RIO DE JANEIRO — The biggest corruption investigation in Latin America history began, humbly enough, at a Brazilian gas station, but as it steamrollered across the region, it took down top government officials and corporate titans alike. For those caught up in the scandal, it was a moment of reckoning. For ordinary citizens, it was something else: a moment of hope. Even the most powerful, it appeared, were finally being held to account. Now, five years after the scandal exploded into public view, the region's drive against corruption has begun to stall. "For a brief moment in time, everyone was within the reach of justice," said Thelma Aldaña, a former attorney general of Guatemala who indicted the country's president and vice president in a corruption case in 2015 and became one of the emblematic figures of the crackdown. That crackdown came after years of high commodities prices that buoyed many economies in the region, lifting millions out of poverty — but also feeding government spending and therefore opportunities for graft. When that period of plenty ended, it left government officials vulnerable, and prosecutors free to pursue the powerful. In Peru, former President Alan García shot himself to death rather than… Read full this story
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