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Central America Takes on Corruption
Central American judiciaries have been stepping up to fight corruption. Last year Guatemala’s attorney general’s office, working closely with UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), took down then-President Otto Pérez Molina for stealing tens of millions of dollars in customs duties. Pressured by civil society, the Honduran government agreed to a similar Organization for American States (OAS)-backed body, the Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), to investigate graft after $200 million disappeared from the country’s social security system. And El Salvador’s new Attorney General Douglas Meléndez, sworn in at the start of the year, is prosecuting several high-level officials and former officials with unexplained millions in their bank accounts. While this week’s asylum in Nicaragua for former Salvadorian President Mauricio Funes and his family is a potential setback, the cases themselves represent a sea change in justice for Central America’s Northern Triangle.
Maduro Undermines Checks on Power
On September 1st hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets demanding a recall referendum on President Nicolás Maduro before the year ends (this timing would ensure that his vice president doesn’t replace him). The government responded by kicking out foreign journalists, imprisoning members of the opposition, and this week by rejecting the authority of the legislature. The Supreme Court annulled all acts passed by the National Assembly since July 28, when the legislative body reinstated three lawmakers, giving the opposition a supermajority. These steps further diminish the potential for a peaceful democratic solution to the deepening political, economic, and humanitarian crises the nation faces.
China’s G20 Ignores Corporate Secrecy
At China’s G20 summit, member countries took a step back on the past years’ push to pierce secrecy around shell and anonymous companies. At the UK Anticorruption summit in May, six countries—including two G20 members—pledged to set up public registers of companies’ true owners, joining twenty-nine others that maintain and share the information among governments. Last year, former UK Prime Minister David Cameron promised to publish information on UK properties owned by foreign companies and used to launder an estimated $100 billion each year. And at the 2014 G20 conference, members agreed to take steps including requiring “know your customer” rules for banks. These issues didn’t make the Chinese G20 anticorruption agenda, which focused on asset recovery and repatriation of fugitives—central concerns for China’s domestic anti-graft program instead of the broader global anticorruption agenda.