Corruption is an issue in Argentina – I know, I just blew your mind with this revelation. We are reminded of it every day when we see the innumerable investigations against high-ranking officials on the media. But this problem is not circumscribed to the high spheres of Argentine power – although it could definitely be argued that this is a factor that sets a bad example for the rest of society, creating a scenario of every person for him or herself: “if the President or a minister is corrupt, why shouldn’t I,” could think someone before engaging in an act of corruption.
A study conducted by Latinbarómetro, a non-profit consulting firm based out of Santiago, Chile, revealed that more than a few Argentines think that’s the mindset of public officials, as that 41% of them believe it’s possible to, for example, successfully bribe a police officer.
In addition the police officers, the study found that judges and ministry officials are also susceptible to bribery, at least according to public opinion. 36% of Argentines believe that judges can be bribed, and 40% think that you could get away with bribing a ministry official. Corruption is so entrenched in society there’s even a monument to corruption in the Ministry of Social development.
Out of the 18 Latin American countries that were involved in the study, Argentina ranks fifth. The leading four countries were Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Mexico, in that order.
These levels of corruption in Argentina are no secret to the rest of the world. In 2016, Jon Lee Anderson, a writer for The New Yorker, wrote, “the Argentines do not do things by half-measures. When [the country’s] Presidents are corrupt, they tend to be brazenly so.”
91% of Argentines claim that they would report an act of corruption if they witnessed it, but only 6% would consider corruption to be the country’s biggest problem.
Germán Emanuele, a lawyer and director of the Poder Ciudadano Foundation’s branch of Transparency and the Fight Against Corruption, sees corruption at all levels as a major problem in Argentina.
“The State has to raise the bar by demanding greater transparency in its mechanisms; the systems of prevention and sanction in the face of corruption are weak in Argentina, they must be improved.”
He emphasizes the need for corruption at all levels to be addressed, not only the largest forms of corruption that occur in high government.
“Society is [already] demanding more and more transparency when a very scandalous case of corruption breaks out, but we still do not identify the smallest forms of corruption, which is also when an official uses a State plane to go see a relative, or when bids are granted discretionally, and also when a citizen wants to bribe a police officer. “