Guatemala’s Failed Promise

Jeff Abbott has written a piece for The Progressive, reflecting on the failure of the Guatemalan Peace Accords, twenty-five years after their signing, and the unmet hopes for social justice.


Twenty-five years after the peace accords that ended the Central American country’s civil war, the hope for social justice has dimmed.

There is growing desperation across communities in Guatemala. Twenty-five years after the end of the country’s thirty-six-year-long civil war, the lack of hope—resulting from an economic crisis and government inaction—is driving tens of thousands of people to migrate in search of opportunity.

On December 29, 1996, the signing of the peace accords between the Guatemalan government and the guerrilla leaders of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity, or Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca, opened the door to resolving what caused the war. These problems included social inequalities, racism, and poverty, all of which have plagued Guatemala since the Spanish invasion in 1524, and worsened following the 1954 U.S.-backed coup d’état against democratically elected President Jacobo Árbenz.

For a brief moment, it seemed, “there was great hope in the signing of that peace agreement,” says Ana López, the former director of the Guatemalan National Council for the Compliance with the Peace Accords. “It opened paths for us. This was very fertile ground.”

New institutions were formed to address systemic issues. Programs for rural development to address land disparities emerged, and a secretariat of land, women, and Indigenous peoples was established to reduce discrimination.

But in the past twenty-five years, many of these institutions have come under attack. Political will in adhering to the agreements has eroded, especially as administrations with connections to the military have become more common.

Since 1996, Guatemalan governments have consolidated and limited the state institutions; far-right politicians have proposed amnesty for soldiers accused of war crimes. What’s more, fraud and corruption have emerged, and the inequalities that caused many to take up arms in the 1960s and 1970s have remained.


You can read the full article including links and photos, here, Guatemala’s Failed Promise.

The writer created a column, ‘The Other Americans’, for The Progressive, on the theme of human migration in North and Central America, and you can read his columns here, The Other Americans.



Categories: Corruption, Criminalisation, Culture, Environment, Evictions, Femicide, Gender, Genocide, Guatemala, Human Rights, Impunity, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land, Legal, Migration, Military, Mining, Natural Disaster, Poverty, Resource Extraction, Violence

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