VOL. 4, NO. 5, PGS. 30–45


Scandals and Anti-Corruption Policies in Latin America
The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Manuel Balán

Manuel Balán is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Development at McGill University.

This translation has been automatically generated and has not been verified for accuracy.

From March to July 2020, during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, corruption scandals emerged related to overpricing in state purchases of artificial respirators (Mexico, Bolivia), body bags (Ecuador), ambulances (Colombia), chinstraps (Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador), food (Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador) and many other products. Despite the exceptional context of a pandemic that disrupted the lives of everyone in every country in the world, the emergence of these scandals was, if one can say, a dose of “normality” amidst so much change. In fact, few media events are as common in Latin America as corruption scandals. Since the early 1990s, we have seen how year after year corruption scandals, involving presidents, public officials and, in many cases, important private actors, have dominated the political agenda in the region. The level of media attention on corruption has been constant and consistently high. This level of social, media and political attention has promoted the consideration and/or implementation of a series of measures to control corruption at different levels of the state. Although the anti-corruption policy agenda has not changed much over time, the degrees of implementation of these measures and the levels of support they experience have. In this context, it is important to understand the complex interrelationship that exists in the region between corruption scandals and the design and implementation of different aspects of the anti-corruption policy agenda.

What is the relationship between corruption scandals and existing levels of corruption? What is the role of corruption monitoring and control mechanisms in the emergence of corruption scandals? What effect do scandals have on the design and implementation of new anti-corruption policies? How has this relationship between scandals and anti-corruption policies been affected by the global pandemic that emerged in March 2020 with COVID-19?

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