According to Transparency International, in 2020 the pandemic aggravated corruption in the world

A woman denounces alleged government corruption during a demonstration against Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattein in Guatemala City, on August 22, 2020.

© Johan Ordoñez / File Photo / AFP
A woman denounces alleged government corruption during a demonstration against Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattein in Guatemala City, on August 22, 2020.

The NGO presented its traditional annual classification on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), in which two thirds of the 180 countries considered fell below the accepted levels. The organization warned about the particular situation in Latin America, where only three of the 19 nations analyzed obtained a favorable score.

The pandemic exacerbates corruption in the world and its increase hinders the response to the advance of Covid-19. This is how the conclusion reached the German NGO Transparency International (TI) in its annual report on 2020.

According to the Corruption Perception Index of 2020, two-thirds of the 180 countries surveyed did not reach the accepted levels of measurement. The report warns of the “dire picture” of the corruption situation globally, with a global average score of 43 out of 100 and no progress recorded “in the last decade” in half of the countries against illicit practices, such as “bribery and embezzlement at abusive prices and favoritism”.

The report points out that those countries that their citizens perceive as the most corrupt have also been the ones that have responded the worst to Covid-19. Along these lines, the weak and chaotic reactions to the pandemic left more scope for illegal practices.

TI president Delia Ferreira highlighted the link between corruption and the pandemic and warned that Covid-19 “is not just a health and economic crisis”, but rather “is a corruption crisis”, which “currently we are not knowing how to manage “.

“The past year has put governments to the test in ways that are not remembered and those with higher levels of corruption have been less able to rise to the challenge. But even those above the CPI must urgently address their role in perpetuating corruption in home and abroad, “he added.

Faced with this kind of permanent state of exception in which we live under the pandemic, transparency in government decision-making is put to the test and, for corrupt administrations, it is presented as an opportunity to divert funds, an action that, in times of scarcity for health systems, translates into serious consequences for the lives of citizens.

In this context, the analysis warns “that corruption not only undermines the global health response to Covid-19, but also contributes to prolonging the democratic crisis.” In the response to the pandemic, for TI, there are “huge cracks in health systems and democratic institutions” and, among rulers, it is clear that “they often pursue their own interests rather than those of the most vulnerable” .

The report also associates the illegal actions of governments with “less coverage of public health and higher rates of infant and maternal mortality, death from cancer, diabetes and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.”

In this context, the NGO calls for the “anti-corruption efforts” to be sustained in the midst of the vaccination campaigns to “ensure a fair and equitable recovery” for all.

Denmark and New Zealand lead, USA at worst since 2012

In the ranking, Denmark and New Zealand remain at the top with 88 points out of 100 possible, followed by Finland, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland, with 85. At the bottom of the table are Venezuela, Yemen (with 15 each), Syria (14) and Somalia and South Sudan (with 12 each).

In its report, IT highlights the most important progress of the last decade, with Greece, Myanmar and Ecuador the most advanced. The other side are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Malawi and Lebanon, which are the nations that have regressed the most in the last ten years.

The United States, for its part, fell to its worst level since 2012 and registered a decline for the fourth consecutive year, coinciding with the entire presidency of Donald Trump. In the 2020 ranking, the North American country is 25th with 67 points.

TI accused the lack of oversight in the US $ 1 trillion Covid-19 aid program, which raised “serious concern” from the NGO and meant a “significant setback” in the tradition of “democratic norms for promoting government accountability “.

In the review of other powers, China added one point (reached 42) and climbed two positions (to 78th place), while Russia is much further behind, although it advanced two points and two places (30 and 129th). At the European level, the average for the countries of that continent remains at 66 points.

In Latin America, the pandemic helps structural corruption

Transparency International also focused on the situation in Latin America, where the coronavirus pandemic has undermined already complex efforts to fight corruption, a scenario that the NGO classifies as “frustrating.”

According to the CPI, only 3 of the 19 Latin American countries analyzed are above the accepted levels, that is, only 16%, while the average score is 43 out of 100.

The Latin American nations that their citizens perceive as cleaner are Uruguay (71 points), Chile (67) and Costa Rica (57), the only three that climb to the approved records. In contrast, Honduras (24), Nicaragua (22) and Venezuela (15) are identified as the most corrupt.

The record is completed by Cuba (47), Argentina (42), Colombia and Ecuador (39), Brazil and Peru (38), El Salvador (36), Panama (35), Bolivia and Mexico (31), Dominican Republic and Paraguay (28).

In an interview with the EFE agency, TI’s regional adviser for Latin America, Luciana Torchiario, warned that the region “is once again failing in the fight against corruption” and considered it especially “frustrating” that “good use is not made of resources “in the pandemic.

“In many countries there has been a regression in checks and balances, opaque management of the pandemic, and cuts in the right to information and freedom of expression,” he warned.

The report highlights the progress of Ecuador, which has improved 7 points in the last eight years, although it still faces “very serious challenges”, according to Torchiario, and has been the “epicenter” of corruption linked to Covid-19.

In its regional section, TI also puts the magnifying glass on Honduras and Peru, as two countries facing a crossroads. In the Central American nation, the pandemic was joined by the passage of two major hurricanes, which further hampered anti-corruption measures. While the South American country faces “significant challenges” and, although it made some legal progress, it remains “subsumed in corruption.”

Among the large countries of the region, the report does not show good feelings either. For TI, Brazil suffers from a “severe democratic deterioration” with “interference” and “attacks” on Justice and the press from President Jair Bolsonaro; Mexico remains stuck despite the commitments of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador; and in Argentina, some judicial processes linked to corruption cases have slowed down.

Torchiaro also expressed his concern about the “very precarious institutional framework” in Nicaragua and Venezuela, the two countries with the worst record in the region. For the minister, in the South American country, democracy is “practically non-existent” and, according to TI calculations, during the pandemic, corruption has stolen $ 5 billion from the health sector.

With EFE

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