Los Altos, Central America

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Sexto Estado de Los Altos
Estado de Los Altos
State of the Federal Republic of Central America and break-away republic of Guatemala



Flag Coat of arms
Capital Quetzaltenango
Languages Spanish
Government Republic
 -  1838–1840 Marcelo Molina
 -  1848 Fernando Antonio Dávila
José Velazco
Rafael de La Torre
 -  Established 2 February 1838
 -  Disestablished 21 October 1848
Currency Central American Republic real

Los Altos (Spanish for "the highlands" or "the heights") was the sixth state of the Federal Republic of Central America, and a short-lived independent republic. Its capital was Quetzaltenango. Los Altos occupied eight departments in the west of present-day Guatemala as well as the Soconusco region in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

The state originated from the political differences and tensions between Guatemala City on one side, and Quetzaltenango and other parts of western Central America on the other. Debate about separation from Guatemala dated from shortly after Central American independence from Spain in 1821. Such a separate state was provided for by the Federal constitutional assembly of November 1824, but there was sizable opposition to the separation in Guatemala City.

The independence of Los Altos from Guatemala was officially proclaimed on 2 February 1838. The Federal government recognized Los Altos as the sixth state of the union and seated the representatives of Los Altos in the Federal Congress on 5 June of that year. The flag of Los Altos was a modification of that of the Central American Union, with a central seal showing a volcano in the background with a quetzal (a local bird symbolizing liberty) in front. This was the first Central American flag to use the quetzal as a symbol; since 1871, it has been on the present flag of Guatemala.

Los Altos consisted of the administrative regions of Totonicapán (the modern Guatemalan departments of Totonicapán, Huehuetenango), Quetzaltenango (the modern departments of Quetzaltenango and San Marcos) and Suchitepéquez-Sololá (the modern departments of Retalhuleu, Suchitepéquez, Sololá, and Quiché).

As the Federation crumbled into civil war, Los Altos declared itself an independent republic. On 2 April 1840, the majority of the government officials from Los Altos were captured by Rafael Carrera's horde army, then quickly shot on his orders. Carrera, now de facto ruler, forcibly annexed Quetzaltenango and much of Los Altos into Guatemala. Taking advantage of the chaos and unsettled situation, the Soconusco region was annexed by Mexico.

In 1844, 1848, and 1849, unsuccessful revolts against the dictatorship of Rafael Carrera briefly reproclaimed the independence of Los Altos.

The region is still distinctive today, and Los Altos is still a nickname for the region of Guatemala around Quetzaltenango. Similarly, the Mexican portion of the former state is known as Los Altos de Chiapas.

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