Date of this Version
Guatemala is not a failed state and is unlikely to become one in the near future. Although the state currently fails to provide adequate security to its citizens or an appropriate range of effective social programs, it does supply a functioning electoral democracy, sound economic management, and a promising new antipoverty program, My Family Progresses (MIFAPRO). Guatemala is a weak state. The principal security threats represented by expanding Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), criminal parallel powers, and urban gangs have overwhelmed the resources of the under-resourced and compromised criminal justice system. The UN-sponsored International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), however, has demonstrated that progress against organized crime is possible. The principal obstacles to strengthening the Guatemalan state lie in the traditional economic elite’s resistance to taxation and the venal political class’ narrow focus on short-term interests. Guatemala lacks a strong, policyoriented, mass-based political party that could develop a coherent national reform program and mobilize public support around it. The United States should strengthen the Guatemalan state by expanding the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) and by strongly supporting CICIG, MIFAPRO, and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE).
Ruhl, J. Mark, "Guatemala: A Failing State?" (2011). Western Hemisphere Security Analysis Center. Paper 12.