After years of trying to flee justice, Carlos Perla, returned to El Salvador today. Perla was the former head of ANDA, the Salvadoran water ministry. He is being charged with gross acts of corruption during his time there. Perla had fled to France and for more than a year had fought extradition, claiming that the charges against him in El Salvador were a political vendetta.
The Perla case brings into the spotlight the question of government corruption in El Salvador. Recently, Transparency International released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index. Although El Salvador ranks relatively well, (57th in the world, 8th in the Americas), its overall score of 4.0 qualifies the country as having serious perceived levels of corruption. As Transparency International works to show, corruption has a direct link to poverty:
“Corruption traps millions in poverty,” said Transparency International Chair Huguette Labelle. “Despite a decade of progress in establishing anti-corruption laws and regulations, today’s results indicate that much remains to be done before we see meaningful improvements in the lives of the world’s poorest citizens.”
The 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index is a composite index that draws on multiple expert opinion surveys that poll perceptions of public sector corruption in 163 countries around the world, the greatest scope of any CPI to date. It scores countries on a scale from zero to ten, with zero indicating high levels of perceived corruption and ten indicating low levels of perceived corruption.
A strong correlation between corruption and poverty is evident in the results of the CPI 2006. Almost three-quarters of the countries in the CPI score below five (including all low-income countries and all but two African states) indicating that most countries in the world face serious perceived levels of domestic corruption. Seventy-one countries - nearly half - score below three, indicating that corruption is perceived as rampant. Haiti has the lowest score at 1.8; Guinea, Iraq and Myanmar share the penultimate slot, each with a score of 1.9. Finland, Iceland and New Zealand share the top score of 9.6.