IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Confronting Racism from within the Guatemalan State: The Challenges Faced by the Defender of Indigenous Rights of Guatemala's Human Rights Ombudsman's Office

Listed author(s):
  • Roddy Brett
Registered author(s):

    This paper analyzes the development of legal mechanisms and micro-level institutional reforms aimed at consolidating the rights of indigenous peoples in post-conflict Guatemala. The research is based on prolonged fieldwork carried out with the Office of the Defender of Indigenous Peoples' Rights of the Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman's Office (PDH), established in 1998. The paper argues that the establishment of state institutions and institutional reforms oriented towards the protection of indigenous peoples' rights since the end of hostilities in Guatemala's internal armed conflict in 1996 represent important advances, although they occurred within a broader context in which the peace process failed to tackle structural inequalities effectively or enduringly. On the surface, the PDH and related reforms appear to provide indigenous people with unprecedented access to forms of legal redress for human rights violations, including both individual and collective rights. However, given the structural, interpersonal and institutional racism that plagues Guatemalan state and society, such measures remain little more than symbolic, as inadequate funding, racist attitudes within PDH mid- to high-level functionaries, and a lack of institutional will to train functionaries to understand, identify and process systematic violations of indigenous peoples' rights sufficiently impede the effective addressing of profound structural inequalities. The norms and behavior within state institutions and the attitudes of state functionaries operating from within Guatemala's post-conflict multicultural state are today, then, shaped by more subtle forms of exclusion and marginalization of indigenous populations, leading us to question the impact of institutional change on transformations in the political culture.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Oxford Development Studies.

    Volume (Year): 39 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 205-228

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:39:y:2011:i:2:p:205-228
    DOI: 10.1080/13600818.2011.568612
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:39:y:2011:i:2:p:205-228. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael McNulty)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.