Corruption Charges Are Flying in Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia

Corruption Charges Are Flying in Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia
A demonstrator holds an umbrella with the message, “No More Petro,” during a protest against the reform proposals of Colombian President Gustavo Petro, in Bogota, Colombia, Feb. 15, 2023 (Sipa photo by Chepa Beltran via AP Images).

Though Peru’s protests are nowhere near over, they have entered a quiet lull in recent weeks. But the rest of Peru’s neighbors in the Andes are now experiencing their own political challenges, with the presidents of Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia having all hit their own rough patches in recent weeks.

While the details of their political crises are different, two big trends connect them. First, the macroeconomic environment—including continued inflation, slow growth and high interest rates that make debt more expensive—has affected all three countries’ economies, leading to popular discontent and lower approval ratings for their leaders. The International Monetary Fund said last year in its economic forecast for 2023 that “the worst is yet to come.” While many of its projections for global growth have been revised upward in recent months, the challenges stacking up for much of Latin America mean that its original prediction of a bad year will likely come true in the region.

The second trend involves corruption allegations that could create difficulties for all three countries’ presidents. Most of the allegations don’t directly implicate the president, though some involve family members. Others are backed by weak evidence. But all three countries’ populations are primed for anger at political elites. So piling corruption allegations on top of economic challenges will make it more difficult for these leaders to assemble a political coalition to get their agendas passed.

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