Nearly half of Guatemala’s people identify as indigenous. The Maya (who themselves speak 21 distinct languages) are the largest single group, though the country is also home to Afro-descendant peoples, especially along the Caribbean coast. These often-marginalized communities suffer from high rates of poverty, chronic malnutrition and persistent struggles over land and natural resources. The urban poor endure high murder rates as street gangs wage bloody battles for control of extortion and other criminal rackets. USIP programming will focus on promoting a culture of lawfulness while helping civic leaders — especially young activists — overcome the country’s historic inequities and reduce polarization.
Este informe analiza la lucha contra la corrupción en Guatemala llevada a cabo por movimientos sociales en los últimos cinco años, y se hace foco en sus principales éxitos y desafíos al trabajar para avanzar la transparencia, la responsabilidad y la buena gobernanza. Las lecciones aprendidas de los esfuerzos de los movimientos sociales para lograr un cambio positivo en Guatemala pueden aplicarse a otros movimientos del mundo que se encuentran en contextos similares. Las lecciones también tienen mayor relevancia para los actores internacionales que ayudan a los estados a reconstruir la paz y la gobernanza democrática luego de un conflicto violento prolongado.
Guatemalans have once again risen up by the thousands to demand major changes in how their country is governed. Their demands are intended to usher in reforms that will improve quality of life for citizens reeling from the impacts of two deadly hurricanes, as well as health and economic crises that have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The demonstrations are reminiscent of the 2015 protests that prompted the resignations of top officials, including the country’s president. However, that movement fell short of broader, structural change. This time around, protesters can draw on lessons learned from the past to achieve long-term reform and target Guatemala’s persistent systems of corruption.
This report analyzes the fight against corruption in Guatemala by social movements over the past five years, homing in on their major successes and challenges in working to advance transparency, accountability, and good governance. The lessons drawn from these efforts can be applicable for other movements around the world operating in similar contexts. The work also has a larger bearing for international actors helping states build peace and democratic governance following prolonged violent conflict.