Guatemalan Migration to Los Angeles:

Struggle for Survival

  • Jonathan Solares Student
Keywords: Kanjobal, Pico-Union, WestLake, Los Angeles, Guatemalans


The Guatemalan migration to Los Angeles hides behind a violent thirty-year Civil War that lasted from 1960 to 1996; the violent events started after the USA supported a coup against the Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz. The coup marked the beginning of political instability in Guatemala. The instability led to the formation of guerrilla groups seeking to overthrow the military regime; the confrontation by both groups occurred in the highlands of Guatemala, where many of the indigenous villages were decimated, and its populations almost eradicated. As a result, an increased number of indigenous populations started escaping the political violence they faced by guerrilla and military groups and began migrating to Los Angeles.  The number of indigenous people arriving in Los Angeles increased dramatically during the 1980s and 1990s; however, these communities continued to face adversities upon arrival in Los Angeles. The indigenous communities had to find ways to maintain their culture alive and settle in Los Angeles. This paper will seek to explore how the civil war in Guatemala led to an increased number of Guatemalans arriving in Los Angeles, focusing on the Mayan Kanjobal community. The paper will also focus on the settlement of the Kanjobales in the West-Lake and Pico-Union region of Southern Los Angeles and the ways their culture was challenged upon arriving at Los Angeles.

How to Cite
Solares, J. (2021). Guatemalan Migration to Los Angeles:: Struggle for Survival. The Toro Historical Review, 10(1), 78-97. Retrieved from