TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL RATES HONDURAS AMONG THE MOST CORRUPT IN THE REGION

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
02TEGUCIGALPA2556 11 September 2002 Solo uso oficial Embassy Tegucigalpa

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TEGUCIGALPA 002556

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

WHA/CEN, DRL, AND EB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KJUS, KDEM, PGOV, ECON, PHUM, HO
SUBJECT: TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL RATES HONDURAS AMONG
THE MOST CORRUPT IN THE REGION

REF: TEGUCIGALPA 01927

1. (U) SUMMARY: On August 29, Transparency International
released its 2002 Corruption Perceptions Index ranking
Honduras 71 of 102 countries analyzed. Honduras scored 2.7
on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being a perfect score) - the
same score it received in 2001. The CPI highlighted the fact
that Honduras is the third most corrupt country in Central
America, trailing Nicaragua and Guatemala. END SUMMARY.


THE INDEX


2. (U) Transparency International (TI) is the world,s
leading non-governmental organization dedicated to fighting
corruption. It is an international organization based in
Germany, which has more than 80 independent national chapters
around the world. First initiated in 1995, the 2002 CPI
draws on 14 different surveys that derive information from
both residents and expatriates - including business people,
academia and risk analysts. The CPI does not measure the
prevalence of actual corruption, but rather measures the
degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public
officials and politicians. The index provides a snapshot of
the views decision-makers who make key decisions on
investment and trade. The purpose of the CPI is to build
public awareness about corruption and to increase pressure on
governments to directly address the issue.

3. (U) TI defines corruption as the abuse of public office
for private gain. TI considers a variety of factors,
including the tendency of a country to receive international
bribes, the illicit enrichment of public officials, national
codes of conduct, the capability to identify cronyism,
transparency in the government acquisition system and public
access to information.


HONDURAS RECEIVES BAD MARK


4. (U) On August 29, TI released its 2002 CPI that ranked
Honduras number 71 out of a total of 102 countries analyzed.
Honduras received a score of 2.7 on a scale of 1 to 10 - 10
indicating the lowest level of corruption, or a "perfect"
score. This is the same score Honduras received in the 2001
CPI. According to the CPI Honduras is the third most corrupt
country in Central America, trailing only Nicaragua and
Guatemala (both with a score of 2.5). Costa Rica led the
Central American countries with a score of 4.5, while Chile
received the highest mark in all of Latin America with a
score of 7.5.

5. (U) German Espinal, coordinator of the technical agency
for the Honduran National Anticorruption Commission, said
that Honduras,s ranking in the CPI reflects deterioration of
the country,s democratic credibility, and signals the
challenge the government faces in trying to gain public
confidence.


BUT IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE


6. (U) President of TI Peter Eigen underscored the fact that
there have been a number of setbacks "to the credibility of
democratic rule" in Latin America in the past year.
Argentina joined Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua,
Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Haiti and Paraguay with a score
of 3 or less in the CPI 2002. Peru, Colombia, Mexico, El
Salvador, Panama, Argentina, Guatemala, Venezuela and Ecuador
all received lower scores in 2002 than in 2001. With scores
plunging in many Latin American countries, some observers
opine that Honduras,s score is not so bad.


COMMENT


7. (SBU) Reftel outlines recent anticorruption efforts in
Honduras and provides a summary of the strides that have been
made. There is no question that corruption is still
pervasive in Honduras, but there has been some measurable
progress. However, the positive developments that have
occurred have not been enough to adequately address the
problem, and as reflected in the CPI, the public confidence
of Hondurans has not improved.

PIERCE