Latin America’s Corruption Landscape Unchanged, Despite Political Pledges

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Latin America’s most corrupt countries have shown little progress in global rankings in 2013, despite claims by some of the worst performers that they are tackling the problem.

The Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, released on December 3 by the NGO Transparency International, saw Haiti become the worst performer in Latin America and the Caribbean, despite receiving the same corruption score and slightly improving its placement in the world rankings compared to last year — to 163rd out of 177 countries.

Venezuela, Paraguay and Honduras remained the three worst-ranking mainland Latin American countries. Venezuela rose five places to 160th, but with a barely significant improvement on its 2012 score, while Paraguay remained in 150th place with a slightly worse score compared to 2012. Honduras dropped seven places to 140th.

At the other end of the spectrum, Uruguay (19th) edged ahead of Chile (22nd) as the region’s least corrupt country, while Costa Rica (49th) and Brazil (72nd) remained in third and fourth place, respectively, for mainland Latin America.

InSight Crime Analysis

All three of mainland Latin America’s worst performers have seen new presidents elected over the past year. Though President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela and President Horacio Cartes in Paraguay have pledged to tackle the problem of corruption, their promises have thus far led to little in the way of results. Meanwhile, Honduras’ new president-elect, Juan Orlando Hernandez, has faced opposition claims his recent election victory itself was fraudulent.

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

One shortfall of these statistics is that they can fail to reflect individual cases. Despite Uruguay’s and Chile’s statuses as the least corrupt countries in Latin America, recent arrests in Chile showed that even one of the region’s most trusted nations is not immune to criminal activity at the highest levels of its police force.

A survey published by Transparency International earlier this year found that people in Latin America most commonly pinpointed political parties, police or the government and legislature as the most corrupt entities in their countries. Honduras’ police force is particularly notorious for its corrupt nature, with one official claiming in 2011 that up to 40 percent of the force had organized crime ties.

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