By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A survey released this morning (Monday, October 9th) by Transparency International shows that almost two-thirds of people in Latin America feel that corruption increased in the last year and over ninety million people admitted to paying bribes to use a public service in the last twelve months.
According to the international agency many of those surveyed stated that without paying bribes they were not allowed access to public services, such as hospitals and schooling. This means those who can not pay are usually not helped by their local governments.
“Bribery represents a significant barrier to accessing key public services, particularly for the most vulnerable in society,” said José Ugaz, Chairman of Transparency International.
The survey, dubbed Global Corruption Barometer, People and Corruption: Latin America and the Caribbean shows that police and politicians are perceived to be the most corrupt institutions in the region, with almost half of those surveyed saying that ‘most or all people in these institutions are corrupt.
However, the recent Lava Jato (Car Wash) corruption scandal in Brazil which has to this day implicated hundreds of executives and politicians, including the country’s current President, Michel Temer, and former presidents and legislators has led to an increase in the population’s feeling that they can make a difference in the fight against corruption.
Brazilians were listed at the top of the survey (83 percent agreeing) when asked if ordinary people could make a difference in the fight against corruption. For many Brazilian officials, however, corruption in the country is seen as a deeply rooted phenomenon.
“Corruption in Brazil is not the result of individual failures,” said Supreme Court Justice Luis Barroso last month during an interview with Brazilian media outlets. “Corruption is systemic and endemic, a phenomenon that radiates in a very comprehensive way, involving private initiative, political class and state bureaucracy,’ concluded the Justice.
Last month UN commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Al Hussein, also had harsh words to say about corruption in certain countries around the globe.
“Recent corruption scandals , including serious allegations with senior officials from Brazil and Honduras, show how corruption is deeply rooted at all levels of government in many countries of the Americas, often linked to organized crime and drug trafficking,” the UN representative said.
Sergio Moro, one of the chief prosecutors in the Lava Jato graft, told participants of an economic conference in São Paulo last month that the resolution of the Lava Jato investigations would not solve the corruption problem in the country, but it was a step in the right direction.
“We do not imagine that one case [Lava Jato] will solve the problem of corruption in Brazil, it will always exist, what we want is to make sure it is not systemic,” he said.