Rachel Schwartz

PhD Candidate in Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Chapter Member: Wisconsin SSN
Areas of Expertise:

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About Rachel

Schwartz’s academic research focuses on institution-building and corruption, with a regional focus on Central America. She has also worked on U.S.-Latin American relations, managing programs on security and migration in Central America and Mexico and Congressional outreach at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based policy forum. 


In the News

"Why are so Many Children Coming to the U.S. from Central America in the First Place?," Rachel Schwartz, Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, June 29, 2018.
"Is Russia Interfering in Guatemala's Anti-Corruption Commission? The Real Story Might Surprise You," Rachel Schwartz, Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, May 9, 2018.
"Guatemala's President Tried to Expel the U.N. Commissioner Who Announced He was under Investigation," Rachel Schwartz, Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, September 6, 2017.
"Repression, Resistance, and Indigenous Rights in Guatemala," Rachel Schwartz (with Anita Isaacs), Americas Quarterly, Winter 2013.
"Democracy in Progress: El Salvador’s Unfinished Transition," Rachel Schwartz (with Michael Shifter), World Politics Review, September 25, 2012.
"Central America Moves toward a Truly Regional Stance on Drugs," Rachel Schwartz, World Politics Review, March 23, 2012.


"What Drives Violence against Civilians in Civil War? Evidence from Guatemala's Conflict Archives" (with Scott Straus). Journal of Peace Research 55, no. 2 (2018): 222-235.

Identifies and explicates four plausible mechanisms that explain why armed groups would target, for strategic purposes, civilians in war. Finds that state actors most commonly described the civilian population as loyal to rebel forces; violence against civilians was a means to weaken the insurgency.Illustrates how a mechanism-centered approach based on process tracing of conflict archives can help uncover logics underlying civilian killing

"From Reconciliation to Rule of Law: The Shifting Landscape of International Transitional Justice Assistance in Guatemala" (with Anita Isaacs), in Transitional Justice, International Assistance, and Civil Society: Missed Connections, edited by Paige Arthur and Christalla Yakinthou (Cambridge University Press, 2018), 27-51.

Examines how international assistance for transitional justice efforts in Guatemala has influenced civil society and peacebuilding. Argues that international donor funding has had mixed effects, both strengthening civil society cooperation and forcing local groups to reshape their objectives to align with the priorities of the international community.

"What Drives Escalation in Atrocity Violence? Evidence from Guatemala," (with Scott Straus), American Political Science Association, September 2015.

Uses declassified military plans and communications to examine what accounts for the dramatic escalation and de-escalation of violence within Guatemala’s armed conflict (1960-1996).