Of Centaurs and Doves

Guatemala’s Peace Process


Susanne Jonas

First Edition • March 1, 2000 • 320 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813334684 • $43.00 USD$56.50 CAN

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In this, the first English-language book-length account of Guatemala’s historic but difficult peace process, Susanne Jonas assesses the negotiation and content of the 1996 peace accords, and their implementation as of 1999. Her analysis also highlights their significance beyond Guatemala—for Central America over the long run, and for the Americas as a whole—and the effects the peace accords will have on U.S.-Latin American relations.

This sequel to The Battle for Guatemala picks up as the peace negotiations were beginning in Guatemala after thirty years of civil war, and follows the process through 1999. The authenticity and comprehensiveness of Jonas’ account of the negotiation and implementation of the peace accords stem from the hundreds of interviews she conducted from 1990 through 1999 with all of the key actors, both domestic and international. This book, therefore, represents the author’s unique positioning to develop a trans-national perspective that is both rooted in Guatemala and informed by multiple international viewpoints.

Jonas describes key moments and turning points in the unpredictable negotiation process, as well as the roles of major actors—not only the Guatemalan government and leftist insurgents, but also the United Nations and Guatemala’s Assembly of Civil Society. She also analyzes the accords themselves, with all their strengths and limitations. Her analysis of their implementation since 1997 includes detailed accounts of the major battles, over demilitarization, tax reform, indigenous rights, and constitutional reforms.In a world plagued by civil wars, many of them involving an ethnic component, the Guatemalan peace process is a source of great lessons and great relevance throughout the Americas and worldwide. Moreover, Jonas’ analysis of the Guatemalan experience raises a number of broader issues about revolution, negotiation, peacemaking, democratization, and U.S.interests; hence, her book is of interest to a wide range of Latin Americanists as well as comparativists, students of international affairs, and general readers. It was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 2001.


Susanne Jonas teaches Latin American & Latino Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. An expert on Central America and Guatemala for over 32 years, she is the author of The Battle for Guatemala: Rebels, Death Squads, and U.S. Power (Westview 1991). She recently coedited Immigration: Civil Rights Issue for the Americas.

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