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ABSTRACT

This article focuses on the 1976 Guatemala earthquake disaster as a possible crisis trigger, in a relatively strict application of the critical juncture analytical approach. It expands to include the broader question of what conditions might cause disasters to trigger crises that open critical junctures for nation-states. The research concludes that the 1976 Guatemala disaster led to a high degree of community self-organizing and alliance-building across Guatemala, which the Guatemalan national security state at that time perceived as a fundamental crisis requiring a response. This reaction generated significant debate and policy conflict within the state; the resulting decision was massively repressive violence, with legacies that continue to this day. Another conclusion is that strictly applied, critical juncture analysis can untangle often very complicated disaster postimpact emergency, recovery, and reconstruction situations.