The 2021 Capacity to Combat Corruption Index Launch

The report's authors discussed the 2021 index's findings, with a focus on Central America.


  • Geert Aalbers, Partner, Control Risks
  • Marielos Chang, Professor, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala
  • Brian Winter, Vice President for Policy, AS/COA and Editor-in-Chief, Americas Quarterly
  • Cecilia Tornaghi, Senior Director of Policy, AS/COA and Managing Editor, Americas Quarterly (moderator)

In the 2021 Capacity to Combat Corruption Index findings, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Panama saw the most significant improvements year-on-year, while Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico saw the biggest declines. Looking at Central America in particular, there are some modest improvements, but "corruption is structural. It's a part of the system," said Marielos Chang at the launch event for this year’s report. "Even if you prosecute every case of corruption in Guatemala, if you don't follow up with [judicial] reforms, then things will not change," she said.

“Civil society and media is the only category where we saw a relative bright spot,” said report coauthor Geert Aalbers. Improvements particularly occurred in digital and social communications, and Aalbers noted that in 12 of the 15 countries surveyed, civil society and media is the strongest of the three categories studied. Brian Winter, the report’s other coauthor, expressed that while it might be tempting for voters to gravitate toward a strong leader with an anti-corruption message, “sometimes we have to relearn that these institutions that we create really are the best vehicles we have for fighting corruption.“