A Barometer To Measure Corruption In Latin America

The perception of corruption in Latin America is very high, with Venezuela in the lead.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Generation Y, Havana, 2 October 2019 — They smile, drink a few drinks and bills also slip from hand to hand as they exchange favors, alliances, offer bidding privileges and move local political waters. The scene could be located in any part of Latin America, a continent that is still gripped by corrupt practices, poor management of public funds and the buying of votes.

The tenth edition of the Global Corruption Barometer (BGC) report, prepared by the organization Transparency International, offers a thorough X-ray of this cancer that sickens institutions, businesses and everyday life. The report acknowledges that in the “last five years, great progress has been made” and cites as an example the investigation of the Lava Jato (Carwash) operation in Brazil, but also reveals that the majority of citizens think that their governments “do not do enough to address corruption.”

Among the citizens of the 18 countries of the continent consulted, Venezuelans are in the lead of those who think that corruption has increased in the last 12 month – 87% think so – followed by 66% of Dominicans and 65% of Peruvians; 52% of Colombians also share that opinion, as do 37% of the citizens of Barbados.

In addition, the report warns of the harmful and disproportionate effects that corrupt practices have on vulnerable sectors of society, especially women. Many women “are forced to perform sexual favors in exchange for obtaining public services, such as those related to healthcare and education. This practice is known as sexual extortion or ‘sextorsion’,” emphasizes the text, a situation that until now had not been included in these annual reports but whose incidence has led to its disclosure with greater force.

Of the Latin Americans who participated in these surveys, 21% also claim that most or all people linked to the press are corrupt. If those who must use the pages of newspaper and the microphones of television or radio to denounce the dirtiness of power have been bought to silence or distort those facts, impunity is even greater.

Luckily, this concomitance between power and the press, between pen and perks does not reach all reporters or media. Let us not forget that many cases of denunciation of bribes, coimas, and corruption have been known first through the newspapers and microphones of television or radio, which have forced the opening of judicial investigations and sent those involved behind bars. But there is still more to do.

What would Latin American citizens answer if they were asked about their own actions, on a daily basis, against these practices? In addition to pointing to governments, institutions, non-governmental organizations and journalists as part of this disintegration, would they be willing to recognize their own role in such an ominous practice? It doesn’t matter if it bears a toga, military ranks, the businessman’s tie, the reporter’s tape recorder or the simple overalls of a worker. We must face this monster with a thousand heads, every minute and with awareness.


This text was originally published in the Deutsche Welle for Latin America.

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