Ana María Méndez Dardón is the Director for Central America at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). At WOLA, she leads the program’s research and advocacy efforts on issues of rule of law, democratic strengthening, judicial independence, and civil and political rights.
Méndez Dardón has worked for decades to strengthen access to justice and promote human rights in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, with a range of civil society organizations including think-tanks and grassroots groups, United Nations, and government institutions. Her experience includes training processes for judges and public attorneys on criminal investigation for violence against women, working closely with governments to promote access to information, transparency, and anti-corruption initiatives.
In 2013, Méndez Dardón was appointed as under-secretary of strategic and private affairs to Guatemala’s first female attorney general, Claudia Paz y Paz. During this time, many high-impact transitional justice cases of gross human rights violations were prosecuted. In addition, she has litigated strategic human rights cases before international bodies. She served as special projects officer to the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and was in charge of the implementation of the UN-Peace Building Fund to transfer capacities from the CICIG to the national authorities in Guatemala, particularly by establishing clear investigative models, training methodologies, and human resources/administrative systems that meet international standards and certifications.
Méndez Dardón is also the co-author of Mujeres Ante los Tribunales de Fuero Especial, an examination of women who were illegally detained by military forces during the dictatorship of Efrain Rios Montt (Guatemala 1982-1983).