Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Paraguay, Corruption Still King ; Paraguay Is Ranked the Most Corrupt in Latin America by a Recent Survey

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Paraguay, Corruption Still King ; Paraguay Is Ranked the Most Corrupt in Latin America by a Recent Survey

Article excerpt

Every time he goes to a wedding reception, Enrique Biedermann collects a dollar from each of the others at his table and gives them to the waiter at the beginning of the night.

The money doesn't get them more food or drink. It is simply the Paraguayan way of ensuring that service is fast and efficient. In some small way, Mr. Biedermann sheepishly admits, it is encouraging corruption. But he says there is no other way.

"The logical thing would be to pay the waiter afterwards, if he serves us well," says the head of Biedermann Publicity, one of Paraguay's big publicity firms. "But it is the only way to get good service. It is our custom. Here in Paraguay we are all corrupt to one degree or another."

Biedermann's assessment was confirmed last month with the annual report from Transparency International (www.transparency.org), a Berlin-based watchdog that ranks more than 100 countries "on the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians." Paraguay was named the most corrupt country in Latin America and tied for third most corrupt country in the world.

"In Paraguay, corruption remains systematic," the annual report said in giving Paraguay a score of 1.7 out of 10, worse than all but Nigeria and Bangladesh. (Finland received the highest score, with 9.5. The United States was 16th with 7.7.)

A nation of 6 million people stuck in the heart of South America, Paraguay established its culture of corruption during the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, the military strongman who seized power in 1954. Back then, power was consolidated in few hands. To win government contracts, those hands often had to be greased.

But even though Mr. Stroessner was toppled by a coup in 1989, "the long tradition of corrupt administration is still alive and well," says Transparency International's Jose Antonio Bergues. Mr. Bergues says that with the spread of democracy in recent years, corruption has become even more widespread as more people have access to power and, therefore, bribes. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.