Mariana Benitez Tiburcio, 2012


Languages spoken: Spanish, English
Thesis Advisor: Professor Miguel Basañez

Scholars have stressed the critical role of the legal system in the consolidation and sustainability of democracy. Acknowledgement of the need for urgent judicial reform in Latin American countries developed during the last two decades of the twentieth century. It is in this context that the transition of legal system from the inquisitorial criminal procedure (adopted by most Latin American countries after the colonial period) to the new adversarial system in Latin America took place. This thesis aims to analyze the delayed transition towards the adversarial system in Mexico, and particularly, the issues and challenges that this transformation entails. Through an examination of: 1) the factors and institutions involved, 2) the set of formal and informal rules, values and attitudes that influence, and have shaped, the behavior of the key actors of the Mexican criminal justice system, as well as 3) analyzing the Latin American experience in this field, this thesis concludes that a necessary condition for an effective implementation of the adversarial system in Mexico is the transformation of the Mexican legal culture. Therefore, this paper is an attempt to see how culture matters in the institution building process, and particularly in the case of Mexico, how the implementation of new values, rules and attitudes may lead the country in the right direction toward a truly profound transformation of one of the most important pillars of Mexican democracy.


Mariana Benitez Tiburcio is a Mexican lawyer and politician. She received her B.A. in Law Degree with highest honors from the Mexico Autonomous Institute of Technology (ITAM). She has also attended Executive Education programs at the Harvard Kennedy School, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE). Her work experience includes working as associate lawyer in a top constitutional law firm in Mexico City, Chief of Staff of the Domestic Affairs Committee at the Mexican Senate, Revolutionary Institutional Party´s national representative before the National Electoral Commission (IFE), and an alternate representative in Congress (2009-2012). Mariana has published many articles in books and magazines in the field of public security, criminal justice and electoral systems. In 2007 she co-wrote the book “The 2007 Electoral and Constitutional Reform. Antecedents and Context” published by the Mexican Senate. Her extracurricular activities include teaching at the ITAM Law School and the UNAM Law School, participating as political guest analyst in Channel 40 (Mexico), as well as acting as a founding member of Oaxaca-SI, a nonprofit public policy organization for the state of Oaxaca. She is currently Technical Secretary to the Chairman of the House of Representatives (Rep. Jesus Murillo Karam, PRI), in Mexico City, Mexico.