The Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) in a report on Guatemala, concluded:

"Economic and social rights are the unfulfilled agenda of Guatemala’s post-conflict transition. While the return to democracy and the end of conflict have made it possible for many Guatemalans to exercise their right to freedom of expression and to periodically elect their representatives, the right to an adequate and dignified standard of living is still far from being universally enjoyed. This is dramatically illustrated by alarming levels of child malnutrition, maternal death and youth illiteracy, perhaps the most disquieting manifestations of social injustice and exclusion in Guatemala. That the democratic transition has not resulted in significant progress in the fulfilment of economic and social rights is due, in large part, to the vision of the State that has dominated policymaking in recent decades. Guatemala has become a weak State that has increasingly ceded more space to private markets, meanwhile transforming education, health and food into privileges for those who can afford them, rather than upholding them as universal rights, and treating people as consumers rather than rights-holding citizens.

Guatemala’s dismal economic and social rights outcomes are evidence that the fulfilment of these rights cannot be left exclusively in the hands of the market, nor does it automatically result from increased economic growth. It requires an active role by the State in harnessing the benefits of the economy toward the goals of progressive realisation, universality and equality in rights. Consolidating democracy implies adjusting public policy, in particular fiscal policy, to a new conception of the state and the citizen as duty-bearers and rights-holders, respectively. The global economic crisis, whose impact is all too evident in Guatemala, has created an opportunity to debate and build consensus on the fiscal policy necessary to improve democratic governance in the country, as well as around the vision of the state that underpins it: one that respects, protects and fulfils the rights of all citizens or a minimal state that is captive to the interests of a privileged few."

Source: Center for Economic and Social Rights (2009) Rights or Privileges - Executive Summary: p.20