How prevalent is corruption in Latin America and how have governments fared in efforts to tackle corrupt practices in the past decade? Finding an accurate answer to these questions is difficult, as corruption is, by its very nature, tricky to measure. It usually leaves no paper trail and assessments of the level of corruption in a particular country tend to depend on perceptions of corruption, which are likely to be tainted by individual cases and experience.
In addition, corruption in one area – for example, in the local police force – is not necessarily an indication that corruption is widespread in other institutions.
That said, several international organisations have made methodological progress in recent years in their efforts to rank countries according to their comparative transparency. The Berlin-based NGO Transparency International (TI) publishes the most comprehensive and well-regarded international index – the Annual Corruption Perceptions Index – which scores and ranks countries on how corrupt the public sector is perceived to be.