West Germany, Guatemala, and the Transnational Dynamics of Cold War Police Assistance

Markus-Michael Müller, Fabian Bennewitz

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


This article assesses the Federal Republic of Germany’s (FRG) police-building program for Guatemala (1986-1991). In drawing on interviews, new archival evidence collected in Germany, Guatemala and the United States, as well as by applying analytical insights from relationalist sociological International Relations scholarship on transnational fields, we demonstrate that the FRG’s police-building program was shaped by the contingent convergence of international and domestic political context conditions in Germany and Guatemala, which were mediated by the agency of the involved Guatemalan actors. Resulting interrelations, we argue, determined the project’s trajectory, particularly as the agency of Guatemalan actors required ongoing German adaptation efforts and program revisions, which, in the end pushed the program “off track.”
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cold War Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Global Cold War, West Germany, Guatemala, Police-assistance, Transnational Fields

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