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Setbacks and Progress: Costa Rica’s Fight Against Corruption

According to the Capacity to Combat Corruption Index (CCC) of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas and Control Risks, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Chile have been leading the charge in the fight against corruption in the region. However, the recent report highlights a setback in the region’s overall progress, marking a decrease in the average score for the first time since 2020. Notably, Costa Rica’s performance witnessed a decline, with its overall score dropping by 5%.

The CCC index distinguishes itself by assessing and ranking the effectiveness of nations in combating corruption, rather than relying on perceived corruption levels. Higher scores indicate a better ability to prosecute and punish corrupt actors. The report emphasizes that both top-ranked and lower-ranked countries, including Guatemala, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Costa Rica, experienced declines, indicating that no nation is immune to stagnation or regression in the fight against corruption.

Despite the setback, Costa Rica managed to maintain its second-place ranking with an overall score of 6.76, surpassed only by Uruguay’s score of 6.99. However, this year’s score reflects a drop of 0.35 points, which is the third-highest decline in the region.

The CCC Index specifically points out setbacks in key indicators related to Costa Rica’s chief public prosecutor’s office, campaign finance, and the quality of the press. Nevertheless, the country still retained its top-three ranking in these variables, indicating some resilience in the face of challenges.

The report highlights the government’s platform to combat corruption, which includes the implementation of monetary compensation in certain cases. Additionally, political campaign financing emerges as a significant area of concern, with ongoing investigations into several political parties’ financing during the 2022 campaign.

Freedom of the press has also suffered setbacks in Costa Rica, with concerns raised about criticism of independent news outlets by Chaves, a figure of authority. These developments underline the importance of protecting and upholding press freedom as a cornerstone in the fight against corruption.

The CCC identifies two critical issues to monitor in Costa Rica: the cochinilla case, one of the country’s largest corruption scandals, and its inclusion in the European Union’s non-cooperative countries for tax purposes. These cases underscore the need for comprehensive efforts to combat corruption at both the national and international levels.

While setbacks are discouraging, they can serve as a catalyst for renewed efforts and reforms. The report’s findings provide valuable insights for Costa Rica and other countries in the region to reassess their strategies and strengthen their institutions to combat corruption effectively. Sustained commitment, transparency, and accountability will be crucial in restoring and surpassing the previous progress made in the fight against corruption in Costa Rica.

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