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Events and reports of interest relating to anti-corruption efforts

LATIN AMERICA: CORRUPTION GREATEST THREAT TO DEMOCRACY



 

by diego cevallos 

quito, oct 1992 (ips) - the greatest threat to democracy in latin 
america is not communism or poverty, but the corruption which 
pervades nearly every aspect of public and private sector 
activities, experts gathered in ecuador said. 

university administration professors, public prosecutors and 
representatives from 18 countries, all said the democratic system 
must eliminate corruption or ''end up like the former communist 
countries.'' 

the issue was examined by 70 regional specialists during an 
oct. 27-29 conference in quito, sponsored by the new york public 
administration institute, the u.s. government, and ecuador's 
public accounting office. 

opinions on the causes of corruption ran from bad family 
upbringing and education, to political cronyism, nepotism, the 
existence of monopolies, low salaries, and inadequate laws. 

according to james wesberry, president of the new york 
institute of public administration, the meeting in quito gave 
officials from throughout latin america the opportunity to 
discuss strategies against the theft of public monies, influence 
peddling, and bribery. 

the participants said they will recommend that their 
governments introduce legal changes allowing for the immediate 
removal of officials involved in corrupt activites, as well as 
the depoliticization of the judicial systems, and the breakup of 
monopolies. 

other suggestions included making official dealings more open 
and transparent, seeking public support in rooting out 
corruption, and directly invlolving the media in discussing and 
covering the issue. 

Wesberry said that, although corruption occurs on a larger 
scale in developed countries, ''what happens in latin america is 
that it is less sophisticated and much more visible.'' 

luis moreno ocampo, former prosecutor for the argentine 
federal appeals court, said corruption is not based on ''race or 
culture,'' but instead is a result ''of the way the state is 
organised.'' 

ocampo, who investigated corruption by military dictatorships 
in his country, said ''in countries such as ours, a five percent 
payoff is customary.'' 

the former prosecutor said a 1992 regional investigation 
revealed that the wealthy are more involved in corruption than 
the poor. (more/ips) 
---- 

the only way to halt corruption is through the application of 
true democratic principles: real citizen participation and the 
proper excecution of state powers, ocampo said. 

robert klitgaard, an expert on corruption from yale 
university, in the united states, said one of the essential 
elements of democracy is ''openess.'' 

''if there are secrets kept, and if the people don't 
participate in decision making, corruption will be present,'' he 
said. 

klitgaard said all types of public and private monopolies must 
be eliminated if corruption is to be fought effectively. 

''i believe that corruption is the result of a flawed system, 
not individuals,'' he said. 

this position was questioned by venezuelan gustavo coronel, 
who directs the non-governmental organisation ''for the quality 
of life,'' and by costa rican government prosecuter hernan vega. 
both said that corruption is based on modern family values and 
upbringings, which stress only material and economic 
satisfaction. 

during the quito meeting, aristides junquera, brazil's 
attorney general, and antonio herrara, assistant attorney general 
of venezuela, discussed the investigative processes that brought 
down presidents fernando collor and carlos andres perez, in their 
respective countries. 

junquera and herrara said the results of the cases against 
their former presidents show that it is possible in a democracy 
to fight corruption, even at the highest levels. 

''if corruption is not dealt with as it was in brazil and 
venezuela, democracy will suffer the same fate as communism,'' 
 Wesberry said. 

according to carlos faidduti, general comptroler of ecuador, 
public sector corruption in latin america will only end with the 
elimination of cronyism and populism in the electoral processes. 

faidduti said that many government officials achieve their 
posts through political favours, rather than earning them 
honestly. 

faidduti, wesberry, moreno ocampo, and klitgaard all agreed 
that it is necessary to catch ''the big fish,'' rather than just 
minor officials, if public trust and support are to be won. 

''without the help of the press and the common people, the 
struggle against corruption will fail,'' they said. 

Third Inter American Conference on the Problems of Fraud and Corruption in Government : RESPONDACON III

Promoting Transparency and Accountability in Government

.

Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect

                     --- Mark Twain

We have never observed a great civilization with a population as old as the United States will have in the twenty-first century; we have never observed a great civilization that is as secular as we are apparently going to become; and we have had only half a century of experience with advanced welfare states...Charles Murray

Kella
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