A new report in Americas Quarterly cites the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) as a major success story in the country’s fight against impunity.
In Guatemala, a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world, fewer than two percent of criminals are actually convicted. With such rampant corruption, it is difficult to see hope for the future of democratic processes in this Central American country. However, a new report in Americas Quarterly cites the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) as a major success story in the country’s fight against impunity. According to the report, the Commission’s activities have resulted in “hundreds of corrupt or ineffective police officers, prosecutors, judges, and military officials hav[ing] been investigated and dismissed.” Perhaps the most high profile victory was its involvement in charging former President Alfonso Portillo, accused of embezzling tens of millions of dollars worth of public funds. Once considered “untouchable,” Portillo now faces extradition to the United States. Despite these victories, the report concludes that the Commission is “at a critical point.” In March the US Department of State reported that “entire regions of Guatemala are now essentially under the control of drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), the most visible of which is the Mexican group known as the Zetas. Ultimately, the test for the government will be whether or not it adopts the CICIG’s recommended long-term structural reforms, including fostering a strong independent judicial branch. Unless these reforms offset the political influence enjoyed by criminal groups in the rural center of the country, Guatemala’s nascent democratic prospects could be severely limited.