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Master's Professional Reports Abstract

Indigenous and State Relations in Guatemala: A Redefinition under Democracy

As Guatemala, a country known for its authoritarian and repressive governments and for its civil war, attempts to consolidate democratic governance, improving the relationship between the state and the indigenous people is one of the key challenges it faces. Since the conquest of the Americas, the Mayans of Guatemala who make up the majority of the population have suffered discrimination, repression, and violence as a result of their ethnicity. In addition, government policies have traditionally excluded the indigenous peoples from all national decision-making. Therefore, the successful reconstruction of Guatemala into a sustainable and legitimate democracy will depend largely on how the government can incorporate authentic indigenous representation into the national system and address previously ignored indigenous rights. Historical experience would argue against the possibility of the Mayans enjoying the benefits of democracy. However, a variety of developments have come together to cause a reevaluation of the relationship between the Guatemalan State and the Mayans. This report explores how the indigenous peoples find themselves with an opportunity to participate in the reconstruction of the country as a result of their organization into a Pan-Mayan movement, international attention and support, and the structures the government has provided in the name of democracy and peace.

--Author's foreword.


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