In 2021, Secretary Blinken launched the International Anti-Corruption Champions Award to recognize courageous individuals who counter corruption, combat impunity, and build transparent and accountable systems – often at great personal risk. This week, Secretary Blinken and I had the honor of meeting with three of our 2021 Anti-corruption Champion Awardees from across Latin America while in Panama City, Panama.
As we know too well, corruption undermines efforts to strengthen democracy, build more prosperous economies, uphold the rule of law, maintain security and stability, and protect human rights. Corruption causes many citizens to lose hope for a prosperous and secure future at home.
To combat these effects, the United States relies on strong partners who work tirelessly in their home countries and around the world to hold corrupt actors accountable and educate their fellow citizens on why the fight against corruption and impunity matters. The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is proud to support our allies in the fight against corruption, and provide assistance when corrupt networks fight back.
- Carlos Paparoni (far left) served as the Presidential Commissioner Against Corruption and Terrorism for the Venezuelan Interim Government. He produced financial intelligence and analysis that proved essential to constricting the illicit financial flows of the Venezuelan regime. His analysis uncovered that 98 percent of the regime’s allocated budget for food subsidies appears to have been stolen – directly contributing to food insecurity and malnutrition in Venezuela.
- Diana Salazar (second from left), Ecuador’s Attorney General, prosecuted some of the Andean region’s highest-profile corruption cases, demonstrably improved the anti-corruption atmosphere in Ecuador, and served as a role model to judges, lawyers, and prosecutors throughout South America. Salazar’s courageous actions in tackling these cases have made immense contributions to transparency and the rule of law in Ecuador.
- Juan Francisco Sandoval Alfaro (third from left), Former Chief Prosecutor for the Special Prosecution Office Against Impunity (FECI), has succeeded in battling persistent and systemic corruption in Guatemala. He was instrumental in the investigation and conviction of former President Alfonso Portillo and two ministers on charges relating to money laundering and the embezzlement of $15 million.
As Secretary Blinken stated in his remarks, “We are incredibly gratified that we have champions who at great, often personal risk, as well as professional risk, are leading the effort to uncover corruption, to create greater transparency in their societies, to prosecute those responsible.” We are honored to learn from and work alongside champions like these great partners in our collective effort to prevent and combat corruption.
About the Author: Heide Fulton serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.