In just over two years, Attorney General Paz y Paz’s office has cut down impunity by more than 25 percent, giving the public ministry clout to face down attempts to quash prosecution efforts.
• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, centralamericanpolitics.blogspot.com. The views expressed are the author's own.
Guatemala's Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz continues to get some great international press. I imagine that this just infuriates President Otto Perez Molina, CACIF, and other members of the economic and political elite [in Guatemala]. They still believe that Ms. Paz y Paz is a leftist out to win in the courts what she and others failed to win on the battlefield.
In addition to the Journeyman Pictures video here (well worth fifteen minutes of your day), Paz y Paz also received some good press in The Guardian in an article by Mark Tran on Guatemala: one woman's campaign against violent crime and corruption. Don't make fun of his math – 5,632 [murders] is not down from 5,618 murders, but he is right. Homicides have been decreasing over the last few years even though the murder rate might increase a bit this year. I'm also not sure that evidence implicating President Otto Perez Molina in civil war atrocities led to the annulment of the trial. That is more Allan Nairn pumping the importance of his testimony rather than anything verifiable. A finding of genocide led various actors to mobilize and reverse the outcome.
It's always nice to hear a positive story about the humble Paz y Paz, but her courage is old news. What we really want and need to hear more about is whether the [Attorney General's] office will/can continue its good work when she leave her post at the end of next year. Have there been institutional changes that will continue once she moves on? If not, what needs to be done between today and next December, other than select an excellent Attorney General, to ensure that the office continues and improves upon Paz y Paz's tremendous work? It is going to be tough to improve upon the work of someone who is a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Heads are going to explode, figuratively speaking, if Paz y Paz joins Rigoberta Menchu as a Nobel Peace Prize winner from Guatemala.
– Mike Allison is an associate professor in the Political Science Department and a member of the Latin American and Women's Studies Department at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. You can follow his Central American Politics blog here.