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Cause or consequence? - Reframing violence and displacement in Guatemala

Initial findings from the Guatemala report suggest that ‘structural’ violence - a term used to describe social mechanisms, state institutions and cultural norms that prevent people from meeting their basic needs - causes more displacement than direct violence. However, forced evictions, threats from gangs, domestic abuse and the persecution of minority groups also act as displacement triggers.

This new research, as part of IDMC's thematic series "Web of violence: crime and displacement in Central America", debunks a popular misconception that people from Central America who cross the border towards the US are eagerly awaiting their chance to access “the American dream”. Patterns of population movement within Guatemala suggest the opposite. The research found that people make substantial efforts to avoid having to leave their home communities. And violence, crime and displacement combine to trap vulnerable people, particularly the young, in a downward spiral, where committing further violence and crime is their only chance of survival.

The study draws on field research in Guatemala and an extensive desk review of relevant literature, both undertaken between February and May 2018. 

Download the executive summary for our report on Guatemala (PDF, 0.5MB) in English or Spanish.

Download the thematic report (PDF, 1.4MB)