Trouble in Central America: Guatemala on the Brink

Issue Date April 2010
Volume 21
Issue 2
Page Numbers 108-122
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Thirteen years after the signing of peace, Guatemalan democracy remains tentative and fragile. Formal democratic procedures are observed, formally democratic institutions are in place and levels of social organization and political participation have substantially increased. Yet these advances barely conceal a state captive to organized crime, a poorly representative and responsive political party system and a fragmented civil society in which the marginalized indigenous population struggles to make its voice heard. The democratic challenges reflect a polity and a society in which exclusionary patterns and structures of power prevail and in which the ethnic and class divisions that fueled 36 years of armed conflict remain perilously close to the surface.