Posted November 21, 2017 by admin in Politics

Latin America’s voteathon

Anger at corruption is not the only factor in a slew of elections

IN THE annals of Latin American democracy, Marcelo Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction magnate, will occupy a place of unique infamy. From Mexico to Argentina and many places in between, his Brazilian construction company bribed presidents, ministers and candidates to win public contracts, setting a nefarious example that other firms followed. The damage to the public purses in padded contracts ran to over $3bn. The intangible cost to the credibility and prestige of democratic politics in Latin America is incalculable.

The reverberations from the Odebrecht scandal come at the worst possible time. Starting with Chile on November 19th, seven Latin American countries will choose presidents over the next 12 months. They include the two regional giants, Brazil and Mexico. An eighth, Venezuela, is due to vote by December 2018, though its dictator, Nicolás Maduro, is unlikely to allow a fair contest. A further six presidential ballots are due in 2019, not least in Argentina. The region’s political future is up for grabs.