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By Raul Molina Mejía

I. Introduction

Guatemala is a country immersed in a deep economic, social and political crisis. It stopped any sort of development in 1954, and after that year it has suffered such a regression that a half century has been wasted. Today, after more than 40 years of military rule, which has meant the worst repression ever in the country, and more than 30 years of internal armed conflict, a peace-seeking negotiations process is finally opening political spaces, and leading towards a transformation of the state and society.

The years 1994 and 1995 have been extremely positive for changing the status quo. The agreements signed by the Government of Guatemala and the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG) during this period are shaping the conditions for a new Guatemala, yet to emerge. Some important results have already occurred, such as the presence of a UN Mission for the Verification of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights in Guatemala (MINUGUA) after 21 November 1994, and the participation of the democratic left in national elections held on 12 November 1995.

The purpose of this article is to identify the way in which academic freedom, together with university life, has been constrained by the state policies based on the ideology of the national security doctrine. Vis--vis the internal armed conflict, the dominant sectors of Guatemalan society adopted a counter-insurgency strategy that has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and other serious violations of human rights. The National University has been one of the institutions that has become a target of these violations, and academic freedom has been under attack due to the perception of the state regarding university participation in national politics.

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