Latin America is a diverse region made up of 33 countries where democracy is strained, barring a few notable exceptions. The region’s resource richness and development needs in the infrastructure, energy, and telecommunications sectors have led to increased investments in recent years. CIPE works with partners in the region to analyze the impact of significant capital flows from opaque origins.
CIPE and its partners have identified precarious loan repayment structures tied to commodities as collateral, such as oil and gas, which undermine recipient countries’ future financial stability. Additional practices such as poor transparency in procurement processes, bribery, backdoor dealing, and subverting national labor and environmental regulations have been observed. The extent of these practices depends on the enforcement of legal and regulatory protection in national legislation and varies widely throughout the region. Partners have identified institutional strengths that repel authoritarian capital’s corrosive effects just as they have identified cases of Corrosive Capital subverting democratic governance norms. CIPE continues to work with its partners throughout the region to identify institutional strengths and shortcomings to formulate policy recommendations to protect democratic institutions while promoting growth.
CIPE’s Corrosive and Constructive Initiative Objectives in the Region:
- Identify governance gaps that allow Corrosive Capital to infiltrate the region;
- Collaborate with diverse stakeholders to create recommendations to close governance gaps and other opportunities for by Corrosive Capital; and
- Raise awareness and support for corrective recommendations to foster an investment environment that respects national laws, is accountable to stakeholders, and responds to market demand.
Although CIPE works in several countries in the region, specific projects are highlighted below.
In Argentina, CIPE is partnering with the think tank, Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC), to identify governance gaps in key public infrastructure projects that allow capital to flow through mechanisms that avoid analysis and control processes. In recent years, CIPPEC found several documented cases of foreign state companies, from countries such as China, Russia, and Venezuela, being awarded public works contracts by the Argentinian government with no public tender or competitive bidding, despite these projects being financed on commercial terms. These projects include the rehabilitation of the Belgrano Cargas Network, the construction of two hydropower electric plants in the Santa Cruz River, and two nuclear power plants, among others. CIPPEC has investigated two more opportunity areas to strengthen the governance of infrastructure investments from foreign countries by analyzing the three main mechanisms to finance these projects: traditional public works, international financing (soft loans or multilateral organisms), and Public-Private Partnerships. Their report will be published shortly and available on this site.
In Chile, CIPE partners with the Fundación para el Progreso (FPP). Preliminary project conclusions show that strong Chilean institutions have effectively repelled Corrosive Capital. Public procurement decisions are separated from political ones, lessening incentives that cause decision-makers to accept capital that can have corrosive effects on democratic governance. Legal requirements and regulatory norms are enforced and respected in the country. Regardless, FPP identified several recommendations to continue to protect democratic institutions in the country. These include reforms focused on improving access to detailed and public information, such as creating an Ultimate Beneficial Ownership Registry that would increase transparency in private investments and a foreign direct investment screening procedure to increase transparency in public investments. Their report on the Chilean scenario will be published shortly and available on this site.
- John Zemko, Regional Director, Latin America and Caribbean
- Catherine Gibson, Program Officer, Latin America and Caribbean