Perceptions of corruption in Latin America worsen

Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 shows that, despite some progress, Latin America continues to experienceserious difficulties in fighting corruption. Español

Parker Asmann
8 March 2018

Image: InSightCrime. All rights reserved.

Article originally published in Insight Crime. Read the original article here.

Many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to be perceived as some of the most corrupt in the world, according to Transparency International’s latest edition of the Corruption Perceptions Index, published on February 21.

Using a scale of 0 to 100, in which the highest scores represent low levels of corruption, the index ranks 180 countries around the world for their "levels of perception of corruption in the public sector, according to experts and businessmen".

According to this year’s Index, the perception of corruption has worsened in 14 of the 30 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The study points out that Venezuela and Haiti are, once again, the two countries with the highest levels of perception of corruption in the region, while Uruguay and Barbados stand at the other end of the scale.

According to this year’s Index, the perception of corruption has worsened in 14 of the 30 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where the study was carried out, while it has improved in 11 countries, and remained stable in five.

The study indicates that some progress has been made in the region in terms of laws and institutions that "promote transparency and accountability". It also highlights progress in several prominent cases, including the numerous corruption investigations related to the transnational scandal of the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht and the investigations of business elites and corrupt politicians carried out by the UN supported International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

However, the study reveals that, in general, the perception of corruption in the region has not changed significantly and emphasizes that "global policies to address the historical and structural causes of corruption throughout the region" are still non-existent.

Transparency International’s Index notes that countries in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to experience serious difficulties in fighting corruption and that some of the most successful anti-corruption programs in the region have provoked strong reactions from the elites.

It comes as no surprise that Venezuela, which is getting bad marks since 2014, has been perceived in 2017, once again, as the country with the highest levels of corruption in Latin America. As the country’s political, social and economic crises unfold and intensify, corruption is likely to persist as long as President Nicolás Maduro continues to turn a blind eye to it and surrounds himself with corrupt elites so as to keep control of the situation.

The Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) also score badly in the Index. This is particularly worrying, given the presence of anti-corruption agencies such as the CICIG in Guatemala and the Support Mission against Corruption and Impunity (MACCIH) in Honduras. The elites in both countries have done everything in their power to undermine and discourage these commissions’ investigations, and the International Transparency Index duly registers that the population has realized and is well aware of this.

It should be noted that a previous report published by Transparency International in October 2017 pointed out that citizens in the whole region are convinced that they can have an impact on the fight against widespread corruption, despite the fact that they believe that corruption, in fact, is getting worse.

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