Power in Transition: The Rise of Guatemala's Industrial Oligarchy, 1871-1994

Power in Transition: The Rise of Guatemala's Industrial Oligarchy, 1871-1994

Power in Transition: The Rise of Guatemala's Industrial Oligarchy, 1871-1994

Power in Transition: The Rise of Guatemala's Industrial Oligarchy, 1871-1994

Synopsis

Power in Transition examines the history of the economic elites who engineered Guatemala's return to constitutional rule in June, 1993. Dosal traces the changes in the country's elites from the period of the early industrial prioneers to today's neoliberal reformers.

Excerpt

In the early morning hours of May 25, 1993, President Jorge Serrano Elfas of Guatemala suspended the constitution, dissolved the legislature, disbanded the supreme court, and declared himself dictator for the next two and one half years. This self-coup, modeled after President Alberto Fujimori of Peru, nearly terminated a tenuous democratization project launched ten years earlier. In the weeks preceding the Serranazo, the press exposed corruption in the government, students and workers protested consumer price increases, military officers objected to investigations of their alleged human rights violations, and tensions mounted over the impasse in the peace negotiations. The country's second consecutively elected civilian president, Serrano evidently expected that neither the army nor the general public would protest the dissolution of an inept government and the imposition of another dictatorship.

Over the next twelve days, a broad coalition of workers, peasants, popular organizations, and the private sector, supported by the constitutionalist faction of the military, demanded a return to the democratic order. On June 6 the legislature and the military bowed to popular demands, sent Serrano and his vice president into exile, and elected former Human Rights Ombudsman Ramiro De León Carpio as the new president. Guatemalans congratulated themselves on an unprecedented victory. For the first time in their modern history, they crossed class and ethnic lines to reverse a military coup and restore democracy.

The armed forces arbitrated the presidential succession, but the strength and unity of the popular opposition weakened the resolve of the officers. Few could have predicted that the powerful private sector representative, the Comité Coordinadora de Asociaciones Agrfcolas, Comerciales, Industriales, y Financieras (Coordinating Committee of Commercial, Industrial, and Financial Associations, CACIF) would unite with Nobel Peace Prize recipient Rigoberta Menchú--who CACIF had always condemned as a communist collaborator--to restore constitutional order. The interruption of the democratization process brought CACIF into a shaky alliance with labor unions, several Maya organizations, students, political parties, and several popular organizations, all of which demanded the removal of Serrano and the installation of De León.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.