Countering Criminal Insurgencies: Fighting Gangs and Building Resilient Communities in Post-War Guatemala
During the Cold War, Guatemala has witnessed one of the most brutal and prolonged counter-insurgency campaigns. While many observers interpreted the return to democracy in 1996 as a rupture with the country’s counter-insurgent past, this chapter demonstrates the renaissance of counter-insurgent violence in contemporary Guatemala. We show how transnational security governance efforts aimed at confronting the local ‘criminal insurgency’ represented by street gangs, introduce a new pattern of counter-insurgent violence into the country’s social fabric. As liberal state-building projects have largely failed to deliver the expected results in the local ‘war on gangs’, local and external actors increasingly promote the creation of ‘resilient’ communities within the field of counter-insurgency-inspired anti-gang policies, thereby blurring the boundaries between transnational policing, military operations and development aid.