South America is a vast continent of light, yet it has a dark soul. Nestled in its political class, like a snake from the rain forest, corruption poisons the core of government. Badly needed resources are siphoned from public purposes to run the machinery of political parties. Pervasive and systemic, corruption is sanctioned by a culture of impunity from the top.
Until recently, this shield from prying eyes has been particularly strong in the economic powerhouses of Brazil and Argentina — though that may be changing. Lately, especially in Brazil, high public officials accused of corruption have been paraded almost daily through the media and the courts.
On the index of shame maintained by the Berlin-based corruption monitoring group Transparency International, Argentina places with worse than averagely corrupt states like Niger and Djibouti. Brazil scores better, alongside Italy and Greece, while Venezuela ranks among the worst, close to Somalia and North Korea.
Brazil’s place as the third most honest nation in South America, after Chile and Uruguay, is small comfort for its embattled president, Dilma Rousseff. With growing evidence of her government’s egregious graft, she is clinging to political survival by her fingernails.
The New York Times By Uki Goñi