Corruption and Police System in Latin America

Corruption and Police System in Latin America

Corruption and Police System in Latin America


Corruption is a behaviour that is against the law and leads to lack of honesty to the individual, which may lead to mistrust of the other people. Corruption is rampant in many countries and more so in the Latin America, where the powerful people use corruptive methods to get what they want. The police department in Latin America is very corrupt, and the systems do not give the citizens of the country a chance to get justice for many issues. The main aim of this review is to address corruption issues and find their extent in Latin America by the use of the literature materials on the topics.

About Corruption and the Police systems in Latin America

Corruption is an act that is widespread in Latin America in various units, such as the offices, schools, government institutions, employment organizations, and in the political class. Corruption in the political class involves things like buying votes during elections and bribing voters to win political seats. Politicians can buy votes by giving out cash to the voters, giving the voters some presents, and promising the jobs and other things once they get in the political office. A study done in Argentina to find out the extent of buying votes by politicians showed that many low-income earners and the poor people receive various gifts and promises to vote for particular politicians. The other form of corruption with the politicians involves the clientellism in which the masses expect some loyalty after electing a certain politician. The effect is that the people cannot have control over their leader since they elected him because of the things he/she offered them. Corruption is also rampant in the police departments with most of them taking bribes from wrongdoers, who want to escape the law. The police investigations in Latin America are not to the required standards as some do not do a thorough job when investigating crimes.

The extent of corruption

Corruption is a menace in Latin America according to a survey carried out in 2013 that showed that about 27 percent of the police collect bribes from various clients. The survey was by the Global Corruption Barometer GSB that carries surveys on corruption activities in the world for comparisons. Topping the list of corruption in the Latin America were Bolivia and Mexico with 36 percent and 33 percent of bribery cases respectively. The Latin American police were leading in corruption cases, and many people said that the corruption in the police force was on the rise. According to the survey, a country, such as Mexico had 65000 reported cases of bribery, which is a very big number. Corruption in the political class is also widespread, which involves buying votes and bribing the voters before the actual date of the election. Police also assist criminals to form gangs that terrorise residents in many parts of Latin America. Some gangsters rob people while dressed as police officers, indicating that some police officers collaborated with the gangsters and led them their uniforms. Another survey by GSB showed that most of the crimes that happened in Latin America in 2013 showed that the police were the masterminds of most of the crimes.

Why corruption and the police systems matter in Latin America

Corruption is a vice that can kill development in a country if not controlled and the corrupt parties prosecuted in a court of law. When politicians embezzle the public funds, and the police take bribes from the people, development stagnates, as one cannot do anything without bribing the authorities. The other reason corruption may raise concern to the citizens is that it compromises democracy, especially when the governing body is corrupt. Corruption also causes lack of patriotism to the citizens in Latin America, as they cannot trust any of them.

Political scientists’ and their view on the corruption

Political scientists associate corruption with the historical issues, such as the military coup, and the political instability in Latin America. Many politicians also use corruption incidences of their opponents to get into power by arguing that they will eliminate corruption completely. However, once into power, they also become corrupt just like their predecessors. The political scientists also associate corruption with cultural norms of different countries in Latin America. In some countries, there is a big gap between the most powerful officers or leaders and the least powerful. It is very difficult to control corruption by the most powerful leaders because of the dire consequences a person may face. For example trying to expose corruption of a corrupt legislature may lead to retaliatory attacks by that legislature on the reporter.

Corruption versus socio-economic and the political changes in Latin America

Corruption, especially in the police unit and the other areas has an association with the changing trends in the political and the socio-economic changes. The rising poverty levels in Latin America lead to many people accepting bribes to vote for a particular person. Many people are advocating the accountability of their leaders, and there are various bodies to receive their grievances about the performance of officers. The other thing that is making corruption reduce is the application of the rule of law, which demands the prosecution of any officer regarding a corruption-related crime. Transparency is another change affecting corruption as the officers have to make any official matters public, disclosing the activities they undertake. There are some institutions mandated with the role of auditing all the public documents and transactions and revealing any anomalies in the financial documents. Another change that relates to corruption is the public opinion polls meant for checking the performance of any officer. One purpose of the public opinion polls is to rate different officers in relation to their performance.


Corruption is a serious problem in Latin America as some surveys show that the rate of bribery and political corruption is very high. Corruption is rampant and many people engage in it on a daily basis due to the economic hardships in some areas. Politician bribe voters by offering gifts and other promises once in the office. Political scientists view corruption as historical, which originated from such things as the military coup in the earlier years. Corruption has a big relationship with the current changes in the political and socio-economic changes in Latin America, which aims at reducing corruption to lower levels. However, there is a need for various researchers to come out and investigate corruption issues in the other countries.