Balancing Justice with Mercy: Two Approaches to Transitional Justice in Latin America




Voth, Rebecca

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In Latin America’s third wave of democracy the region faces challenges with regard to its dark past left behind by abusive authoritarian leaders. Human rights abuse can hinder a nation’s ability to develop strong democratic institutions and discourage popular participation in government. This thesis compares two approaches that respond to past human rights abuses and focus on the aspects of justice and mercy respectively. I argue that justice, represented by human rights prosecutions, ought to be complementary to mercy, represented by the Christian creative peace process, and that these transitional measures working concurrently can strengthen democracy. My inquiry proceeds with an examination of the recent dramatic increase of human rights trials in the region and compares this approach to that of the Christian creative peace process, using Guatemala as a case study. Through this inquiry, I hope to inspire a sense of hope about the future of democratic institutions in Latin American and prove that both justice and mercy play a vital role in the transitional process.



Latin America, Creative Peace Process, Guatemala, Ríos Montt, Human Rights Prosecutions