The Battle for Guatemala: Multilevel Governance and the Nation-state

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Although a brutal Civil War ended in 1996 and a democratisation process was initiated, Guatemalan statehood remains contested. Due to a historical process defined by elite capture and extreme repression, the State never fully consolidated. As a result, formal institutions tasked with political and economic governance are not as robust or effective as the informal institutions. There have been important developments. For instance, a myriad of social actors was able to carve out a space of public political and economic resistance which continues to this day. Notwithstanding these advances, Guatemala is now facing widespread insecurity as a result of the rise of transnational drug-trafficking, and the presence of gangs and cartels. The current crisis has worsened historic and structural injustices. In this regard, security governance is never an isolated issue. It is deeply interwoven with political and economic forms of governance. Due to the weak political governance, cartels and gangs can operate with near impunity. Then, because of weak economic governance, there are countless desperately poor youths willing to enter the drug trade. To address these security issues, it is crucial to look at the institutional, political and social factors which have shaped the national context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-68
JournalThe Journal of Leadership and Developing Societies
Issue number1
Early online date23 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2020


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