From dark past to promising future: Guatemala's new military and disaster management after the 1996 peace accords
Civil-military relations theory stresses the importance of civilian control of the military and clearly defined roles for the military in democratic societies. There are two distinct perspectives regarding military roles. Traditionalist thinkers argue that the military should be restricted solely to its traditional role of national defense. On the other hand, some scholars propose additional, diverse, non-traditional roles for the military such as humanitarian assistance, law enforcement activities, peace-keeping operations, and disaster management, as â€œnew military roles.â€ Guatemala serves as a case study where a military institution has received much criticism for past political involvement and lack of respect for civil authority. The 1996 Peace Accords stipulated a reduction and new mission for the Guatemalan military, which put new emphasis on disaster management, and serves as the research starting point. This study describes Guatemalan military involvement in disaster management during 1997-2002. In order to determine the nature of Guatemalan military involvement in disaster management, three indicators are examined: 1) organization, 2) training, and 3) participation in disaster response. Analysis of military compliance with Peace Accord directives, and the three indicators, is conducted to assess how well the Guatemalan military respected civil authority during the study period. This dissertation argues that the post-1996 Guatemalan military was involved in disaster management yet stayed within the bounds of civilian control of the military. The implications of these findings will add to the existing literature concerning civil-military relations, disaster management, and the controversial topic of non-traditional roles for the military.