Justo Rufino Barrios
Justo Rufino Barrios was a President of Guatemala
President of Guatemala
The title of President of Guatemala has been the usual title of the leader of Guatemala since 1839, when that title was assumed by Mariano Rivera Paz...

 known for his liberal
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 reforms and his attempts to reunite Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

Barrios was born in the village of San Lorenzo
San Lorenzo, San Marcos
San Lorenzo is a municipality in the San Marcos department of Guatemala.It was found in 1812 year by Spanish families.This is the birthplace of Justo Rufino Barrios-President of Guatemala.His native house is declared as a National Heritage.*...

, in the department of San Marcos
San Marcos, Guatemala
San Marcos San Marcos San Marcos (elevation: 7,868 feet (2,398 meters) is a city and municipality in Guatemala.It is the capital of the department of San Marcos.The municipality has a population of approximately 45,000.-Sports:...

. He was known from his youth for his intellect and energy, went to Guatemala City
Guatemala City
Guatemala City , is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala and Central America...

 to study law, and became a lawyer in 1862. In 1867, revolt broke out in western Guatemala, which many residents wished to return to its former status of an independent state as Los Altos. Barrios joined with the rebels in Quetzaltenango
Quetzaltenango, also commonly known by its indigenous name, Xelajú , or more commonly, Xela , is the second largest city of Guatemala. It is both the capital of Quetzaltenango Department and the municipal seat of Quetzaltenango municipality....

, and soon proved himself a capable military leader, and in time gained the rank of general in the rebel army. In July 1871, Barrios, together with other generals and dissidents, issued the "Plan for the Fatherland" proposing to overthrow Guatemala's long entrenched Conservadora (conservative) administration; soon after, they succeeded in doing so, and General García Granados was declared president and Barrios commander of the armed forces. While Barrios was back in Quetzaltenago, García Granados was overthrown by a revolt. Barrios again marched on the capital and became the new president. The Conservative government in Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

 gave military backing to a group of Guatemalan Conservatives wishing to take back the government, so Barrios declared war on the Honduran government. At the same time, Barrios, together with President Luis Bogran
Luis Bográn
Luis Bográn Barahona was a President of Honduras, who served two consecutive presidential terms from 30 November 1883 to 30 November 1891. He was born in the northern Honduran department of Santa Bárbara on 3 June 1849 to Saturnino Bográn Bonilla and Gertrudis Barahona Leiva. He was a member of a...

 of Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

, declared an intention to reunify the old United Provinces of Central America.

Barrios instituted a number of reforms, including freedom of the press. He attacked the Catholic Church, limiting its power and confiscating its property. He was elected President in May 1873.

Barrios oversaw substantial cleaning and rebuilding of Guatemala City, and set up a new and accountable police force. He brought the first telegraph lines and railroads to the Republic. He established a system of public schools in the country.

In 1879, a constitution was ratified for Guatemala (the Republic's first as an independent nation, as the old Conservador regime had ruled by decree). In 1880, Barrios was reelected President for a six-year term. Barrios unsuccessfully attempted to get the United States of America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 to mediate the disputed boundary between Guatemala and Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...


Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras agreed to reform the Central American Union, but then Salvadoran President Zaldivar decided to withdraw from the Union, and sent envoys to Mexico to join in an alliance to overthrow Barrios. Mexican President Porfirio Díaz
Porfirio Díaz
José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was a Mexican-American War volunteer and French intervention hero, an accomplished general and the President of Mexico continuously from 1876 to 1911, with the exception of a brief term in 1876 when he left Juan N...

 feared Barrios' liberal reforms and the potential of a strong Central America as a neighbor if Barrios' plans bore fruit. Díaz sent Mexican troops to seize the disputed land of Soconusco
Soconusco is a region of the Mexican state of Chiapas, located in the extreme south of the state and separated from Guatemala by the Suchiate River. It is a region of rich lowlands and foothills. The economic center is Tapachula. Soconusco consists of 16 municipalities.The name comes from the...

. Meanwhile, Barrios was personally leading the army into El Salvador, where he was killed at Chalchuapa
Chalchuapa is a town and a municipality located in the Santa Ana department of El Salvador. The city of Chalchuapa is in a wide valley at 650 meters above sea level, and watered by the Pampe River.- Overview :...

, El Salvador. Much of the hope for a reunited Central America died with him.

Today, his portrait is on the five Quetzal bill in Guatemala and the city and port of Puerto Barrios
Puerto Barrios
Puerto Barrios is a city in Guatemala, located within the Gulf of Honduras at. The bay in which the harbour is located is called Bahia de Amatique. Puerto Barrios is the departmental seat of Izabal department and the administrative seat of Puerto Barrios municipality.Puerto Barrios was named after...

, capital of Izabal
Izabal may refer to various locations in Guatemala:* Izabal Department* Lago de Izabal a lake within Izabal department* Izabal a town within Izabal department...

, bears his name.

See also

  • History of Guatemala
    History of Guatemala
    The history of Guatemala begins with the arrival of the first human settlers as early as 12,000 BC or even 18,000 BC. Civilization developed and flourished during the Pre-Columbian era with little to no contact with cultures from outside of Mesoamerica...

  • Presidents of Guatemala
  • History of Central America
    History of Central America
    The history of Central America is the study of the past of the region known as Central America.- Before European contact :In pre-Columbian times, most of modern Central America was part of the Mesoamerican civilization. The Native American societies of Mesoamerica occupied the land ranging from...

  • Avenida Reforma
    Avenida Reforma
    Avenida Reforma , is a main boulevard/avenue in the east-center part of Guatemala City, the capital of Guatemala. It is considered one of the main, if not the most important thoroughfare of Guatemala City...

  • Torre del Reformador
    Torre del Reformador
    The Torre del Reformador is a 75 metre tall steel framework tower in the Zone 9 of Guatemala City. The tower was built in 1935, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Justo Rufino Barrios, who was President of Guatemala and instituted a number of reforms.The basic shape of the...

External links

[Short biography and picture http://www.deguate.com/personajes/article_761.shtml]
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