Main menu

Weekly Chart: How Latin Americans Perceive Corruption

October 11, 2017

Argentina, Guatemala, Uruguay = the 3 countries of 20 surveyed where majority of people don't say corruption is up
51% of Mexicans had to pay bribes in the past year but just 22% feel bribes are justified. Ecuadorans? 28% and 28%.

Despite some public efforts to root out corruption in several countries, most Latin Americans feel corruption is in fact getting worse. Guatemalans impeached their president in 2015 for being involved in a bribery scheme just to find themselves with their current president, Jimmy Morales, mired in corruption scandals, too. Meanwhile, Brazil’s Prosecutor’s Office has issued 1,765 legal proceedings since 2014 under Lava Jato, with investigations into bribes funneled through Petrobras and Odebrecht spreading from Colombia to Mexico to Peru.

A Transparency International report published October 9 shows that 62 percent of 22,000 people surveyed across 20 Latin American countries believe corruption increased from 2015 to 2016. Leading the pack are Venezuelans, 87 percent of whom believe the situation is getting worse, followed by Chileans (80 percent) and Peruvians (79 percent). Although Brazil ranks fourth among the countries viewing corruption being on the rise, Brazilians are also the most likely to think ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against it.

The systemic issue also has a third of Latin Americans paying bribes for basic services from utilities to public hospitals to courts. A 2017 report by USAID and LAPOP suggests that many Latin Americans also feel such bribes are justified. In Mexico for example, 22 percent of respondents say paying a bribe is justified, while 11 percent of Brazilians do.

Here’s a look at perceptions on the issue.