Guatemala’s history began at the flourishing of the Mayan empire in the Petén region of Guatemala, before they suffered a time of weakness and became vulnerable for defeat. The ancient Maya lasted the longest of all the cultures that thrived in Guatemala, and left the most evidence. War, drought, epidemic, and revolt are speculations why the decline started. While the Maya were vulnerable, it was the perfect opportunity for the Spanish to defeat the Maya in the 9th century. Guatemala gained its independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. But the Spanish had brought in new religions, Roman Catholic and Protestant, and new languages that were there to stay. Spanish is now the main language because of the conquest of the Maya. In more recent news, Guatemala has had issues with human violations, an example of one being the slaughtering of Bishop Juan José Gerardi in 1998. Guatemala’s current president, Otto Pérez Molina, elected in 2011, has been accused of human rights abuses like these but denies all accusations.