Credit: Government of Guatemala

María Consuelo Porras


The philosopher and historian Hannah Arendt noted that some of the Nazi party’s most effective leaders were not fanatics or sociopaths, but rather bureaucrats who ruthlessly engaged in murder and corruption on behalf of the cause. Their calculated efficiency made the horror greater, and Arendt called this the “banality of evil.”

María Consuelo Porras, Guatemala’s Attorney General, is a sterling example of that same banality –– albeit involving lesser crimes –– and that’s why our judges have decided she is worthy of being named 2023 Person of the Year in Organized Crime and Corruption.

2023 Finalists for Person of the Year in Organized Crime and Corruption

We asked for nominations from readers, journalists, the Person of the Year judges, and others in the OCCRP global network. The finalists who received the most votes this year were:

  • President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan
  • Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina

Porras has acted as an efficient instrument used by the government to eviscerate the rule of law. She has overseen efforts to prevent president elect Bernardo Arévalo from assuming office, including suspending his political party and raiding the election commission. Arévalo has called it a “coup in slow motion.” The moves by Porras and her government allies have thrown Central America’s most populous country into political crisis, with protestors taking to the streets and blocking a main highway leading into the capital, Guatemala City.

"Porras is protecting what has been called in Guatemala ‘the pact of the corrupt,’ which involves bent businessmen, corrupt politicians, members of organized crime, and retired generals," said Maria Teresa Ronderos, director of the Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Periodística (CLIP), and one of OCCRP's Person of the Year judges. “She has brutally persecuted honest prosecutors, journalists, and activists, chasing them into exile and depriving the public of these crucial checks on authority."

Porras has been accused of failing to maintain independence from political interests, refusing to investigate and prosecute high level corruption cases, obstructing justice, and appointing people for their political standing rather than their competence or independence. She has overseen a massive purge of pro-democracy officials. Homes of former and present government officials are searched, individuals are hauled off to jail, while others have been forced to flee the country before they are arrested.

Porras has protected a right wing political elite who have made their fortunes from wholesale corruption and ties to narco cartels. These officials and influential business leaders have been implicated in large scale drug trafficking, people smuggling, and soliciting bribes from foreign companies.

The actions taken by Porras and her government allies have severely set back democratic progress in a country ruled for decades by a military junta, which prosecuted a war that killed about 200,000 people. Under military rule, extra-judicial killings, violence, and massive corruption became the norm.

In 2006, the United Nations established the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which was tasked with investigating “criminal groups believed to have infiltrated state institutions,” and oversaw the prosecution of some of the country’s worst offenders. That work came to a halt after the election of Jimmy Morales as president in 2015. His administration attacked the CICIG, finally shutting it down in 2019. Porras, who was appointed Attorney General in 2018, played a key role in ousting the CICIG.

Porras’s mission has been to ensure that Guatemala's corrupt leadership stays in power. The U.S. government sanctioned Porras in 2022, saying she had “repeatedly obstructed and undermined anti-corruption investigations in Guatemala to protect her political allies and gain undue political favor.” The European Union is also considering sanctions on those attempting to reverse the vote by Guatemalans.

Porras represents a type of actor that has not been recognized before by OCCRP’s Person of the Year award. She is not a colorful autocrat but a dry bureaucrat who carries out “her duty” –– which is to derail democracy and protect the kleptocratic elite.

She is not alone in that mission to enable a new breed of autocrats.

While people tend to think of failed states as run by an authoritarian strongman, the new autocrats don’t disavow democracy. Instead they undermine its framework, including elections, the judiciary, and state institutions. Key to that strategy are people like Porras –– government servants who corrupt the democratic process while maintaining the illusion of normality. These new autocrats cannot rule without this professional class of bureaucrats. Porras and her kind are the new banal faces of evil.

We recognize Porras and all her fellow members in the class of corrupt bureaucrats that enable the new autocrats with our 2023 award. Porras also has the distinction of being the first female to receive the award since OCCRP started the contest in 2012.

The Judges


María Teresa Ronderos

María Teresa Ronderos is a Colombian journalist and co-founder of the Latin American Center for Investigative Journalism (CLIP), which leads cross-border collaborative investigations that seek to hold power to account.


Rawan Damen

Rawan Damen is the executive director of Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ). She has more than 20 years of experience as a documentary filmmaker and a media consultant. She also worked for 10 years as a senior commissioner at the Al Jazeera Network.


Casey Michel

Casey Michel oversees the Human Rights Foundation (HRF)’s Combating Kleptocracy Program, focusing on transnational corruption, illicit finance, and the corruption that links dictators around the world.


Louise Shelley

Louise Shelley is an author and endowed professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. She is the founder and executive director of the university’s Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC).


Drew Sullivan

Investigative journalist and media development specialist. He is the co-founder and publisher of OCCRP and the founder of the Center for Investigative Reporting in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Paul Radu

Investigative journalist, co-founder of OCCRP, and the chief of innovation at OCCRP. He is also co-founder of RISE Project, a platform for investigative reporters in Romania.

Previous winners of OCCRP’s Person of the Year Award:


Yevgeny Prigozhin

2022 Winner: Yevgeny Prigozhin


Aleksandr Lukashenko

2021 Winner: Aleksandr Lukashenko


Jair Bolsonaro

2020 Winner: Jair Bolsonaro


Joseph Muscat

2019 Winner: Prime Minister of Malta


Danske Bank

2018 Winner: Bank That Enabled Money Laundering


Rodrigo Duterte

2017 Winner: President of Philippines


Nicolás Maduro

2016 Winner: President of Venezuela


Milo Djukanovic

2015 Winner: Prime Minister of Montenegro


Vladimir Putin

2014 Winner: President of Russia


Romanian Parliament

2013 Winner: Romanian Parliament


Ilham Aliyev

2012 Winner: President of Azerbaijan

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