Editorial from Pagina Siete, photos from the internet when searching for “corruption in Bolivia”:
From “zero corruption” to “zero tolerance”
When he assumed the command of the country, on January 22, 2006, President Evo Morales raised three objectives that began with the word “zero.” Management was proposed with “zero cocaine, zero drug trafficking”, “zero nepotism” and “zero corruption”.
Clearly he has not been able to fulfill any of those objectives that were part of the discursive demagogy of his first day of government. Needless to say, no government would be able to do it.
Last weekend, the President acknowledged that he had not been able to fulfill the promise of “zero corruption” and made a fundamental adjustment to the phrase to say that, from now on, the objective will be “zero tolerance for corruption.”
It is good that the president has noticed that corruption is a problem and that he has decided to be intolerant of this practice, but it must be noted that he does so after almost 14 years of remaining in power and after a wave of cases that enrage the Government and other State departments. Many of the complaints, it should be noted, were made known by the Ministry of Transparency.
Among the cases of most recent publication is the one involving the director of the State Housing Agency (AE Vivienda), regional Chuquisaca, Irineo Condori, who charged bribes of up to Bs200,000 to the contractor companies, according to the complaint. Condori, who is now imprisoned, was a legislator of the MAS and according to the testimonies, he was collecting for a new campaign heading to the Legislative.
Shortly after another case was heard in Riberalta, where the councilors of the MAS, Wilmer Endara and Óscar Marcelo Serrate charged bribes also of Bs200 thousand for the adjudication of works. Both were sent to jail.
Almost in parallel it was learned of irregularities committed in the Unit for the Execution of the Comprehensive Fight against Drug Trafficking (Uelicn), under the Ministry of Government, where a single company was awarded 42 of the 46 existing contracts and three officials received a total of Bs71,000 in their private accounts. For greater certainty of illegality, the university student’s son of a functionary received Bs120,000 from the contractor company in payment for an alleged consultancy. In this case, there are no defendants arrested and the Prosecutor’s Office has acted leniently.
Two other acts of corruption have taken place in the Police during this administration. At the beginning of the year, a network of illegal collections was discovered at Anapol, where unqualified students had paid up to $12,000 to enter the Academy. Due to this fact, 11 people are detained.
Recently, the ex-commander of the Oruro Police Rómmel Raña was sent to prison after an accusation which indicates that he charged large sums of money for the designations of the police and for letting smuggled trucks pass by.
In these cases we must add a couple that have been discovered in the Judicial Branch. One of them in Chuquisaca, where the registrar judge Hugo Jamil SM was arrested for “ordering cancellations of items, preventive notes, data modifications in the line of Royal Rights,” according to the complaint of the Minister of Transparency, Hector Arce. And the other case happened in Santa Cruz, where a judicial officer, who was in charge of the windows of collection of judicial services, stole Bs545 thousand.
The list could continue in the municipalities, but this is as far as we will reach with the most up-to-date and recent cases involving officials of the Executive and Judicial branches.
The President has plenty of reasons to be worried and to propose a real fight against corruption.
The issue seems to get out of hand because it has spread the idea that “now it’s our turn”, a phrase that the President usually uses every time he reproaches his officials for corruption.
The fact is that now it’s up to the President to put a stop to this scourge or his already worn out image will be more than affected.