Childhood & Early Life
Jorge Serrano Elias was born on April 26, 1945 in Guatemala City, Guatemala. His father was Jorge Adan Serrano and his mother was Rosa Elias, who was of Lebanese descent.
Serrano has three sisters. He attended high school at the ‘Liceu Guatemala’ in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
He graduated from the ‘University of San Carlos’ in Guatemala with a degree in industrial engineering and economic development, in 1967.
From 1966 to 1967, Serrano was ‘President of the Engineering Students Association’ at the University of San Carlos.
He also received a doctorate in education and science from ‘Stanford University’ in California.
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In 1975, Serrano became an evangelical Baptist after a lifetime of being a devout Catholic. He then joined the ‘Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship’ and later the ‘Pentecostal Church of the Word’. The head of the church in Guatemala was Efrain Rios Montt.
In 1976, he worked with several religious organizations in the United States to raise funds to help his native Guatemala following a devastating earthquake hit the country. He then joined 'El Shaddai', a Protestant congregation headquartered in California.
He published a white paper about the conditions of the indigenous people of Guatemala and received numerous death threats, which caused him to flee to the United States.
From 1978 to 1981, he was President of the ‘Organization of American States Inter-American Council for Education, Science and Culture’.
In 1982, he returned to Guatemala to accept a position as Vice President of the ‘Advisory Board’ under President Efrain Rios Montt. The following year, Serrano alienated a large percentage of the population when he refused to shake hands with the visiting Pope John Paul II.
In 1985, he ran for president of Guatemala as a member of the PDCN and PR party but came in third place.He co-founded the MAS political party, a year later.
He was appointed to be one of the four members of the ‘National Reconciliation Commission’, tasked with investigating the crimes of the former government of Rios Montt, in 1987.
On November 11, 1990, he ran for president of Guatemala as a member of the MAS party and was elected in the second round to a five-year term, defeating Jorge Carpio. Serrano's election was the first time in the country's history that an incumbent president had peacefully surrendered power following an election.
He recognized the nation of Belize, a contentious issue following a century of wars and disputes between the two countries, in 1991.
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In 1993, he signed the Guatemala Protocol, a series of agreements to reduce trade tariffs.In the same year, Serrano signed an agreement with Mexico that permitted the repatriation of 2.500 Guatemalan refugees who had fled their country during the decades-long civil war.
In a shocking turn of events on May 25, 1993, he suspended the constitution, dissolved the Supreme Court and Parliament to lead a "self coup", installing himself as dictator.
On June 1, 1993, facing stiff opposition from the public and the military, he resigned as president and fled to El Salvador. Six months later, he and his family resettled permanently in Panama.
On August 10, 1994 the authorities in Panama declined an extradition request to return Serrano to Guatemala.
He began work as a consultant, helping to develop the prestigious Hacienda Country Club in Panama, which was inaugurated in 1997.
In 2002, Guatemala issued an international arrest warrant against Serrano.
Serrano currently works as a real estate developer in both Panama and the United States. Once a week he appears on the Panamanian radio talk show 'La Palabra', which reaches much of Guatemala.