Latin America

International Justice Rankles In Guatemala

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The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, a UN-backed investigative team, has achieved much success in its three-year effort to reduce vigilante justice in that country. This week, however, a former vice president of Guatemala accused the commission of "going out of control" after it filed charges against former officials from his administration.


In neighboring Guatemala, the murder rate more than triples that of Mexico, and drug gangs and other criminals control nearly half the territory. A U.N.-backed team of cops and prosecutors - the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala - was set up three years ago to fight organized crime and dismantle illegal security groups.

It has successfully put narco gang members and drug cartel enforcers behind bars, as well as some senior government officials.

Now, the independent team faces another obstacle: Resistance from the Guatemalan political and business elite, who fear that it has been rocking the boat too much.

A former vice president of Guatemala, Eduardo Stein, accused the commission of going out of control, after it filed charges against top officials from his administration, alleging they were responsible for the premeditated killing of prison inmates.

Stein accused the commission of overstepping its mandate and even operating outside the law; allegations that team officials deny.

It is touching people we never expected it to touch, one Guatemalan newspaper editor said of the commission, and the problem is we live in a society where some people are untouchable.

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