A Graft Machine’s Collapse Sows Chaos in the Caribbean

BloombergHipolito Polanco was locked in a primary against President Danilo Medina in the Dominican Republic when he got a phone call from a number he didn’t recognize.

It was January 2016, and Polanco, a 39-year-old lawyer, was the last candidate still standing to challenge the president for the Dominican Liberation Party nomination. The voice on the phone was offering him a bribe and a high-ranking political position if he quit the race. “They asked me, ‘What’s your price?’” says Polanco. “They said they would arrange everything.”

The woman who called him, he says, was Monica Moura, the wife and business partner of Joao Santana, the president’s longtime adviser and a powerful political guru in the country.

Polanco says he refused her offer. But it provides a window into how one of Brazil’s largest companies and its intermediaries entwined themselves in Dominican national politics, just as they had in at least 11 other countries. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

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