Reason.tv: The Guatemalan Telecommunications Miracle—A Conversation with Alfredo Guzman


"In Guatemala we have a clear example that freedom works," Alfredo Guzmán told us in May, 2011.

A graduate of the market-oriented Universidad Francisco Marroquin , Guzmán was appointed director of Guatemala's state-run telecommunications company, GUATEL, in 1995. Back then, Guatemala had a population of 11 million people but fewer than 300,000 phones. President Arzú had a simple request for the new head of Guatemala's state-run monopoly: I want a lot of phones, everywhere, fast.

So what did Guzmán do? Despite fierce political opposition, Guzmán successfully opened up Guatemala's telecommunications industry to competition and privatized GUATEL. As Guzmán told us, "sometimes thoughts become things," and, as it turns out, Guzmán had learned a few things about economics while studying at UFM.

The results? Guatemala currently has a population of around 13 million people and more than 18 million phones. Today, even the poorest Guatemaltecos own cell phones and enjoy high-quality service at low cost. 

Approximately 7.5 minutes. Produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning.

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