Corruption in Central America: Perception or Reality?

In 2018, the perception of corruption in public institutions increased in all countries in the region, except Panama, where it remained the same as in 2017, and El Salvador, where it slightly decreased.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

As in previous years, Nicaragua's public sector continues to be considered the most corrupt in the region (level of transparency 25 on a scale of 0 to 100), followed by Guatemala (27), Honduras (29), El Salvador (35), Panama (37), and Costa Rica (56).

See: "Corruption as a Habit"

Transparency International stresses that "... With a 25 score, Nicaragua has lost four points in the CPI in the last seven years. This significant drop reflects the political landscape and recent events in the country. After more than a decade in power, President Daniel Ortega controls most of Nicaragua's democratic institutions, limiting their effectiveness and independence. In recent years, the President has also reduced the political rights of his citizens, who, despite facing violent repression, have taken to the streets in large numbers to protest his authoritarian government. Recently, several journalists and activists have been forced to leave the country because of threats they were receiving."

"... Despite still being at low levels, El Salvador, with 35 points, has improved 2 points from 2017. In this country, the judicial sector is promoting the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases committed by high-level individuals, including ex-presidents.
"

Also see: "What Central America is Losing Due to Corruption"

The report explains that in Guatemala President Jimmy Morales is one of the governments of the Americas that has a leadership that tends to "...

  • block free and independent media, especially when questioning leaders' messages
  • control and silence civil society and international organizations;
  • intensify the use of voting suppression and voter disqualification
  • use a language that is more xenophobic, racist and contrary to the LGTB collective.
  • make public promises based on simplistic and "hard hand" approaches to solving complex social problems
  • weaken the system of checks and balances and increase the power of the executive;
  • increase in conflicts of interest and private influence."

See Transparency International report for the Americas.

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More on this topic

Corruption Perception Grows in Central America

January 2020

In 2019, the perception of corruption in public institutions increased in all countries of the region except Costa Rica, where it remained the same as in 2018.

As has been the case in recent years, Nicaragua's public sector continues to be perceived as the most corrupt in the region (transparency level 22 on a scale of 0 to 100), followed by Guatemala (26), Honduras (26), Dominican Republic (28), El Salvador (34), Panama (36), and Costa Rica (56).

In Which Countries Has Corruption Increased?

September 2019

The Dominican Republic, Panama and Honduras are the nations in the region where the majority of the population believes that corruption in government institutions has increased in the last twelve months.

The report "Barómetro Global de la Corrupción: América Latina y El Caribe 2019 - Opiniones y Experiencias de los ciudadanos en materia de corrupción" (Global Corruption Barometer: Latin America and the Caribbean 2019 - Opinions and Experiences of Citizens on Corruption), compiled by Transparency International and published on September 23, 2019, evaluated the perception of corruption in the countries of the region and some aspects of insecurity.

Corruption Perception in Central America

February 2018

In 2017, the perception of corruption in public institutions increased in all of the countries in the region, with the exception of Guatemala and Nicaragua, where it remained the same as in 2016, and in Costa Rica, where it decreased slightly.

The public sector still perceives Nicaragua to be the most corrupt country (transparency level 26 on a scale from 0 to 100), followed by Guatemala (28), Honduras (29), El Salvador (33), Panama (37) and Costa Rica (59).

Corruption Perception Index 2014

December 2014

In Central America, the public sector perceives Nicaragua as the most corrupt country (transparency level 28 on a scale of 0-100), followed by Honduras (29), Guatemala (32), Panama (37), El Salvador (39), and Costa Rica (54).

"... When leaders and senior officials abuse their power by using public funds for personal gain, economic growth is undermined ... "- Transparency International

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