Guatemala's Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz

Guatemala's Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz is being prematurely pushed out of office, an illustration of the ability of the country's elites to manipulate the judicial system.

On February 5, the Guatemalan Constitutional Court ruled Paz y Paz must step down from her post in May, seven months before her term is scheduled to end in December, reported Reuters. The decision was based on a technicality. Since she assumed the position early to complete the term of her predecessor, who was removed from office, the court ruled her four years were up in May 2014.

The decision followed a constitutional challenge brought by a wealthy businessman, Ricardo Sagastume, reported The New York Times. In an interview with El Periodico, Paz y Paz, who is appealing the court's decision, said, "Those who have been affected by the advance of justice are in a hurry to see me leave office."

Amnesty International has expressed concern over the decision, saying Paz y Paz helped the justice system make advances in uncovering both past and current human rights abuses.

InSight Crime Analysis

The efforts of Paz y Paz to combat crime and corruption in Guatemala have been praised by international bodies, and she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. According to Attorney General's Office figures cited by El Periodico, during her administration the country's impunity rate has fallen from 95 percent to 70 percent.

Her work combating the Mexican criminal group, the Zetas, as well as battles against corruption and human rights abusers in Guatemala have resulted in the convictions of high level organized crime figures, police, politicians, and military officers. She also successfully brought former dictator General Efrain Rios Montt to trial for genocide -- though the Constitutional Court later reversed the landmark sentence in that case.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profiles

While the attorney general's tactics for tackling organized crime have been credited with improving the effectiveness of Guatemala's justice system, they have also earned her powerful enemies. The country's entrenched elites now appear to be pulling strings in the country's highest court to engineer her departure.

Her exit raises concerns that ongoing investigations will come to a halt, along with progress against corruption and impunity. The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has similarly seen its mandate challenged as it has uncovered judicial corruption and spoken out against impunity.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

The power of Colombia's elites is founded upon one of the most unequal divisions of land in the world. As of the early 21st century, one percent of landowners own more than half the country's agricultural land.1  Under Spanish rule, Colombia's agriculture was organized on the hacienda...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras is currently one of the most violent countries on the planet that is not at war. The violence is carried out by transnational criminal organizations, local drug trafficking groups, gangs and corrupt security forces, among other actors. Violence is the focal point for the international aid...

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Organized crime and the violence associated with it is the preeminent problem in Latin America and the Caribbean today. The region is currently home to six of the most violent countries in the world that are not at war. Four of those countries are in Central America...

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

In a new report based on extensive field research, InSight Crime and the Asociacion para una Sociedad mas Justa have traced how Honduras' two largest gangs, the MS13 and the Barrio 18, are evolving, and how their current modus operandi has resulted in staggering levels of violence...

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Transnational organized crime likes opportunities and little resistance. Bolivia currently provides both and finds itself at the heart of a new criminal dynamic that threatens national and citizen security in this landlocked Andean nation.

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions...

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Faced with the government's failure to rein in the criminals, communities across crime-besieged Mexico have been trying for years to organize effective civic resistance. Michoacan's vigilantes express the most extreme response by society to date, but other efforts have been less belligerent. In battle-torn cities along the...

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

If Uruguay's proposal to regulate the production, sale and distribution of marijuana is properly implemented and overcomes political and economic hurdles, it could be the most important drug regulation experiment in decades.