Leaders of Latin American states pledged to tackle the endemic corruption that has been holding back many of the region’s countries, at a weekend summit in Lima.
In an address welcoming the gathering of Organization of American States leaders on Friday, Peruvian president Martin Vizcarra urged the gathering to agree on 57 action points that he said would form the basis for a pan-regional anti-corruption effort, saying: “As we all must realise, in the Americas we have a problem, and will continue to have one.
“Corruption is a hereditary, autoimmune disease in any political system run by human beings. It recognizes no frontiers, be they ideological or political, and may not even be thwarted by strong institutions.
“Corruption scandals throughout the Hemisphere in recent years have brought the problem out into the open, giving the impression that the phenomenon is new or more pronounced in democratic contexts. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“The disease of corruption, which destroys even the healthy and well-intentioned parts of the body politic, has been relentless and present throughout history, particularly when the patient has tried to ignore it.
“It is not due to democracy, but thanks to democracy, that nowadays the problem is aired more frankly, forcing us to confront it.
“What we have to fight is the disease, not the system.”
On Saturday the delegates approved the document President Vizcarra was referring to, known as the “Lima Commitment: Democratic Governance Against Corruption”, although some observers quoted in the press immediately afterward expressed doubt that it would result in much if any improvement in the region’s deeply-embedded corruption culture.
According to press reports, the measures included in the document included a promise to ensure and strengthen an independent judiciary to prevent impunity; greater protections for journalists and whistleblowers who investigate and uncover crimes; and a commitment to ensure open and transparent public-sector procurement procedures, as well as urging greater private-sector responsibility to combat corruption.