GUATEMALA CITY – Vinicio Cerezo, who in 1991 became the first Guatemalan head of state in four decades to hand over power to a democratically elected successor, said the Central American nation faces dangerous consequences due to a failure to fully implement the 1996 Peace Accords.
“The danger for Guatemala is that our state becomes truly a failed state if we continue on this course,” he said in an interview with EFE.
The Guatemalan governing apparatus is currently characterized by endemic incompetence and lethargy, resulting in an inability to fulfill its obligations, the 73-year-old attorney said.
Over time, the 1996 agreements that ended 36 years of civil war between the security forces and leftist guerrillas “ceased to express a policy based on social consensus and became an administrative task for the government.”
“And that left them (the peace accords) historically out of sync with each other,” leading in turn to a disjunction between politics and the economy, Cerezo said.
Wealth has increased, but remains concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority, while the state has weakened to the point where it can no longer fulfill its role, he said.
The former president, who governed from 1986-1991, participated Wednesday in the 7th Esquipulas Regional Forum on democracy, integration and development.
Cerezo, one of the promoters of the 1987 Esquipulas agreements that set in motion a pacification process throughout Central America, said that foreign “interventions” in Guatemala and the region are often the result of structural problems such as corruption and migration that other countries, notably the U.S., see as threatening to their national interests.
“Sovereignty is affected to the degree that state institutions realize or don’t realize how to control” even well-intentioned foreign involvement in the country’s affairs, he said.
Asked whether current President Jimmy Morales was equal to the challenges facing Guatemala, Cerezo was blunt: “I believe that he is not yet handling the situation appropriately.”
Cerezo described as “terrible” the condition of roads, ports, airports and other infrastructure in Central America, making an appeal for regional cooperation.
“We all need each other,” he said.