[JURIST] Mexican Attorney General Arturo Chavez [official website, in Spanish], announced Friday that he is resigning his position [text, in Spanish] for urgent personal reasons. Chavez, appointed [JURIST report] just 18 months ago, resigned amid criticism over how he handled the position. Three weeks ago, a US diplomatic cable released through WikiLeaks [website] described Chavez’s appointment as “totally unexpected and politically inexplicable” [text]. The leaked cable continued:
Chavez has strong detractors within the Mexican human rights community because of his perceived failings in dealing with the murder of a large number of women in Ciudad Juarez, at a time when he was ratcheting up the fight against drug cartels. The killings gained international attention and leading human rights organizations at home and abroad charged Chavez with failing to energetically pursue the cases and even claimed that he had covered up evidence.
Chavez’s popularity was also affected by his failure to convict any of the public officials arrested [JURIST report] for their connection to the La Familia drug cartel [NPR backgrounder]. President Felipe Calderon [official website, in Spanish] nominated Marisela Morales [LAT report] to replace Chavez. Morales will be the first woman to serve as Mexico’s attorney general.
Mexico has struggled to combat the drug cartels’ influence on the government and the country as a whole. There have been more than 27,000 drug-related deaths since 2006 [STRATFOR report], and the violence has steadily escalated over the last few years. In April 2009, Mexico’s Senate passed a constitutional amendment [JURIST report] permitting the seizure of suspected drug traffickers’ property prior to their conviction. In 2008, a former Assistant Attorney General was arrested for receiving bribes, and Mexico’s prosecutor’s office admitted that it had been infiltrated [JURIST reports] by the drug cartels.