One in three people in Latin America and the Caribbean had to pay a bribe to use a public service in the past year, according to a survey.
Transparency International (TI) said based on the estimated population of these countries, around 90m people paid bribes.
TI’s Global Corruption Barometer, covering Latin America and the Caribbean and based on a survey of 22,000, found 29% had paid a bribe. Two thirds (62%) said corruption had risen over the past 12 months.
More than half (53%) said their government was failing to address corruption.
José Ugaz, chair of TI, said: “The people of Latin America and the Caribbean are being let down by their governments and the private sector. Bribery represents a significant barrier to accessing key public services, particularly for the most vulnerable in society.”
The survey found just 9% reported to the authorities that they had paid a bribe and of those who did, 28% had suffered negative retaliation as a result.
Bribery was found to be most common in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, where 51% and 46% respectively had paid a bribe to access public services.
Across the region the services most commonly associated with bribes were healthcare, education and ID cards, while the police and politicians were perceived to be the most corrupt institutions.
TI said governments should strengthen anti-corruption institutions, lift political immunity for corruption cases, bolster police investigative capacity and create safe whistle-blowing channels.
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.