Kayb'il B'alam

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Kayb'il B'alam (alternatively written Kaibil Balam) was a 16th-century leader of the Mam people in the Maya kingdom in the western highlands of Guatemala.[1] During the time of the Spanish invasion, the Mam population was mainly situated in Xinabahul (Now modern-day Huehuetenango). However, due to the Spanish conquest, the people returned to the stone fortifications of Zaculeu for protection.

The city was attacked in 1525 by conquistador Gonzalo de Alvarado y Contreras, brother of Pedro de Alvarado.[2] Kayb'il B'alam and his warriors successfully repelled the attempted siege by the Spanish forces for several months until being forced to surrender after being reduced to the verge of starvation.[3]

In 1975, the Guatemalan Army created a special operations force, the Kaibiles, named after Kayb'il B'alam. The group is centered out of Huehuetenango ("Land of the Old") some 5 km from the original stand off site at Zaculeu.


  1. ^ Recinos 1986, p.110.
  2. ^ Polo Sifontes, undated.
  3. ^ Recinos 1986, p.110.


Polo Sifontes, Francis. Zaculeu: Ciudadela Prehispánica Fortificada (in Spanish). Guatemala: IDAEH (Instituto de Antropología e Historia de Guatemala). 
Recinos, Adrian (1986). Pedro de Alvarado: Conquistador de México y Guatemala (in Spanish) (2nd ed.). Guatemala: CENALTEX Centro Nacional de Libros de Texto y Material Didáctico "José de Pineda Ibarra". OCLC 243309954.