Nicaragua, Honduras and Venezuela are the most corrupt countries in Latin America, according to the latest report by Transparency International

(CNN Spanish) — Several Latin American countries have recently become fertile ground for criminal networks and human rights abuses. This phenomenon is what placed Nicaragua, Honduras and Venezuela as the most corrupt countries in the region in 2022, according to the latest report from Transparency International, published this Tuesday.

“The lack of bold and firm action to combat corruption and strengthen public institutions is fueling organized criminal activity, undermining democracy and human rights, and threatening the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” says the Americas report, where criminal activities often transcend to public institutions.

Just as Uruguay and Canada have the highest indices on the continent —both with 74 points—, followed by the United States with 69, the countries with the worst corruption indices are Venezuela (14 points), Haiti (17 points) and Nicaragua (19 points). points). Honduras and Guatemala are also among the most corrupt.

Chile also stands out among the least corrupt with a score of 67 points.

Transparency International built the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) classifying 180 countries and territories, according to their perceptions of the level of corruption in the public sector, using a scale from zero (very corrupt) to 100 (of very low corruption).

Latin America has high levels of corruption, according to a study 1:32

“Weak and unaccountable institutions in Latin America have created fertile ground for organized criminal networks to flourish, fueling violence and insecurity,” explains the report on what is happening in the region. In addition, it mentions that, in many countries, officials and police officers collaborate with criminal gangs or accept bribes.

“In Honduras (23 points), Guatemala (24) and Peru (36), the evidence suggests that organized criminals exert strong influence over candidates and politicians, finance electoral campaigns or even run for public office,” says Transparency International .

This situation means that women, girls and migrants are often victims of trafficking and “sextortion” networks, which “generally include public officials”. “In the Amazon, drug trafficking has brought violence to the ancestral territories of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples, which coincide with critical areas of high biodiversity,” she says.

In 2021, the report adds, Latin American countries registered the highest number of murders of human rights defenders. Colombia (39 points) had the highest number of murders of human rights defenders with 138, followed by 42 in Mexico (31 points) and 27 in Brazil (38 points).

Another of the phenomena analyzed is that, to deal with organized crime and gang violence, some governments took measures that led to the concentration of power, reducing transparency and accountability, and posing serious threats to human rights. and basic freedoms. For example, the declaration of the state of emergency during 2022 in countries such as El Salvador (33), Ecuador (36) and Honduras (23) granted extraordinary powers to the Executive Power to suspend constitutional guarantees.

Governments beset by corruption lack the capacity to protect people and, in turn, public discontent in such contexts is more likely to escalate into violence. This is the case of Brazil, where “the combination of corruption, authoritarianism and economic slowdown has turned out to be especially volatile.”

Supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro hold a demonstration on the Esplanada dos Ministerios, in Brasilia. (EVARISTO SA/AFP via Getty Images)

“President Jair Bolsonaro’s tenure was marked by the dismantling of anti-corruption frameworks, the use of corrupt maneuvers to favor political allies and garner political support in the legislature, misinformation and attacks on civic space. In January, after the defeat of Bolsonaro as a candidate for re-election, his supporters launched a violent attack against Parliament, the Supreme Court and the presidential palace, put the lives of police officers and journalists at risk, and vandalized buildings, in order to disrupt the peaceful transition from power to recently elected president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva,” the report states.

global conclusions

The Global Peace Index is another parameter that revealed that the world is becoming a less peaceful place. “There is an obvious link between this violence and corruption: the countries that have the lowest scores on this index also have very low CPI scores,” the report states.

Delia Ferreira Rubio, president of Transparency International, explained that governments besieged by corruption lack the capacity to protect people: “Governments have not managed, collectively, to counteract this phenomenon and, with this, they exacerbate the increase in violence and conflict seen today, which poses dangers to people in all parts of the world.

Another of the most relevant data from the report at a global level is that there has been little progress against corruption: 95% of countries have only made minimal or no progress since 2017.

In 43 of the countries studied, the global CPI average remains unchanged, for the 11th consecutive year, and more than two-thirds of the countries have a serious corruption problem and a score below 50.

Protests in Sudan.

Protests in Sudan.

Honduras and Nicaragua are among the ten countries that registered a significant decline in CPI scores since 2017; while Guatemala (24 points) is part of a group of 26 countries that fell to historic lows in the ranking.

Daniel Eriksson, executive director of Transparency International, highlighted, however, an optimistic fact, noting that “leaders can fight corruption and promote peace at the same time.

“Governments must open the spaces to involve the public in decision-making, from activists and business people to marginalized communities and youth groups. In democratic societies, people can raise their voices to help eradicate corruption and demand a safer world for all of us,” he said.

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