Villagrán Kramer, Francisco (1922–)

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Villagrán Kramer, Francisco (1922–)

Francisco Villagrán Kramer (b. 5 April 1922), vice president of Guatemala (1977–1980). Born in Guatemala City into a Protestant family, Francisco Villagrán earned his law degree at the University of San Carlos in 1951. Active in the October Revolution (1944), he served both Juan José Arévalo (1945–1951) and Jacobo Arbenz (1950–1954) at international conferences. He helped Mario Méndez Montenegro (1912–1965) found the Partido Revolutionario (PR) in 1957, but broke with the PR to organize the more leftist Revolutionary Unity Party (URD) in 1958.

Considered a radical, he was exiled by the Enrique Peralta Azurdia military regime (1963–1966) in 1965. The new constitution drafted that year raised the minimum age for the presidency from thirty-five to forty to specifically bar him from the 1966 elections.

Concerned about growing political polarization and violence, Villagrán returned to the PR in 1978 to become General Romeo Lucas García's (1978–1982) running mate in order to, in his words to a Washington Post reporter, "avoid a Custer's last stand in Guatemala." Failing to moderate the repressive character of the regime, he helped organize the Democratic Front Against Repression in 1979. He resigned as vice president in September 1980. He subsequently became a leader in the Christian Democratic Party (DCG), and also worked for the World Bank. After that, he served on the Inter-American Juridical Committee of the Organization of American States (OAS), as well as on the United Nation's International Law Commission. In 1994 he won election to the Guatemalan Congress, and he headed its committee on human rights. In 1997 he was nominated for a seat on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an arm of the OAS. His nomination was controversial due to the death squads that operated in Guatemala while he served as vice president. His own son was one of those who spoke out against him, doing so in a 1997 letter to the editor of the New York Times.

See alsoGuatemala .


Henry Wells, ed., Guatemala: Election Factbook (1966).

Carlos C. Haeussler Yela, Diccionario General de Guatemala, vol. 3. (1983).

Francisco Villlagrán Kramer, Biografía política de Guatemala: Los pactos políticos de 1944 a 1970 (1993).

Additional Bibliography

Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico. Guatemala: Causas y origenes del enfrentamiento armado interno. Guatemala: F&G Editores, 2006.

García, Prudencio. El genocidio de Guatemala: A la luz de la sociología militar. Madrid: Sepha Edición y Diseño, 2005.

Grandin, Greg. The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Villagrán Kramer, Francisco. Biografía política de Guatemala. Vol. 2, Años de guerra y años de paz. Guatemala: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 2004.

                                        Roland H. Ebel

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Villagrán Kramer, Francisco (1922–)

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