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dc.contributor.advisorPop Eleches, Grigore
dc.contributor.authorFreeman, Will
dc.contributor.otherPolitics Department
dc.description.abstractUnder what conditions do democracies end impunity for grand corruption? Existing research argues anti-corruption efforts succeed or fail due to a single set of causal factors at one moment in time. My dissertation challenges this assumption. Criminal law reform and turnover in prosecutorial leadership can create opportunities for prosecutors to launch investigations into grand corruption. However, to sustain anti-corruption efforts, prosecutors must keep their opponents divided and preempt the formation of a backlash coalition. I seek to establish the internal validity of my argument through a controlled comparison of Peru and Guatemala: two countries with long histories of impunity for corruption. Beginning in 2015, however, both countries’ prosecutors made rapid advances investigating and dismantling corruption networks involving presidents, congress, and the private sector. Relying on over 120 interviews and fieldwork in both countries, I show that reforms achieved in the context of two earlier windows of opportunity created conditions for these investigations: first, crime surges in the 2000s-early 2010s created electoral incentives for lawmakers to modernize criminal codes and update prosecutors’ investigative toolkits; second, judicial corruption scandals occasioned turnover inside the prosecutor’s office to attorneys general who developed skilled investigative teams. I then show that two factors combined to keep opponents of anti-corruption divided in Peru while in Guatemala they united: 1) inter-branch crises and 2) prosecutors’ strategic use of leniency and timing. In Peru, conflict between the executive branch and opposition-controlled congress escalated into crisis, with each branch struggling to disband the other. This imminent threat to political survival created incentives for presidents and congress to prioritize attacking one another over prosecutors. Peruvian prosecutors applied leniency to business leaders accused of corruption and refrained from investigating incumbent presidents until late in their terms, dissuading and delaying resistance from these two sets of actors, respectively. In Guatemala no inter-branch crisis occurred, making it easier for the president and congress to join forces. Guatemalan prosecutors and their advisors from the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) did not strategically apply leniency or timing, inciting the opposition of the president and private sector.
dc.publisherPrinceton, NJ : Princeton University
dc.subjectRule of law
dc.subject.classificationPolitical science
dc.subject.classificationLatin American studies
dc.titleEnding Impunity: the Prosecution of Grand Corruption in Latin America
dc.typeAcademic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Appears in Collections:Politics

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