Costa Rica's Long, Incomplete Struggle Against Corruption
15 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2016
Date Written: July 14, 2015
This chapter uses process tracing to track Costa Rica’s long transition from a particularistic to a universal ethical society. We detail the origins of Costa Rica’s anti-corruption success compared to its regional neighbours, which began in the early 20th century along with its democratization process, and was followed by four subsequent tipping points that spawned new limits on opportunities for corruption and enhances prosecutorial capacity against corrupt acts. Each of these tipping points enhanced corruption-free governance through the devolution of political power across the branches of government, the decoupling the executive branch’s control over state accountability agencies, the creation of new and the expansion of existing state anti-corruption agencies, and the removal of legal impediments on the media to investigate and publish stories about corrupt officials. For the most recent period, we detail the central role played by the media as an anti-corruption watchdog and identify cases where the media successfully initiated investigations. The analysis draws on primary research and interviews with former and current public officials, magistrates, historians, and investigators.
Keywords: Costa Rica, corruption, anti-corruption, accountability agencies, media, civil society
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