With corruption scandals, popular protests and the revelations in the Panama Papers, it’s easy to think that corruption in Latin America has suddenly increased. It hasn’t, but Latin American institutions are better prepared to deal with the fallout.
The real threat from the December 3 constitutional amendments in Ecuador isn’t the possibility of indefinite re-election for President Correa, it’s the way they were approved and their implications for freedom of expression.
Donald Trump was right on one thing: corruption in Mexico and Latin America is unbelievable. As the series of scandals from Chile to Brazil to Mexico have revealed, the region still has a corruption problem that not only reduces the effectiveness of government but also increases the economic insecurity of its citizens. And those citizens are fed up.
When journalists are intimidated into self-censorship and governments distort or hide data on violence, the real victim is a responsible debate on security and crime. Sadly, that’s what’s happening in El Salvador and Honduras.
Rather than focusing old time notions of levels of economic and military aid or large inspiring policy declarations, analysts and policymakers should focus their attention where policy and its return (i.e. influence) is most impactful—communication, contact and exchange that improve the daily lives of Latin American and Caribbean citizens.
The effectiveness and fate of President Barack Obama’s December 17, 2014, executive actions to alter elements of the U.S. embargo on Cuba will ultimately depend on how the regulations are written and interpreted in the Treasury and Commerce departments. Let’s hope the regulators in those departments follow the spirit of the President’s actions.