Guatemala . . . Teetering on the Brink?

Carol Lancaster
September 09, 2008

This essay is about important and hopeful changes taking place in much of Central and South America that are not easily captured in the data on these countries. Above all, it is about Guatemala—a very beautiful and culturally rich country that is just beginning to realize its enormous promise . . . but which also faces obstacles to its progress that it may find difficult to overcome.

The apparent knife edge on which Guatemala is teetering—between continued progress on the one hand and possibly severe setbacks on the other—presents not only Guatemala but the United States with considerable challenges. The country is too close for Washington to ignore, but ignore it Washington has. As it has with other countries in Latin America, the United States has focused on two major issues over the past eight years: drugs and migration. These are important but they cannot be addressed effectively in isolation from other problems in the region. Rethinking our policies toward our neighbors to the south will surely be one of the many early tasks facing the next U.S. administration.

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