For most of its history, Latin America has lived under authoritarian and elite rule where public decisions were often crafted in the shadows by cabinets and parliaments to the benefit of a small minority. Recently, the development of participatory political systems has brought some transparency to the policy-making process. Such scrutiny reveals evidence of the capture of aspects of policy-making by private interests that use obscure strategies to achieve their political goals. As a consequence, a widespread movement for regulating the role and tactics of interest groups emerged, which is seen as a necessary step to address the root causes of political corruption.
This article provides an overview of efforts to regulate lobbying in Latin America. It explains attempts at regulation in four countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru), evaluates the level of success of these efforts, and assesses prospects for the future regarding reducing corruption through the instrument of lobby regulations. The authors argue that such regulations alone cannot eliminate political corruption. However, lobby regulations can contribute to increased transparency and aid in developing an anti-corruption culture. It will be shown that lobby laws in Latin America exhibit many of the problems long identified with similar regulations across western democracies. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.