Corruption in Latin America isn’t anything new. In Brazil, former Presidents Luis Ignacio Lula de Silva and Dilma Rousseff were charged with forming a criminal organization, current President Michel Temer is accused of taking bribes, and about 40 percent of Brazil’s Congress is being investigated over criminal charges. And more recently in Guatemala, President Jimmy Morales declared Ivan Velásquez, head of UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), persona non grata, after the CICIG announced they’d seek to strip Morales of his presidential immunity over failure to report anonymous campaign contributions. These are just two examples from a region plagued by corruption.
According to Transparency International’s Index of Corruption Perceptions (CPI)—an index that measures the severity of corruption in a country on a scale from 0 (very corrupt) to 100 (very clean), with any score below a 50 indicating a government is failing at tackling corruption—the regional average for the Americas is 44 points. Venezuela, ranked as the most corrupt country in Latin America, occupying the 166th place out of 176, only surpassed by a handful of countries in Africa and the Middle East. The only countries in the region that scored above a 50 were: Costa Rica, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Chile, the Bahamas and Uruguay.
One of the many problems Latin America faces is the normalization of the corruption and impunity, which slowly weakens the judiciary and further diminishes the trust between the state and its citizens. Corruption also has a way of infiltrating into multiple sectors, like education, further embedding itself in government. By and large, anti-corruption efforts haven’t been working. That’s why, through its Working Group on Inter-American Relations, Global Americans, with the help of more than 50 business leaders, former policymakers, and scholars from across the region, aims to use past successes and failures as a guide to create a forward leaning agenda on anti-corruption in Latin America.