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Corruption has grown strongly in Argentina under President Alberto Fernandez and his vice president Cristina Kirchner. (Photo: Argentine Congress)
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Trade Talk

Latin America: Corruption Worsens


Argentina worsens most; Uruguay, Dominican Republic, Paraguay improve most.

BY LATINVEX STAFF

Corruption in Latin America has worsened, according to a Latinvex analysis of the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) from Germany-based Transparency International.

Nine countries in the region saw a deterioration, compared with six the year before. Argentina saw the worst decline in its score, followed by Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Peru. Cuba, Honduras and Venezuela also saw declines.

The deterioration in Argentina under President Alberto Fernandez stands in contrast to his predecessor Mauricio Macri, who was able to dramatically boost transparency. (See this link).

On the opposite end are Uruguay, the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Costa Rica and  Panama, which improved their scores.

"Throughout 2021, the region witnessed serious attacks on freedoms of speech, the press and association, which are fundamental civil and political rights needed to build healthy democracies free from corruption,” Transparency said. “In countries like Brazil (38), Venezuela (14), El Salvador (34) and Guatemala (25), governments used intimidation, defamation, fake news and direct attacks against civil society organisations, journalists and activists – including those fighting corruption – as a way to discredit and silence critics.”

Meanwhile, presidents in the region – such as Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Nayib Bukele in El Salvador – turned the fight against corruption into a campaign rallying cry, in an attempt to win over an electorate disillusioned with traditional politics, tired of corruption and determined to see their human rights upheld.

“Contrary to their own promises, these populist figures have made no progress in controlling corruption but instead have deployed anti-democratic and regressive measures that violate people’s rights,” the German group said.

And with a score of 31, Mexico has failed to increase its score on the 2021 CPI.

“Despite the president’s strong anti-corruption rhetoric, major corruption cases in the

 

Latin America Corruption

Ranked by transparency rank

LA Rk

Gl Rk

Country

Score

Ch

1

18

Uruguay

73

2

2

27

Chile

67

3

39

Costa Rica

58

1

4

64

Cuba

46

-1

5

87

Colombia

39

6

96

Argentina

38

-4

6

96

Brazil

38

8

105

Ecuador

36

-3

8

105

Peru

36

-2

8

105

Panama

36

1

11

115

El Salvador

34

-2

12

124

Mexico

31

12

128

Bolivia

30

-1

12

128

Dom. Rep.

30

2

12

128

Paraguay

30

2

16

150

Guatemala

25

17

157

Honduras

23

-1

18

164

Nicaragua

20

-2

19

177

Venezuela

14

-1

Average

37.1

-0.4

LA Rk=Latin America rank

Gl Rk=Global rank

Ch: Change in score from 2020 index

Sources: Transparency International, 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index;

Latinvex (LatAm rank, changes)

 

 

2021 CPI.

“Despite the president’s strong anti-corruption rhetoric, major corruption cases in the country have gone unpunished,” Transparency points out. “The lack of recovered assets and the growing number of scandals involving close associates of the president partly explain Mexico’s result. Furthermore, there has been recent criticism over the political and electoral use of the Attorney General’s Office – which, despite its formal autonomy, is not perceived as independent.”

Uruguay once again leads the way in transparency in Latin America. Its score is higher than countries like the US.

“This shows that strong and stable democratic institutions, an independent judiciary and the protection of basic rights are vital in preventing corruption from permeating the State,” Transparency says. “Uruguay’s strong institutions have also allowed the country to navigate the pandemic effectively, transparently and with the support of its population, unlike most countries in the region.”

The Dominican Republic scores 30 this year and leaves behind its lowest ratings obtained in 2019 and 2020.

“A stronger Public Prosecutor’s Office and Chamber of Accounts, along with the conviction and imprisonment of powerful political figures, have helped to improve perceptions of corruption,” Transparency says. “However, public institutions remain fragile. The country needs to strengthen the transparency, integrity and accountability of these institutions to bring about meaningful change. Otherwise, any progress made will quickly be lost.”

Latinvex named Dominican President Luis Abinader Leader of the Year last year, in part for his moves to make the Public Prosecutor’s Office independent and fight corruption in the Caribbean country.

 

© Copyright Latinvex

 

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