Purchase From AmazonDocumenting a rare political occurrence, Rachel McCleary examines the evolution of the two major elite groups in Guatemala—the organized private sector and the military—during the country’s transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Arguing that the transition resulted from a stalemate over economic policy, she shows how the two elites altered their relations from disunity (during the period from 1982 to 1986) to unity (from 1993 to the present). Not only does she describe a nonviolent settlement, she also discusses the development of democracy in a country that was directly caught up in Cold War relations between the United States and the USSR. Thus she makes a serious contribution to the study of democratization as well as to Latin American history.


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“There is a great deal to be learned from McCleary’s work, and she raises serious questions not only about Guatemalan society but also about the democratization of societies in general. . . . We must be immensely grateful to her for providing us in clear and balanced terms with the first, and perhaps only, account and analysis of what happened during those critical days in May and June of 1993.”

–Richard N. Adams, Rapaport Centennial Professor of Liberal Arts, Emeritus, University of Texas, Austin

“McCleary’s book is a thoroughly researched contribution to the existing historiography that will no doubt become the standard reference on the failed autogolpe and its consequences.”

–Rachel Sieder, Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London