An anti-corruption protest in Panama. (AP)


LatAmFocus: How Courts Can Make or Break Latin America's Corruption Battle

By Luisa Leme

Transparency International’s Luciana Torchiaro explains which countries are falling short—as well as bright spots—in the fight against corruption.

First the good news. Generally, Latin Americans don’t feel their countries have gotten more corrupt. Now the bad news: They don’t feel it’s gotten much better either.

Luciana Torchiaro

In the latest episode, Luciana Torchiaro, regional advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean with Transparency International, covers the reasons why the the Western Hemisphere–and the world—have slowed pace in the fight against corruption. In January, her organization released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index, a tool that ranks 180 countries around the world based on perceived levels of public sector corruption. The 2023 round found that, overall, the Americas are stagnating and have an average score of 43 out of 100, meaning 20 points below global leader Europe.

As Torchiaro explains to AS/COA Online’s Luisa Leme, one avenue to progress would be strengthening judiciary independence. “We need more transparency on the processes, on the appointments, and on the removals of judges and prosecutors. That is critical,” Torchiaro says, covering moves to stack courts and erode judiciaries in Brazil, Mexico, and Honduras.

In a sign of the challenges she outlines, a Brazilian Supreme Court justice this week responded to the 2023 Index—which saw the country’s position drop 10 spots to 104—by calling for an investigation into Transparency International’s spending during the country’s “Car Wash” anti-corruption probe. The justice calling for the investigation recently suspended a multimillion-dollar fine levied against a construction firm linked to the case. 

But not all the corruption news in the region is fraught. Torchiaro explains how the Dominican Republic’s steps to strengthen its judiciary’s independence have been part of a round of measures that made the country one of only two to witness significant improvements in the Index over the past decade. She also explains why Chile has an opportunity this year to restore its standing as a regional leader in the battle against corruption.

Latin America in Focus Podcast

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This podcast was produced by Executive Producer Luisa Leme with support from Jon Orbach. Text by Jon Orbach. Carin Zissis is the host. 

The music in this podcast is “Compay” performed by Ártemis Duo, recorded for Americas Society. Find out about upcoming concerts at:

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Opinions expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Society/Council of the Americas or its members.