My degree in Law was obtained in Lima in 1967 but a scholarship allowed me to discover the following year a complete new approach to legal matters at the University of Wisconsin Law School. I worked as a law professor between 1967 and 1976 but since 1977 I have been working as a social science researcher. My other field of work has been writing op-ed pieces—on social and political affairs—, a field that I decided to leave a few years ago after some decades of producing columns for daily newspapers and weekly magazines on a regular basis.

In 1977, I founded in Lima the Centro de Estudios de Derecho y Sociedad where I was director and did research for ten years. In 1986 Peru—my original country—was going through a very difficult period and I decided to leave the country. Since then I have lived in Costa Rica, Argentina, Guatemala, and Mexico before settling with my wife in Spain.

My professional work has been divided between “thinking” and “doing.” As a university teacher my responsibility is to think, to read and write, and, of course, to teach. But at the same time on several occasions I have not been able to resist the temptations of an opportunity to put into practice ideas I learned or conceived. Mostly working as a consultant, experience has nurtured my academic reflections.

Interest and concern about justice systems was initiated in 1976, when I was required to organize an ambitious diagnosis of the Peruvian justice administration. Since then I worked on the subject in several Latin American countries in both an academic and a practitioner approach. My purpose at the Wilson Center is to arrive to some conclusions by producing a book that condenses in simple words what I learned about what is possible to expect from justice change in Latin America.


Baccalaureate in Law (1975), Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú; Doctor in Law (1975), Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú  

Project Summary

My main objective is to produce a book in English—and subsequently a Spanish version—about Latin American justice and the impossibility of achieving its complete overhaul, despite the resources spent from national sources and made available through loans by the International Financial Institutions, and grants made by various aid agencies. In addition to this primaryobjective, I shall also highlight what specific changes may be written for experts in this field or indeed academics, but rather decision-makers and opinion leaders.

Insufficient research has prevented so far to provide an adequate response to interrogations like the following:
Why is justice reform so difficult in the region? Where does resistance stem from and how much of it can be overcome? What can be realistically expected of a process of improvement of the justice provided by the State apparatus? Who are the actors that can lead such a process? What could be a useful role for international participation in the process?

The central hypothesis of the project is that an ambitious justice reform is not possible in the foreseeable future and consequently a new approach to the subject is needed. For this purpose, the most important questions are: what feasible changes can be realistically introduced, and what conditions are required for this to happen.

Major Publications

  • Jueces, justicia y poder en el Perú (CEDYS, 1982).
  • “When the Military dreams", in: Cynthia McClintock and Abraham F. Lowenthal, eds., The Peruvian Experiment Reconsidered (Princeton University Press, 1983).
  • "The leftist angels", in: Scott Mainwaring and Alexander Wilde, eds., The Progressive Church in Latin America (University of Notre Dame Press, 1989).
  • "Judicial Reform and Civil Society", in: Edmundo Jarquín and Fernando Carrillo, eds., Justice Delayed. Judicial Reform in Latin America (Inter-American Development Bank, 1998).
  • Las decisiones judiciales en Guatemala (MINUGUA, 2000).
  • Cómo sentencian los jueces del Distrito Federal en materia penal  (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2006).
  • “Criminal Process Reform and Citizen Security,“ in Marcelo Bergman and Laurence Whitehead (eds.), Criminality, Public Security, and the Challenge to Democracy in Latin America (Notre Dame University Press, 2009).
  • La producción judicial en Ecuador (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2011).