Corruption is one of the main obstacles to economic development, overcoming poverty, and the strengthening of democratic institutions. During the last 15 years, the levels of corruption in many countries in Latin America have reached record highs. At the same time, the misuse of public funds has coincided with a revival of authoritarianism in some countries of the region, which has made public corruption an unsustainable phenomenon.
Authoritarian governments have focused on increasing their control over democratic institutions in order to undermine independent media and reporters in particular, through either using the judiciary to prosecute journalists, intimidating them physically and, in some cases, acquiring media outlets through proxies using complicated financial networks hidden in tax heavens. This has had a detrimental effect for reporters, newspapers and electronic news outlets, who have experienced constant threats to their attempts to expose the growing public corruption in Latin America through investigative journalism.
Consequently, many countries in region are witnessing a growing censorship of the press and are subject to increasing threats and intimidation when it comes to promoting serious investigative reporting. Additionally, the major media groups in the region have significantly reduced the amount of resources devoted to investigative journalism.
We will create a network of investigative journalists in each of the countries in the region and give both technological and financial support in order to promote investigative reporting on corruption, particularly in high-risk countries for independent journalism. We will generate an international platform for the public exposure of the cases investigated.
We will conduct original investigative projects on corruption in Latin America by working with our network of journalists and making such investigations the objects of publication by the Center and other media outlets in partnership.
We will create a database on corruption in Latin America, documenting the major cases in each country. We will begin with cases that occurred during the last 15 years; the database will be available to reporters in the U.S. and across the region, but also will be open to the general public, students and researchers, in order to promote discussion on the phenomenon.
We will create an observatory of freedom of the press and access to public information in Latin America. This observatory will monitor the difficulties that journalists endure to access and report on public information as well as the risks they face while working on investigative reporting in each country. We will produce public alerts and press releases to denounce cases in which reporters aren’t allowed to access public information, and the legal and security risks they face when exposing public corruption
The CIJA will act as a secure platform to receive and process information on public corruption in Latin America, which may help to start new investigative projects. The platform is aimed also to promote participation of the general public as a source in the fight against corruption.