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Transparency International: Corruption Remains Prevalent in Latin America

By: Ana Lía Turi Gargano - Dec 4, 2013, 1:07 pm

EspañolTransparency International published its Corruption Perceptions Index on Tuesday, and it doesn’t bode well for most of the world, particularly Latin America. It finds high levels of corruption in a majority of the 177 nations included, with more than two thirds of the globe in the 0-50 category (dark orange and red) — “indicating a serious corruption problem” (zero denotes the highest level of corruption and 100 the lowest).

Transparency International had support from regional and national NGO‘s, and combined they surveyed 114,000 people. Each participant gave his points of view and experiences regarding levels of structure and transparency in the most relevant state institutions: political parties, the executive branch, legislative and judicial Power, and the police, among others.

The authors emphasize the need for their work: “the 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index serves as a reminder that the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery continue to destroy societies worldwide.” On a global level, they categorize Denmark and New Zealand as very clean (91/100) and top of the list, while North Korea, Afghanistan, and Somalia got the lowest scores.

In Latin America, Uruguay is the country with the best score, ranking 19th and becoming the leader of the region in terms of transparency. Chile is next, in 22nd place, although its score worsened slightly, from 72 to 71. Venezuela, on the other hand, is the country with the lowest ranking in the region. It shares 160th position with Cambodia and Eritrea, and it just fails to beat Haiti, at 163rd, for worst on the continent. Paraguay is next worst at 150th, alongside Guinea and Kyrgyzstan.

RankCountryScore
160Venezuela20
150Paraguay24
140Honduras26
136Guyana27
127Nicaragua28
123Guatemala29
123Dominican Republic29
106Mexico34
106Bolivia34
106Argentina34
102Panama35
102Ecuador35
94Suriname36
94Colombia36
83Peru38
83El Salvador38
72Brazil42
63Cuba46
49Costa Rica53
33Puerto Rico62
22Chile71
19Uruguay73

Latin-American states tended towards less transparency — with a majority ranking out of the top 100 countries — and they compare poorly to Canada’s ninth place and the United States in 19th. The report highlights Latin America’s challenges of weak institutions (visible with unstable constitutions), organized crime and poor security, and inequality. Currently, Latin America’s level of crime and corruption is similar to what one might expect in regions suffering from other types of conflicts, such as wars.

According to survey participants in the region, the institutions most affected by corruption levels are political parties, the legislative and judicial branches, and the police. Political parties, though, come out as the most corrupt in a majority of the countries analyzed in the region.

Despite many new transparency and anti-corruption regulations that states have agreed to comply with, the effect appears to have been minimal. PanAm Post columnist Carlos Sabino noted in his latest article that unless the state’s scope of action is restrained, and most importantly, society decides to condemn and control corruption, we’ll continue trusting legislative solutions that — even if they appear prudent on paper — fail in practice.

Translated by Marcela Estrada.

Ana Lía Turi Gargano

Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ana Lia Turi is involved in the drafting of the Argentina Elections website. She also collaborates on projects with the International Cooperation Argentinean Network, Imara Foundation, and the Argentinean Business University (UADE). Follow her @AnitaTuri.