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Explaining State Violence in the Guatemalan Civil War: Rebel Threat and Counterinsurgency

  • Yuichi Kubota (a1)

Literature on the Guatemalan Civil War has debated whether or not state violence was triggered by rebel activities. Did the government respond to each insurrection caused by the rebels, or did it blindly target regions where antigovernment antipathy and movements had historically prevailed? Because state violence was extensive during the civil war period, the dynamism of the war could have been the reason for its occurrence. Relying on the threat-response model of state violence, this article argues that human rights violations occurred when the government perceived a rebel threat that would have seriously degraded its capability in future counterinsurgencies. The article employs propensity score matching to address the problem of confounding in empirical analysis, and reveals that rebel attacks, particularly those targeting security apparatus and resulting in human injury, increased the likelihood of state violence in the Guatemalan Civil War.

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