Americas Committee Impeding Corruption in Latin America



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Americas Committee

Impeding Corruption in Latin America

By: Bia Silveira, Nilo Lisboa



Background Information

Underdeveloped countries tend to suffer with corruption. Latin American countries are especially vulnerable to these inflations. Creating polls in Latin America has helped uncover that one of the most concerning issues is Corruption. Crime, violence, inequality and governmental issues contribute to corruption; hence, the politician sees it as a way to take advantage over the population’s money. There are innumerous ways in which the corruption can be interpreted, but what is corruption? Many have misunderstood it; however, a former American political scientist and dean of Harvard’s school of government, called Joseph Nye has once cited a definition for corruption that defines it as a whole:

Corruption is behavior which deviates from the formal duties of a public role because of private-regarding (personal, close family, private clique) pecuniary or status gains; or violates rules against the exercise of certain types of private- regarding influence. This includes such behavior as bribery (use of a reward to pervert the judgment of a person in a position of trust); nepotism (bestowal of patronage by reason of inscriptive relationship rather than merit); and misappropriation (illegal appropriation of public resources for private-regarding uses) (Nye 2002).

His explanations make the understanding simple and easy, as his words are easy to follow; however, it leads us to some questions: Where does corruption normally take place? Most corruption schemes occur international, financial, and/or donor institutions and organizations. As the government pays an institution to do a job, the


Crisis

corruption


owner or powerful figure takes the money for himself and not for the community’s benefit.

The situation in Latin America is preoccupying; Venezuela and Haiti are in the top ten most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International. What should bordering countries and the United Nations do to help clean these countries from dirty politicians?



Referring directly to the countries, here’s a chart that shows Latin American countries position:

Rank

Country

Transparency level




LEAST CORRUPT




22º

Chile

7.2

25º

Uruguai

7

39º

Puerto Rico

5.6

50º

Costa Rica

4.8

61º

Cuba

4.2

73º

Brasil

3.8

80º

Colômbia

3.4

80º

El Salvador

3.4

80º

Peru

3.4

86º

Jamaica

3.3

86º

Panamá

3.3

91º

Trinidad and Tobago

3.2

100º

Argentina

3

100º

México

3

100º

Suriname

3

118º

Bolívia

2.8

120º

Ecuador

2.7

120º

Guatemala

2.7

129º

 Dominican Republic

2.6

129º

 Honduras

2.6

134º

French Guiana

2.5

134º

 Nicaragua

2.5

154º

 Paraguay

2.2

172º

Venezuela

1.9

175º

Haiti

1.8




MOST CORRUPT





a


129º

 Dominican Republic

2.6

129º

 Honduras

2.6

134º

French Guiana

2.5

134º

 Nicaragua

2.5

154º

 Paraguay

2.2

172º

Venezuela

1.9

175º

Haiti

1.8




MOST CORRUPT




Although not shown in the chart, Canada continues to lead among least corrupt countries in the Americas, followed by the United States. On the other side, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Venezuela lead the most corrupt countries in the world.

Timeline

(taken directly from http://www.globalintegrity.org )

January 2007 (Nicaragua) — Daniel Ortega takes office fractions his own salary, the salaries of many other top government officials also are trimmed. Furthermore, the president and foreign minister's right to use credit cards paid by the government is canceled. It is reported that the government will use the money saved to build gymnastic facilities for the country's youths.



March 2007 (Venezuela) — A report is published accusing the Venezuelan government of enacting a "deliberate campaign" against press freedom.

June 2008 (Nicaragua)— Roberto Courtney, head of the local chapter of the global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, says the poor management of public funds by the government, in addition to the constant barrage of criticism from the opposition, has increased people's perception that the authorities are doing nothing to alleviate poverty.

August 2008 (Venezuela) — President Chavez says he plans to nationalize one of the country's largest private banks, the Spanish-owned Bank of Venezuela.

September 2008 (Venezuela) — Government approves nationalization of household fuel distributors and petrol stations. (Nicaragua)— Comptroller General Luis Angel Montenegro defends the lack of corruption cases brought under Ortega's term as president by hailing the current administration as "a government without corruption."



November 2008 (Nicaragua)— Two radio stations' broadcasts are completely blocked for three weeks. The stations claim the stall came from government interference. This month, the FSLN also prohibited journalists from covering anti-government protests.

December 2008 (Venezuela) — Venezuelan prosecutors formally charged Manuel Rosales, a leading opposition figure, with corruption, as President Chavez pushes forward with plans for a referendum to end term limits. Rosales denies any wrongdoing, saying the accusations are politically motivated. (Colombia) — The U.S. State Department reports that the Colombian government has begun a publicly televised system of reporting complaints against military members, hosted by the presidency, with participation from the Prosecutor General's Office, the Inspector General's Office and the human rights ombudsman. 

January 2009 (Nicaragua)— The New York Times reports that Nicaragua’s Supreme Court overturned a 20-year corruption sentence.

July 2009 (Colombia) — Colombian police arrest a suspect in the murder of José Everardo Aguilar, a radio host who ran a popular corruption program. 

January 2010 (Venezuela) — Six TV channels were taken off air for breaking rules on transmitting government material.

December 2010 (Venezuela)— Parliament grants Chavez special powers to deal with the aftermath of devastating floods, which critics say will turn the country into a near-dictatorship.

March 2011 (Venezuela)— The Venezuela's State Oil Company (PDVSA) faces corruption allegations amid huge deals with the Chinese government.

April 2011 (Colombia)— Authorities in Colombia arrested Sen. Ivan Moreno, the brother of Bogota Mayor Samuel Moreno, on corruption charges for his alleged role in a bid-rigging scandal involving road construction. 

June 2011 (Venezuela)— Venezuela’s Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz says that the Public Ministry has appointed a team of prosecutors, under the responsibility of the attorney Nelson Mejia, to investigate all acts of corruption.

August 2011 (Venezuela)— Venezuelan prosecutors charge two former prison governors and a soldier with corruption, following June's riot that killed 22 people at their prison. They were also charged with facilitating the trafficking of arms and drugs and associating with criminals in El Rodeo jail.



September 2011 (Nicaragua)— “Joint Evaluation of Support to Anti-Corruption Efforts.” reports identifies that government created a favorable environment to introduce anti-corruption measures.

October 2011 (Venezuela) — The court choses to ignore a ruling by the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights last month that said Lopez's disqualification from politics over corruption allegations was unjustified. (Colombia)— The U.S. Congress passes a long-delayed free trade agreement with Colombia, despite concerns over Colombia's poor record of labor relations.

November 2011 (Nicaragua)— President Ortega is re-elected for another five-year term with a landslide victory in presidential elections, but the process and the results are severely questioned by opponents.”

KEY TERMS

Inflation – when the value of the money rises, making prices rise.

Transparency International – organization specialized in checking the corruption level worldwide

Joseph Nye – American political scientists, worked within Kennedy’s government in the United States and currently teaches at Harvard University.

Transparency Levelthe term refers to

Guiding Questions

  1. Should corruption be ignored or tolerated?

  2. What are national and international laws regarding the problem?

  3. How do the neighboring countries contribute to corruption?

  4. How should the United Nations take position regarding the proble

  5. Can international laws be created by a consensus?

  6. How is Transparency International involved?

  7. What is sovereignty?

Further Resources

  • http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2011/

  • http://www.economist.com/node/2576104

  • http://www.oecd.org/investment/briberyininternationalbusiness/anti-briberyconvention/oecd-latinamericaanti-corruptionprogramme.html

  • http://www.globalintegrity.org




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