then march inland and take San Pedro Sula.

1662 Dutch settlement is developing at Bluefields, Nicaragua.

1665 English buccaneers burn Granada; Realejo also sacked. Buccaneers under Morgan and Mansfield march island in Costa Rica, but fail to reach highlands. Carlos II becomes King of Spain.

1651-67 Exemplary work of Friar Pedro de San José de Betancur in Guatemala results in establishment of Bethlehemite Order.

1670-90 Buccaneers make many forays into interior of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. British recognize Spanish sovereignty in Belize, but English logcutters and buccaneers continue to develop settlement.

1671 Panama City moved to new site after destruction by Henry Morgan.

1676 University authorized in Guatemala, but not officially opened as the University of San Carlos until 1681.

1697 Popular uprising in Guatemala put down with force; results in organization of new urban guard. Tayasal, last Maya stronghold, captured by Spanish force from Yucatán under command of Martín de Ursúa y Arizmendi.

1698-99 William Paterson sets up unsuccessful Scottish colony at Darién.

1699 Joint Guatemalan-Yucatecan expedition against Lacandones fails.

1700 Accession to the Spanish throne of the Bourbon Felipe V, setting off War of the Spanish Succession (1702-14).

1705 Ministerial system inaugurated in Spanish government.

1706-1716 Toribio de Cosío y Campa is progressive Captain General of Guatemala.

1712-13 Tzendale Indian rebellion in Chiapas suppressed.

1714 Honduras Company founded, but fails to profit.

1729-31 Gazeta de Goathemala, first Central American newspaper, published.

1731 Royal mint authorized for Kingdom of Guatemala; first coins minted in 1733.

1733 British driven from Belize by Governor of Yucatán, Antonio de Figueroa y Silva, but they soon return.

1736 San José de Costa Rica established.

1739 War of Jenkins' Ear brings new attacks to Central American coasts; Captain Edward Vernon seizes and destroys Portobelo.

1745 By decree of 1742 Archdiocese of Guatemala established, with jurisdiction over entire Kingdom, making ecclesiastical jurisdiction conform to political boundaries.

1746 Fernando VI becomes King of Spain.

1747 Mosquito Indians, operating under orders of Governor of Jamaica, drive Spanish from Matina Valley, Costa Rica.

1748 Guatemala Company formed, but fails to profit.

1751 Temple dedicated to the "Black Christ" built at Esquipulas, Guatemala. Audiencia of Panamá terminated.

1752 Liquor monopoly established in Kingdom of Guatemala.

1754 Large Spanish expedition from the Petén fails to capture Belize.

1755 British build fort at Belize.

1756 Riot in Santiago de Guatemala against prohibition of certain liquors. Mosquito Indians, supported by British, kill Costa Rican Governor in Matina Valley fighting.

1759 Carlos III becomes King of Spain, inaugurates most important of Bourbon Reforms.

1763 Treaty of Paris. British agree to demolish their fortifications around the Bay of Honduras, but are allowed to continue cutting wood there. Soon after, Sir William Burnaby writes a Code of Laws; it provides a framework of government and justice for the Belize settlers for many years.

1766 British Free Trade Act facilitates illicit Central American trade with British West Indies. Uprising in Guatemala against establishment of the tobacco monopoly and rising taxation stemming from Spanish expenditures in Seven Years' War (1756-63).

1767 Jesuits expelled.

1774 Intercolonial trade between Guatemala, Peru, New Spain, and New Granada is permitted.

1776 As a result of earthquakes of 1773, Santiago de Guatemala moved to its present site in Valley de la Hermita.

1778 Spanish Free Trade Act opens Kingdom of Guatemala to wider commerce.

1779-83 Spain declares war on England in 1799. Spanish drive the British from Belize. British capture Omoa, and British-supported Mosquito Indians retake Matina, where they exact tribute from residents there until 1841, but British invasion of Nicaragua fails. Captain General Matías de Gálvez retakes Omoa and develops expanded defense, production, commerce, and public works in the Kingdom.

1780 Serious smallpox epidemic in Guatemala City. Vaccination employed for first time in Central America; it succeeds in stemming epidemic.

1783 Peace of Paris ends American Revolution. British agree to evacuate Mosquito Coast and recognize Spanish sovereignty all along Central American coast, but Spanish recognize right of British subjects to cut wood at Belize; a new treaty in 1786 confirms this agreement.

1786 Intendants appointed for Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Chiapas.

1788 Comayagua and Tegucigalpa consolidated into single administrative unit under intendancy system until 1812. Carlos IV becomes King of Spain.

1789 French Revolution begins; Spanish involvement in wars that result leads to expanded foreign trade for Kingdom of Guatemala.

1793 Spain allies with Britian against French Republic, Central America permitted to receive Philippine goods directly through Realejo and Acajutla. New Gazeta de Guatemala begins publication.

1796 Spain joins in alliance with France, resulting in renewed British attacks on Central America. British reoccupy Bay Islands, bring in "Black Caribs" from St. Vincent Island. Spanish establish San Juan del Norte.

1797 Neutrals permitted to trade with Central America; United States trade is especially favored, but British ships sometimes pose as North American. Permission revoked in 1799, but traders continue to come.

1800 Royal Order of 1799 suppresses Guatemalan Sociedad Económica; it is restored in 1811.

1801-11 Captain General Antonio González Mollinedo y Saravia faces severe economic cries in Central America; major increases made in royal requests for funds to pay for war. Inflation, crop failures, and interdicition of trade place great economic stress on colony.

1803 Carlos IV orders that San Andrés Island and Mosquito Coast as far north as Cape Gracias a Dios belong to Viceroyalty of New Granada.

1804 War resumes between Spain and England. Mosquito Indians get military aid from British. Privateering increases along Caribbean coast.

1808 Carlos IV abdicates; Joseph Bonaparte placed on Spanish throne. Guatemalan government declares its allegiance to Fernando VII, rejecting Napoleonic rule. Simón Bergaño y Villegas, editor of the Gazeta de Guatemala (1802-7), deported at behest of Archbishop.

1809 Ayuntamiento of Guatemala expresses grievances to the Spanish Supreme Central Junta.

1811 News of Hidalgo revolt in Mexico alarms authorities in Guatemala. José M. Delgado leads independence uprising in San Savador; José de Aycinena, appointed as Intendant, restores peace. Abortive independence attempt in Nicaragua is also crushed by a royalist force from Guatemala.

1811-18 Captain General José de Bustamante y Guerra imposes strong rule.

1812 Cortes of Cádiz establishes Constitutional Monarchy and inaugurates liberal regime. Central American signers of the 1812 Constitution included Manuel de Llano (Chiapas), Antonio Larazábal (Guatemala), José Avila (El Salvador), José F. Monejón (Honduras), José A. López de la Plata (Nicaragua), and Florencio Castillo (Costa Rica); Cortes appoints José de Aycinena to a Council of State. University at León established; revolt against Spanish rule fails in Tegucigalpa, but Tegucigalpa wins administrative separation from Comayagua. Election of ayuntamientos in Central America results in emergence of political factions.

1813 Diputaciones provinciales decreed for Guatemala and Léon; later, one is also established at Ciudad Real. Belén conspiracy in Guatemala exposed.

1814 Fernando VII restored to Spanish throne; he annuls Constitution of 1812 and all acts of juntas in Spain and America; old ayuntamientos restored. Revolt in El Salvador led by Manuel José de Arce fails.

1815 Indians in San Juan Ostuncalco rebel against Alcalde, who attempted to stop pagan religious practices.

1816 Mosquito King, George Fredrick II, crowned at Belize, reestablishing British protectorate over Mosquito Coast.

1817 Inquisition reestablished in Guatemala.

1818-21 Carlos Urrutia y Montoya is last Spanish Captain General of Central America.

1819 Gregor MacGregor temporarily takes and holds Portobelo.

1820 Riego revolt in Spain restores Constitution of 1812. Pedro Molina begins publication of El Editor Constitucional; José Cecillo del Valle responds with El Amigo de la Patria.

1821 Sub-Inspector Gabino Gáinza assumes power from ailing Urrutia. Guatemala and provincial governments declare independence from Spain, but differ on subsequent course of action. Independent states begin to gain in authority at expense of Guatemala, as federalism becomes major political issue. Panama declares independence from Spain, becomes part of Gran Colombia.

1822 Central America annexes itself to Mexican Empire. Vicente Filísola is new Captain General, as Agustín Iturbide becomes Emperor. Kingdom of Guatemala divided into three comandancias, with capitals at Ciudad Real, Guatemala, and León. San Salvador opposes annexation to Mexico.

1823 Filísola conquers El Salvador and incorporates it into Mexican Emipire; fighting breaks out in Nicaragua and Costa Rica over annexation issue. Iturbide overthrown in Mexico. Central America declares absolute independence (July 1) and forms the United Provinces of Central America. A provisional junta, composed of Pedro Molina, Antonio Rivera Cabeza and Juan Vincente Villacorta, organizes new government and inaugurates republican reforms. Chiapas remains with Mexico. Military uprising in Guatemala, led by Captain Rafael Ariza y Torres, suppressed (September 13-14); pro-Spanish revolt led by José María Martínez Wallop crushed a week later.

1824 Republican constitution ratified by all five states.

1824-33 Juan Mora Fernández's administration in Costa Rica gives that state a stability not enjoyed by others in early independent period.

1825 J.M. Delgado inaugurated as Bishop of El Salvador in opposition to Archbishop of Guatemala. Manuel J. Arce elected President of Central America by federal congress. Costa Rican diocese separate from Nicaragua's established. Treaty of Friendship and Commerce signed between United States and Central America; ratified 1826.

1826 Britain acquires Mexican claim to Belize. Congress of Panamá.

1826-29 Arce deposes Liberal state government of Guatemala and joins with Conservatives in reorganizing federal government, touching off bloody three-year civil war between Liberals and Conservatives. Mob in Quezaltenango assassinates Liberal Lt. Governor of Guatemala; Mariano de Aycinena becomes new Guatemalan Governor (1827-29). Francisco Morazán leads Liberals to victory by 1829.

1829-38 Liberals in control, vindictive toward Conservatives, embark upon radical anticlerical and liberal economic and political program; serious conflicts between state and federal authority throughout region. Costa Rica secedes (August 1829 to May 1830).

1830 Dionisio Herrera becomes Chief of State of Nicaragua and succeeds in bringing about some order after a decade of strife.

1829-30 Growing Spanish threat; in 1832 pro-Spanish insurgents take and hold Omoa until dislodged by Central American troops.

1830-31 Panama is twice briefly independent from Gran Colombia.

1831-38 Mariano Gálvez, Chief of State of Guatemala, launches boldest Liberal and anticlerical policies until overthrown by Rafael Carrera.

1832 University of San Carlos suppressed in favor of lyceums and academies.

1833 Noticioso Universal, Costa Rica's first newspaper, begins publication at Alajuela.

1834 Federal capital moved from Guatemala to San Salvador, which becomes a Federal District in 1835. José Cecilio del Valle elected President of Central America, but dies before votes are counted; Morazán then reelected.

1835 Braulio Carrillo establishes Conservative dictatorship in Costa Rica and makes San José as capital; rules 1835-37 and 1838-42.

1837-40 Cholera epidemic strikes Central America. Peasant revolts, beginning at San Juan Ostuncalco, spread throughout Guatemala, leading to general uprising. War of the Montaña brings Rafael Carrera to power in Guatemala as Gálvez government collapses when Liberal quarrel among themselves. Federal Vice President José G. Salazar killed by Carrera's troops. Los Altos departments secede from Guatemala and establish a new state under the leadership of Marcelo Molina, in alliance with Morazán. Central American Congress allows states to go their separate ways; Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica secede in 1838.

1839-42 Liberal program dismantled in Guatemala; Hispanic institutions restored.

1839-43 British seize Bay Islands and San Juan del Norte.

1839-47 Carrera's Conservative ally, Francisco Ferrera, dominates Honduras.

1839-65 Carrera dominates Guatemala and much of the rest of Central America. Conservative caudillos and a strong clergy characterize the period.

1840 Carrera defeats Morazán, forcing him to go into exile in David, Panama; Carrera restores Guatemalan rule in Los Altos. Honduran Liberals defeated at El Potrero, near Tegucigalpa. Mexican troops occupy Soconusco.

1840-46 Carrera establishes Conservative Francisco Malespín in El Salvador; Malespín rules until assassinated (1846).

1840-41 Panama secedes from New Granada under rights granted in 1831 Constitution, remains independent for nearly two years.

1841 Braulio Carrillo establishes himself as lifetime dictator of Costa Rica.

1842 Morazán ousts Carrillo in San José and tries to reestablish Central American union, but it soon overturned; Morazán executed (September 15). Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua agree to union at Chinandega, but failed establish it successfully. Anti-Liberal alliance of Central American states is signed in Guatemala. British blockade coast.

1840-45 Religious orders reestablished in Central America.

1843 British government formally accepts Mosquito Coast protectorate. Guatemala contests Mexican occupation of Soconusco.

1845-51 Conservative Trinidad Muñoz maintains shaky control of Nicaragua.

1846 Bidlack-Mallarino Treaty between United States and New Granada guarantees U.S. rights over Panama transit route; Ratified 1848.

1847 Guatemala declares itself a "Republic," it is first in Central America to change name from "State." Other four states eventually take similar action. Hise-Selva Treaty signed between United States and Nicaragua provides for U.S. rights in Nicaragua. (Although never ratified, it reflected growing North American interest and involvement on the isthmus and resulted from Nicaraguan attempts to solicit U.S. aid against Britain; it was significant in bringing about Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of 1850.)

1847-52 Juan N. Lindo Zelaya's Conservative administration in Honduras provides order and, uniquely, allows a Liberal to take office peacefully in 1852.

1847-53 Caste War in Yucatán.

1848 Carrera resigns in face of poular uprising and secession of Los Altos.

1848-50 British occupy San Juan del Norte, renaming it Greytown.

1849 Carrera returns to power in Guatemala as armed forces chief, but Mariano Paredes remains as President until 1851. Nicaragua makes concession to Cornelius Vanderbilt and associates for isthmian route; Vanderbilt develops profitable route by 1854. British seize Tigre Island in Gulf of Fonseca; Nicaragua and Honduras cede their claims on island to United States in effort to check British. Guatemala and Costa Rica sign Treaties of Friendship and Commerce with Great Britain.

1849-59 After seven years of disorder, Juan Rafael Mora Porras brings orderly, Conservative government to Costa Rica.

1850 Clayton-Bulwer Treaty between United States and Great Britain signed.

1851 Carrera defeats Liberal unionists at San José la Arada, ending serious Liberal threat to Guatemala for nearly two decades.

1850-55 Panama Railway constructed, resulting in sharp transfer of Central American commerce from Caribbean to Pacific ports.

1852 Compromise begins between León and Granada, eventually leading to Managua becoming Nicaraguan capital.

1854 Carrera is made Perpetual President of Guatemala, and holds office until death (1865). U.S. Navy bombards Greytown, Nicaragua (San Juan del Norte).

1855 Río San Juan changes course and destroys Greytown; William Walker and associates arrive in Nicaragua to assist Liberals; Walker gains control of the army, becoming President in 1856.

1855-56 Carrera restores Conservative rule in Honduras, replacing Trinidad Cabañas with Santos Guardiola, who dominated Honduras until his assassination (1862).

1856-57 Mora leads Central America resistance (National War) against Walker. Walker surrenders on May 1, 1857; Walker's attempt to launch second invasion of Nicaragua thwarted by U.S. officials. Subsequent attempts in 1858 and 1859 also foiled by U.S. agents.

1857-93 Conservative dominate Nicaragua.

1858 Nicaragua grants canal concession to Felix Belly and Paris associates.

1859 Guatemala agrees to recognize British sovereignty in Belize in return for construction of a road from Guatemala City to the Caribbean coast; British agree to turn over Bay Island to Honduras. Gerardo Barrios, first of the "New Liberal" rulers of Central America, becomes President of El Salvador.

1859-68 Montealegre family dominates Costa Rica.

1860 William Walker captured and executed near Trujillo; Mosquito Indian reservation (7000 sq. miles) designated by treaty with Nicaraguan government. By Treaty of Managua, Britain relinquishes all claims to Nicaraguan east coast.

1862 Belize Settlement becomes Colony of British Honduras.

1863 Carrera invades El Salvador and replaces Gernado Barrios with Conservative Francisco Dueñas. United States claims Swan Islands.

1865 Carrera dies; his designee, General Vicente Cerna, continues Conservative rule in Guatemala to 1871.

1867 General Serapio Cruz declares against Cera, beginning Liberal Revolution. It succeeds in 1871.

1870 British Honduran legislature abolishes itself.

1870-82 Tomás Buardia, New Liberal dictator of Costa Rica, breaks power of old, landholding, Conservative families.

1870-1900 Strong Positivist influence evident in Central American governments and constitutions; most governments are dedicated to material progress: they encourage railroad construction, foreign investment, and port development, and they are anticlerical.

1871 Liberal Revolution in El Salvador replaces Dueñas with Santiago Bonzález; Miquel García Granados and Justo Rufino Barrios lead revolt in Guatemala, breaking Conservative dictatorship.

1873 J. R. Barrios becomes dictator of Guatemala, aids Liberals in Honnduras. British bombard Omoa to protect British commercial interests.

1876 Barrios intervenes in Honduras and places Marco Aurelio Soto in power.

1878 French company acquires rights to dig canal through Panama.

1880 Tegucigalpa established as Honduras capital.

1883 Differences with Barrios lead to resignation of Soto in Honduras; another Barrios protégé, Luis Bográn Baraona, contiues the Liberal domination to 1891.

1885 Barrios killed at Chalchuapa, El Salvador, ending his ambitions of reestablishing the Central American union by military power.

1885-90 Bernardo Soto continues Liberal trends in Costa Rica.

1889 Conservative José Joaquín Rodríguez (Constitutional Democrat) defeats Ascensión Esquivel (Progressive Liberal), and Liberals allow him to take office. Since election of 1889 Costa Rica has generally had free popular political participation. Maritime Canal Company incorporated in U.S. to build Nicaragua Canal; extensive surveys follow. French Panama Canal Company goes bankrupt.

1890-1902 Conservatives (José Joaquín and Rafael Iglesias) dominate Costa Rica. Iglesias intrigues against Nicaraguan government of José Santos Zelaya.

1893-1909 José Santos Zelaya is Liberal dictator in Nicaragua.

1894 Last British intervention on Mosquito Coast; Mosquito Coast fully incorporated into Nicaragua.

1895 British blockade Corinto; U.S. mediation brings settlement.

1895-99 Major steps taken toward formation of Republic of Central America behind leadership of Salvador Mendieta, but projects fail in 1899; Mendieta organizes Central American Unionist Party.

1898 President José M. Reyna Barrios assassinated inGuatemala.

1898-1920 Manuel Estrada Carera's iron-fisted dictatorship in Guatemala is longest uninterrupted one-man rule in Central American history.

1899 United Fruit Company formed.

1899-1903 "Thousand Days War" in Colombia brings violence to Panama.

1901 Walker Commission recommends building canal in Nicaragua; second Hay-Pauncefote Treaty abrogates Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, leaving U.S. free to develop canal routeunilaterally.

1903 Panama declares independence from Colombia; U.S. quickly recognizes Panama and negotiates favorable canal treaty.

1906 Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras sign Corinto Convention, agreeing to submit disputes to a Central American arbitration tribunal. U.S. and Mexico mediate war between Guatemala and El Salvador, leading to Marblehead Pact, San José Conference, and Central American cooperative peace-keeping machinery. Britain finally relinquishes all claims or interest in Mosquito Coast.

1907 Zelaya attempts to impose union on Central America by interfering in political affairs of Honduras and El Salvador; this leads to new U.S. and Mexican peace initiative. Washington Conference results in establishment of Central America Court of Justice.

1907-1931 Meléndez family dominates El Salvador.

1909 Overthrow of Zelaya is followed by instability in Nicaragua, which prompts U.S. financial and military intervention (1912-33).

1914 Panama Canal opened.

1916 Bryan-Chamorro Treaty between U.S. and Nicaragua leads to collapse of Central American Court of Justice.

1917 Federico Tinoco Granados seizes power in Costa Rica by a coup, but cannot get recognition of United States or other nations; he resigns in 1919. Attempted Central American union of all five states, on Honduran initiative, fails when Nicaragua refuses to cooperate.

1921 Overthrow by military of Guatemalan "Unionist" government ends tripartite republic initiative of Guatemla, El Salvador, and Honduras; Socialist Labor Unification (Guatemala) affiliates with Communist Party of Mexico.

1923 Washington Conference results in new Central American treaties, but fails to promote union. Violence breaks out in Honduras when Tiburcio Carías Andino wins plurality in presidential election but Congress denies him office; U.S. mediation results in new election without Carías as a candidate, but his National Party's candidate, Miguel Paz Baraona, wins.

1924-36 Costa Rica dominated by Conservatives Ricardo Jiménez Oreamuno and Cleto González Víquez.

1925 Regional Workers Federation (FRO) meets violent repression in El Salvador.

1927 Tipitapa Agreements provide basis for U.S. occupation of Nicaragua and subsequent election.

1927-34 Augusto César Sandino leads Nicaraguan guerrillas against U.S. occupation.

1931-44 Jorge Ubico and Maximiliano Hernández Martínez establish strong dictatorship in Guatemala and El Salvador, respectively.

1932 Peasant uprising in El Salvador suppressed with great bloodshed.

1932-48 Tiburcio Carías Andino is dictator of Honduras.

1933 Guatemalan-Honduran border dispute in Río Motagua Valley settled, largely in Guatemala's favor, by special arbitration tribunal.

1934 Sandino executed in Managua by members of Nicaraguan National Guard; Guard chief Anastasio Somoza dominates country until 1956.

1936 Reformist National Republican Party (PRN) wins in Costa Rica with León Cortés Castro as President. U.S.-Panama Canal treaty renegotiated. U.S. gives up protectorate powers over Panama and agrees to nonintervention.

1940 Rafael Angel Calderón Guardia (PRN) wins in Costa Rican election; more radical group dominates Costa Rica to 1948; León Cortés Castro leaves PRN to from more conservative Democratic Party.

1944 Hernández Martínez and Ubico resign in face of increased violence and protests.

1945 New Constitution embodies principles of Guatemalan Revolution.

1945-50 Juan José Arévalo heads reformist administration in Guatemala.

1948 Otilio Ulate wish Costa Rican presidental election, but Calderón Guardia and PRN attempt to retain power. José Figueres leads Army of National Liberation successfully against government, beginning period of dominance for Figueres in Costa Rican politics.

1949 Francisco J. Arana assassinated in Guatemala, and revolt of Guardia de Honor follows. It is the most serious of twenty-two military coups attempted against Arévalo.

1950 Costa Rica abolishes army.

1950-54 Jacobo Arbenz elected President of Guatemala; during his administration revolutionary reforms are intensified and there is increased Communist infiltration of the government.

1950-60 Revolutionary Party of Democratic Union (PRUD) dominates El Salvador under leadership of Major Oscar Osorio.

1951 Meeting of foreign ministers lays groundwork for formation of the Organization of Central American States (ODECA).

1952 Guatemalan Labor Party (PGT) organized from dissolved Communist Pary (PCG) and Revolutionary Workers' Party (PROG). Guatemala agrarian reform law goes into effect.

1953-58 Figueres administration in Costa Rica brings modest social and economic reform, but fails to improve Costa Rican standard of living significantly.

1954 Organization of American States "Declaration of Solidarity" against intervention of International Communism is directed against Arbenz government; after east European arms arrive in Guatemala, Carlos Castillo Armas overthrows Arbenz with aid of Honduras, Nicaragua, and U.S. Castillo Armas becomes chief of state and restores Conservative rule. George Price's leftist Peoples United Party (PUP) wins election in Belize and provides more progressive leadership and movement toward independence. Ramón Villeda Morales wins substantial plurality, but is denied presidency of Honduras as Julio Lozano Díaz seizes power.

1956 Anastasio Somoza assassinated in León. His sons, Luis and Anastasio, continue family domination of Nicaragua until 1979.

1957 Castillo Armas assassinated; period of instability and violence begins in Guatemala.

1957-63 After overthrow of a military regime which had relieved the ailing Lozano in 1956, Villeda Morales wins a free election and provides more progressive government in Honduras.

1958 Common market plan developed and treaty signed.

1958-63 Following period of instability, Conservative Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes elected President of Guatemala.

1959-60 Border skirmishes between Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

1960 José María Lemus and PRUD overthrown in El Salvador by civilian-military group with slightly leftist tendencies under junta headed by Colonel César Yanes Urías. Leftist revolt suppressed in Guatemala, but survivors from MR-13 guerilla movement under leadership of Lt. Marco Aurelio Yon Sosa and Luis A. Turcios Lima; guerrilla fighting continues throughout the decade. After three years of skirmishing, Nicaragua-Honduras border is settled by International Court of Justice.

1961 Guatemalan and Nicaraguan governments support launching of Bay of Pigs invasion against Cuba. Hurricane Hattie wrecks Belize City, leading to decision to build Belmopan, fifty miles inland.

1961-67 Rightist military coup in El Salvador ousts Yanes Urías. Lt. Col. Julio A. Rivera, head of Party of National Conciliation (PCN), dominates state through 1967.

1963 Guatemala military, led by Minister of Defense Enrique Peralta Azurdia, ousts Ydígoras and pursues hard line against leftists. Ubico's remains returned from Louisiana to Guatemala for state funeral and internment. Guatemala breaks diplomatic relations with Great Britain over question of sovereignty in Belize. Central American Defense Council (CONDECA) established by Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras with strong U.S. support.

1963-71 Honduras military removes Villeda Morales and returns government control to Conservatives. Col. Osvaldo López Arellano establishes mild military dictatorship (1965-71).

1964 British Honduras gains limited self-rule, with steps toward absolute independence. Panamanian riots against U.S. sovereignty bring new negotiations on canal question.

1966 Hernández Martínez murdered on his Honduras estate in labor dispute.

1967 Heart attack kills Luis Somoza, leaving Anastasio ("Tachito") Somoza in control of Nicaragua.

1967-72 PCN continues military rule in El Salvador under Col. Fidel Sánchez Hernández.

1969 Brief war between Honduras and El Salvador stems from demographic problems and border dispute; common marked damaged.

1970 José Figueres returns to presidency of Costa Rica.

1971 Pressing economic problems aggravated by war with El Salvador result in a national unity coalition of Conservative and Liberal parties in Honduras; Dr. Ramón Ernesto Cruz elected president.

1972 PCN maintains power in El Salvador against strong challenge of Christian Democrat José Napoleon Duarte. Earthquake devastates Managua, leading to tightening of Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua. López Arellano takes over as president of Honduras again (December).

1973 British Honduras' name formally changed to Belize.

1974 Daniel Oduber wins Costa Rican presidency, continuing Figueres's PLN in power. General Kjell Langerud García wins Guatemalan presidency. Tachito Somoza wins another term as Nicaraguan president. Hurricane Fifi wreaks havoc on Honduran north coast.

1975 Col. Juan Alberto Melgar Castro leads coup in April which overthrows López Arellano in Honduras. Peasant uprising suppressed in July. Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP) launches guerilla activity in northern Quiché Department, Guatemala.

1976 Earthquake causes massive damage to central Guatemala and western Honduras; less serious damage in El Salvador. PCN sweeps Salvadoran congressional and municipal elections, as most of opposition refuses to participate; leftist guerrilla activity grows in El Salvador, led by People's Revolutionary Army (ERP). New disclosures of bribes offered by United Brands to Honduran officials in addition to 1974 U.S. $1.25 million payment. FSLN founder, Carlos Fonseca Amador, killed in clashes with Nicaraguan Guardia Nacional. Panamanian strong-man Omar Torrijos visits Cuba for talks with Fidel Castro, putting pressure on U.S. regarding Panama Canal.

1977 Guatemala rejects U.S. military aid when Jimmy Carter links it to greater human rights observance. U.N. General Assembly adopts resolution favoring independence for Belize by vote of 126-4, with 13 abstentions. Nicaraguan church hierarchy criticizes government for abuses of human rights, charging the Guardia Nacional with a "reign of terror"; Sandinistas step up attacks. General Carlos Humberto Romero wins Salvadoran presidential election, denounced as fraudulent by opposition; Archbishop Oscar Romero boycotts President Romero's inauguration. U.S. and Panama sign Panama Canal treaties, ratified by Panamanian plebiscite on October 23.

1978 Assassination of January 10 of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, editor of La Prensa, sparks general uprising against Somoza dynasty; FSLN forms mass organization to mobilize population against Somoza; Edén Pastora (Comandante Zero) captures the National Palace on August 22; Costa Rica breaks relations with Somoza government; guerrillas launch coordinated offensive in September, combined with general strike; General Fernando Romeo Lucas García becomes President of Guatemala in controlled election, pursues repressive, anticommunist policies; civilians dominate Lucas's cabinet (9 civilians, 3 military); rejuvenated Rebel Armed Forces (FAR) renew guerrilla activities. Bloodless coup in Honduras replaces President Melgar with junta headed by Gen. Policarpo Paz García. PCN wins legislative assembly and municipal elections in El Salvador with negligible opposition; PDC refused to name candidates in opposition because they believed elections would not be fairly conducted. U.S. ratifies Panama Canal treaties and Panama accepts modifications mad by U.S. Senate; Minister of Education Aristedes Royo succeeds Omar Torrijos as President of Panama, but Torrijos remains head of National Guard. Rodrigo Carazo Odio of Unity Coalition wins Costa Rican presidency; case of Robert Vesco continues to smolder in Costa Rica, as Vesco is denied Costa Rican citizenship and forbidden to return to Costa Rica.

1979 Full-scale Sandinista offensive begins on May 29 with invasion from Costa Rica; U.S. newsman Bill Stewart (ABC-TV) killed by National Guard forces on camera, causing increased hostility toward Somoza government in U.S.; general strike begins in June, closing 80 percent of Nicaraguan businesses; Somoza resigns on July 17 and flees to Paraguay, where Argentine 1eftists assassinate him on Sept. 17, 1980. Somoza's successor, Frncisco Urcuyo Malianos, flees to Guatemala on July 18; Sandinistas seize government on July 19, with Sandinista-controlled junta installed the next day (Daniel Ortega Saavedra, Alfonso Robelo Callejas, Sergio Ramírez, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, and Moisés Hassan Morales). Reformist officers headed by Colonels Adolfo Majano and Jaime Abdul Gutiérrez overthrow Romero government in El Salvador (October 15). Unrest in Honduras causes cancellation of elections scheduled for April 1980; labor strife especially noticeable, sometimes violent, both urban and agricultural. Transfer of Panama Canal Zone from U.S. to Panama (October 1).

1980 Civilian progressives, Guillermo Ungo and Román Mayorga, resign from Salvadoran junta in January; Archbishop Romero, after writing an open letter to Jimmy Carter asking the U.S. not to send arms to the Salvadoran government, is assassinated on March 24; Democratic Revolutionary Front (FDR) formed by the three principal leftist political organizations and their military wings; Jose N. Durate is named to the junta in March and replaces Colonel Majano as its president on December 22, but without command of the army; Duarte launches agrarian reform; El Salvador and Honduras agree to a peace treaty formally ending the 1969 "soccer war," although details regarding the border remain in dispute. Sandinistas move Nicaragua toward the left with government institutions subservient to FSLN Directorate; U.S. indicates for first time in late 1980 that it believes Sandinistas are assisting Salvadoran guerillas. Liberals win 52 percent of votes in election for Honduran Assembly, but fail to gain majority of seats; illegal leftist parties fail in bid to encourage large-scale absenteeism. Rapid inflation and economic problems in Costa Rica lead to labor unrest. Continued political polarization in Guatemala with widespread violence, as Vice-President Francisco Villagrán Dramer resigns in opposition to right-wing violation of human rights.

1981 U.S. resumes military sales to Guatemala, sends 55 military advisers to El Salvador, suspends economic assistance programs to Nicaragua, and begins CIA support of counterrevolutionaries (FDN); Secretary of State Alexander Haig attacks "large-scale shipment of Soviet military supplies" and cites rapid growth of Nicaragua armed forces, charging that Nicaragua and Cuba are supplying arms to the Salvadoran guerrillas. Sandinistas consolidate position in Nicaragua, as junta is reduced to three members. Belize gains independence (September 21) within British Commonwealth; British security force stays on to protect it from Guatemala. Liberals win Honduran elections, Dr. Roberto Suazo Córdova receiving about 54 percent of votes and an absolute majority in the Assembly. General Torrijos dies in small plane crash, which is followed by political turmoil; Torrijos's security chief, Manuel Antonio Noriega, eventually emerges as Commander of the Defense Force (formerly National Guard) and Panama's new strong man.

1982 Costa Ricans elect Luis Alberto Monge as President in a clear victory for PLN; U.S. aid helps Costa Rica meet foreign debt problems. Guatemalan military coup ousts General Lucas on March 23 and installs a junta headed by Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, who assumed the presidency on June 9; Ríos continues hard line policy against guerrillas after a brief, unsuccessful amnesty; Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) formed as umbrella group for rebel groups. Rightist coalition headed by Major Roberto D'Aubisson defeats Duarte's PDC in legislative election in El Salvador. Duarte resigns presidency, replaced by Alvaro Magaña Borjo, while D'Aubisson becomes president of the Assembly. Hostility escalates between U.S. and Nicaragua, as in March the U.S. makes public reconnaissance photos demonstrating sizable Nicaraguan military buildup. Argentine-trained Honduran Defense Minister, Gustavo Alvarez Martínez, expands Honduran army to 20,000 under Suazo government, in close cooperation with U.S.

1983 Pope John Paul II visits Central America, highlighted by an ugly confrontation with Sandinistas; Pope confirms Arturo Rivera y Damas as Archbishop of El Salvador, a blow to Salvadoran rightists who had hoped for a more conservative appointment; visit to Guatemala strained by Ríos Montt's refusal to grant clemency to six guerrillas, executed on eve of the Pope's arrival. Salvadoran military intrigues and shakeups impede action against the FMLN guerrillas. Ríos Montt ends stage of siege in Guatemala in March, allowing amnesty for those exiled and permitting political parties to function once more; Guatemalan economy continues to falter; military coup in August ousts Ríos Montt and installs Defense Minister Oscar Humberto Mejías Victores; in October the Interamerican Human Rights Commission scores Guatemalan violations and cites the army for the "very gravest violations of human rights including the destruction, burning, and pillaging of entire villages"; a U.N. subcommittee declares Guatemala to be in a state of war and recommends the recognition of belligerency status to the URNG. Leader of Honduran Communist Party assassinated on Jan. 29 in San Pedro Sula. Nicaragua expels three U.S. diplomats accused of trying to assassinate Sandinista leaders for the CIA; when U.S. responds by closing Nicaraguan consulates in the U.S., Nicaragua removes visa requirements for U.S. citizens; Edén Pastora's Revolutionary Democratic Alliance (ARDE) aircraft begin bombing military installations in Managua, apparently aided by the CIA. Ronald Reagan announces his Caribbean Basin Initiative in speech to OAS; U.S. policy continues to insist that Nicaragua is threat to peace in Central America; Central American Defense Council (CONDECA) resurrected; President Monge declares Costa Rica "perpetually and actively neutral" in any armed conflict around the world. Diplomats of Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, and Colombia meet on Contadora Island, Panama, to seek solution to violence and crisis in Central America. Panama complains that U.S. is violation spirit of Canal treaties in its new wage scale that pays lower wages for workers hired after 1978.

1983-84 Major expansion of U.S. military presence in Honduras, with as many as 300 military advisers and up to 7000 U.S. troops participating in maneuvers near the Salvadoran and Nicaraguan borders; border skirmishes and sea-air attacks common along Nicaragua-Honduras border, some involving U.S. forces. Mosquito Indians migrating into Honduras (at least 20,000 since 1979).

1984 U.S. fleets operating off both coasts of Nicaragua; Kissinger Report defends arms aid to El Salvador and calls for military and economic aid to friendly Central American nations, while recognizing serious social and economic inequities. Nicaragua announces elections for Nov. 4, 1984, but opposition boycotts and Daniel Ortega wins easily; as church-state relations worsen, Pope John Paul II admonishes Sandinistas for expelling ten foreign Roman Catholic priests; split furthered when Archbishop Miguel Obando y Bravo declares his support for the opposition. Duarte defeats D'Aubisson in Salvadoran presidential election and takes office; U.S. Congress passes Salvadoran military aid bill within a few days after the election; growing Costa Rican concern over use of Costa Rican territory by ARDE; Pastora wounded when a bomb explodes in his headquarters planted by Argentinian Sandinista hitman. Major shakeup in Honduran military, as younger officers oust Alvarez and his cronies after growing anti-US demonstrations in Honduras. International outcry against mining of Nicaraguan harbors. Nicaragua takes case to World Court (The Hague); U.S. rejects Courts jurisdiction, but stops mining. In the first Panamanian presidential election since 1968, 82-year-old Arnulfo Arias Madrid (running on opposition coalition including his own Authentic Panamanian Party and the Christian Democratic Party) claimed victory over government (Revolutionary Democratic Party) candidate Nicolás Ardito-Barletta, but Election Tribunal declares Ardito the winner; when Panama Canal Commission ( 5 U.S. and 4 Panamanian members) extends special privileges to U.S. employees and operators of the Canal, Panama accuses U.S. of violating 1978 treaty of discriminating against local workers.