Niño mirando triste en barrio marginal. Imagen para ilustrar nota sobre corrupción
The perception of corruption is higher in the following countries. Photo: Pixabay.

The top 20 most corrupt countries in Latin America

Corruption in Latin America continues to undermine democracy, and is one of the main causes of attacks on human rights.


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According to the latest Transparency International report from 2021, in which 180 countries were analyzed to find out how corruption was perceived there, the countries of the Americas continue to be stuck for the third consecutive year with a bad wrap, obtaining an average rating of 43 out of 100.

The most worrying case in this area of the world continues to be Venezuela, not only the country with the highest perception of corruption in the region, but it also obtained the lowest rating in its history this year.

For their part, the cases of Uruguay and Chile stand out as the two best viewed. Together with Costa Rica and Cuba, both were the only countries that exceeded the average in Latin America.

Over the last 10 years, three of the strongest democracies in the Americas — the United States, Chile and Canada — which lead this year's ranking, are showing deterioration, while only Uruguay remains stable.

For its part, the organization looks with concern at Central America, especially at Nicaragua and El Salvador, where they see with concern how authoritarianism is becoming dangerously normalized in those two countries. Likewise, it highlighted the direct relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and corruption, where funds and resources destined to combat the health emergency end up lost and leave health systems in crisis.

The ranking used by the international entity assigns zero points to those nations where there is a total perception of corruption, while 100 is awarded to those that do not consider it a serious problem. Likewise, the study is based on the Perception Index of Corruption (CPI), which is made from the ratings that various private sector experts make on the level of corruption in the public life of a country.

The order shown below is given from the lowest rated country in Latin America to the the best score.

20. Venezuela: Occupying position 177 worldwide, the Maduro administration only scored 14 points out of a possible 100.

19. Haiti: The troubled country that saw its president assassinated the previous year and is said to be run by drug mafias, obtained a score of 20.

18. Nicaragua: Given the disputed elections that led to the re-election of Daniel Ortega, amid notorious attacks on human rights and civil liberties, the Central American country shares the same score as Haiti, with 20 points.

17. Honduras: Close to beginning the first administration of a female president in history, an institutional crisis is debated in its Congress.

16. Guatemala: There have been attacks against the press and opposition under cover of false news and defamation.

15. Dominican Republic: In the latest report it leaves behind its worst historical ratings (2019 and 2020) and improves its image with convictions of important political figures.

14. Paraguay: The South American country is one that improved significantly, rising six percentage points since 2014.

13. Bolivia: The consequences of the coup against Evo Morales are still being felt while the new government tries to gain confidence.

12. Mexico: “With 31 points, it did not present progress in the 2021 Perception Index. Despite the strong anti-corruption rhetoric of the president, the great cases of corruption in the country continue without being sanctioned,” read the report

11. El Salvador: The measures taken by the Bukele administration, whose government is viewed with caution by Washington, are of concern.

10. Peru: Although it was close to experiencing a democratic crisis, the Castillo government is expected to restore confidence in the country.

9. Panama: The country remains under scrutiny for its links to money laundering and tax evasion activities.

8. Ecuador: The Lasso administration has been questioned for its handling of the prison violence crisis in Guayaquil.

7. Brazil: The Bolsonaro administration has been one of the most questioned for its handling of the pandemic, for its authoritarian measures and excessive force in police operations.

6. Argentina: The economic crisis that hits the southern country again influences its rating. “Argentina (38) was the country in the region that fell the most. The interference of political power in justice puts its independence in check and consolidates the feeling of impunity in the country,” the report read.

5. Colombia: The disproportionate response of the public force to the demonstrations, as well as the systematic murders of human rights defenders, leave the coffee country in a bad light.

4. Cuba: Despite official repression in the face of protests, it achieved a better than average score.

3. Costa Rica: The best positioned in Central America is ranked 39th worldwide.

2. Chile: Its management of the pandemic, as well as compliance with his vaccinating its population, make it one of the best qualified in the region.

1. Uruguay: Ranking 18th in the world, with a score of 73/100, and being the only country in the region that remains stable. "It is an example of how the stability and soundness of democratic institutions, the independence of the judiciary and the enjoyment of fundamental rights are key to preventing corruption from permeating public institutions," the report highlighted.

Click here to read the full report.


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