Nov 15-16, 2018: Will XXVI Ibero-American summit tackle regional corruption to meet its goal?
GUATEMALA - If the XXVI Ibero-American Summit in La Antigua puts muscle into building a Prosperous, Inclusive and Sustainable Ibero-America, the focus of the meeting, it will have to tackle corruption.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) describes corruption, which afflicts the host country and much of the region, as a hindrance to “sustainable and inclusive growth.” In its Sep 2017 report on Latin America the IMF observes that the region has seen its share of economic and political fallout from the affliction. It cites a scheme to shelter assets in Panama, Brazil’s Petrobras and Odebrecht scandals and Mexico’s conviction of several state governors.
Peru and the host country also see their share of the same affliction. Peru’s Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned as president in March amid a corruption scandal and another dogs the host country president, Jimmy Morales. He is on shaky ground politically after trying in Aug 2017 to expel the United Nations-backed anti-corruption chief who is investigating him and his party. The expulsion order was blocked just hours later by the country’s constitutional court. Álvaro Colom, arrested in January in a graft case, is the fourth former president of Guatemala to face corruption charges as a result of investigations led by an international panel of prosecutors trying to break up networks of corruption and end impunity.
It remains to be seen if the now-diminished summit, which brings together King Felipe VI of Spain, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa and the few Latin American leaders who choose to attend, is ready for collective action against a problem the IMF sees as undermining progress.
Typically, the ideological divisions between member countries make collective action difficult, but they were able to come together at the 25th summit in 2016 to decry Venezuelan president Victor Maduro’s efforts to remain in power.