Today we've witnessed a surge of protest and workplace walk-outs across Guatemala in response to what many people see as the covert autocracy's open interference in the supposedly free electoral process.
In The Revenge of Power Moisés Naím draws our attention to a new generation of what he refers to as 3P Autocrats, predominantly democratically-elected leaders who deploy Populism, Polarisation and Post-truth in order to be able to operate between the cracks of constitutional legality.
I think this only partially covers what has been happening here.
Populism in Central America has long been complemented with a form of clientism, whereby key demographics from amongst the relatively disadvantaged are recruited as a counter-weight to the educated middle-classes who might otherwise becomes drivers of radical readjustments.
I think what we actually have here is a kind of narcissistic-sociopathic state.
Like equivalents at the level of individual pathology, this is a coterie of government actors content to lie dormant most of the time, or at least wear a more or less functional mask of unthreatening congeniality and benevolence until, that is, the day that they are triggered.
In most cases this involves some sort of insufferable rejection (i.e. so many unexpected votes for Movimiento Semilla).
The narcissistic-sociopath state or NSS then erupts...the mask comes off and its behaviour turns overtly abusive and ultimately destructive, and not just to the designated victims, for the NSS abandons all restraint and concern for consequences which can eventually lead to its own undoing.
Having spent so much time hiding in plain sight, pretending to be decent and law-abiding, for the NSS, the so-called 'technical coup d'etat' option comes with a risk of complete de-legitimisation — a problem that old school dictators didn't really have to worry about as their authority came from the end of their boot and little else.
One must not forget that even when the mask is on, the NSS is an abuser. It's just that many people choose not to recognise and call out the signs.