Peace Stillborn? Guatemala’s Liberal Peace and the Indigenous Movement

This article analyses the relationship between Guatemala’s protracted internationally sponsored peace process (1987–96) and the country’s indigenous movement. The impact of the peace process and its emancipatory potential was ultimately limited by the intransigence of triumphalist national military, economic and political elites and the acute limitations imposed by the liberal peace framework in the aftermath of the United Nations’ Agenda for Peace. Negotiations did not respond adequately to the underlying structural causes of armed conflict, nor did they represent or incorporate sufficiently the historical demands and cultural focus of Guatemala’s majority indigenous population, undergirded as they were by a restricted rights framework that coincided with the liberal peace parameters. Indigenous actors nevertheless took advantage of the embedded liberal peace and the political space it afforded, developing hybrid political forms to make visible their historical demands and establish an incipient peace infrastructure.