HomeNewsAnalysisAdding Up Latin America’s Anti-Corruption Protests
ANALYSIS

Adding Up Latin America's Anti-Corruption Protests

BRAZIL / 30 JUL 2015 BY JAMES BOSWORTH EN

Anti-corruption movements across Latin America has been a key development in 2015, and has shaken political elites from Guatemala to Brazil. Security analyst James Bosworth breaks down how these ongoing investigations could impact regional politics. 

Lots of horrific abuses of human rights and democracy happened in Latin America's recent past. This led to a generation-long struggle to investigate, prosecute and convict the former leaders responsible for those abuses. Success varied by country, but the mere act of investigating past abuses helped promote the ideas that nobody should be above the law and institutions should hold current and former leaders accountable. This has meant the investigations and prosecutions of the current generation's corruption scandals have been quicker and more efficient.

This article was originally published at Bloggings by Boz and is reprinted with permission. See original here.

The above paragraph is a giant (and risky) generalization for a very diverse region. Yet, I think it will hold true over the coming decade. Corruption scandals are being prosecuted more quickly than the abuses of the past, in part because the region built institutions to investigate those past abuses and in part because the culture of the region as a whole has shifted. If the current corruption scandal you care about most hasn't been prosecuted yet, my guess is that it will take less than ten years after a leader leaves power instead of the 20-30 it took to investigate the abuses of South America's dirty wars and Central America's conflicts.

SEE ALSO:  Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime

This leads to a couple of interesting points.

1) While prosecuting corruption and reducing impunity improves governance in the long term (at least in theory), it creates some serious short term political instability. The current wave of anti-corruption protests and prosecutions threatens the governability of at least a half-dozen Latin American countries, perhaps more. It has weakened leaders and made it much harder to get other necessary agenda items through the political system.

2) Leaders like Brazil's Lula da Silva who fought hard against the military dictatorships in decades past are surprised and perhaps offended that they are being targeted for corruption investigations at a level that never existed for previous leaders. It isn't a double standard as much as an evolving one. While there is no excuse for corruption, it is at least understandable that some leaders feel angry that a previous generation of torturers and murderers lived out their days in impunity while the current generation may face jail for skimming off the top of a budget.

3) For some leaders like the current cabal in charge of the Venezuelan government, the realization that they will likely face major corruption prosecution upon leaving power increases their incentives to hold on to power at any cost. Watching the corruption investigations play out in Guatemala, Panama and Brazil, they must know that the institutions they have undermined will no longer protect them when the opposition retakes power. Holding off that judgement day is now a goal.

This article was originally published at Bloggings by Boz and is reprinted with permission. See original here.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BARRIO 18 / 29 JAN 2019

Though violence has decreased in Guatemala, recent deadly attacks against buses show that public transport remains under siege by gangs,…

CARTEL DE LOS SOLES / 27 FEB 2018

The United States government could impose sanctions on the second most powerful person in Venezuela, according to a diplomat at…

ELITES AND CRIME / 20 JUL 2015

Guatemala's probe into corrupt dealings by its customs authority has shaken the nation and arguably threatened the presidency. How…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.