Throughout its history Guatemala has been one of the most iniquitous and violent societies in Latin America. Poverty is particularly acute in rural and indigenous communities, where illiteracy, infant mortality and malnutrition are pervasive (BBC, 2004a). Reforms to address these issues began in the 1940s, but were brought to an abrupt halt in 1954 when a right-wing government came to power in a military coup. Confronted by an emerging guerilla campaign, the government responded with ruthless counter-insurgency measures which precipiated 36 years of entrenched civil conflict. By 1966 both the government/army and guerillas were targeting not only each other, but also civilians considered to be sympathetic to one side or the other.

Guatemala: A Risk Assessment Brief