Anti-Corruption in Latin America: A 2023 Overview

The authors of the 2023 CCC Index summarized its findings with a focus on the cases of Brazil, Mexico, and Panama.


  • Geert Aalbers, Global Chief Strategy Officer, Control Risks 
  • Mário Braga, Senior Analyst, Control Risks @mariobraga_ 
  • Lucía López Esquivelzeta, Associate Director, Control Risks
  • Sebastián Fernández de Soto, Analyst, Control Risks 
  • Brian Winter, Vice President for Policy, Americas Society/Council of the Americas @BrazilBrian

"The big takeaway is that 2023 was a year of setbacks for anti-corruption efforts, and almost no one was immune," said AS/COA Brian Winter in an event to launch 2023's Capacity to Combat Corruption, by AS/COA and Control Risks. "The Index confirmed what many of us already sensed: that fighting corruption is no longer as big a priority as it was five or even three years ago." Winter noted that 10 of the 15 countries studied saw a decline in their scores, including those that finished at the top of the list. 

As for methodology of the report, which looks not at perceived corruption but at capacity to combat it, Control Risks' Geert Aalbers explained the three pillars: legal capacity and rule of law, democracy and political institutions, and civil society and media.

Mário Braga said it's too early to tell whether there will be a full anti-corruption effort by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whose term started in January. Brazil's stagnant rating stands in comparison to its decline in reports past. Braga notes that other topics, such as the pandemic and inflation, held bigger prominence in public debates than corruption in recent years. 

On Mexico's 4 percent dip, Lucía López Esquivelzeta said that although "it is not a very pronounced drop, it is still concerning," noting that Mexico is the second-biggest economy in Latin America. She also explained that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador came to power in 2018 promising to fight corruption and that Mexico's score has now dropped for the fourth year in a row. "This anti-corruption fight remains only rhetorical," she said. 

The country that experienced the biggest improvement was Panama. "Panama has shown positive developments in the past three years," said Sebastián Fernández de Soto. "They have increased their legal capacity, which is the category responsible for their growth this year." Fernández de Soto noted the Panama Papers, prosecution of former President Ricardo Martinelli, and corruption-focused protests as examples and drivers of these positive developments.