Almost two thirds of people in Latin America and the Caribbean believe that corruption is on the rise, and more than 50% no longer expect their governments to solve the issue, according to an annual study by Transparency International.
Based on the survey results, it is estimated that around 90 million people in the region might have had to pay bribes in the past 12 months. One in three people in the region had to pay a bribe to access a public service in the same period.
Bribery was found to be most common in Mexico and the Dominican Republic where 51% and 46% of those surveyed said that they had to pay a bribe to access public services. Corruption was relatively low in Trinidad & Tobago, where only 6% of people admitted to paying anyone under the table.
The report shows that around one in five people who came into contact with public hospitals and public schools had to pay a bribe. Most bribe payers never reported anything to anti-corruption authorities.
Police and politicians are perceived to be the most corrupt institutions in the region, with almost half of the citizens saying that most or all people in these institutions are corrupt.
“The people of Latin America and the Caribbean are being let down by their governments and the private sector,” said José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International. “Bribery represents a significant barrier to accessing key public services, particularly for the most vulnerable in society.”
The organization has urged countries in the region to strengthen the institutions involved in the detection, investigation, and prosecution of corruption related crimes.