1. What to do about corruption? Change the laws? Change the culture? Above all, act. Laws are useless if they aren’t applied, as are values that aren’t instilled. Our penal code typifies a large range of crimes against the public, how about we start applying it?
2. For big things, big solutions. If corruption is overflowing in the institutional mechanisms, it’s imperative to strengthen them. Since half way through the last century, all the Venezuelan presidents have had Extraordinary Powers. According to number 8 of article 236 of the constitution, an enabling law should bestow powers on the elected president in order to legislate by decree, on among other topics, corruption. Shame on those who oppose it.
3. A bad thing that spans all the state powers should be fought by all of them. The legislative power should pass a drastic anti-corruption law. In the same way, it should broaden authorisations and responsibilities against corruption through precise reforms to the Organic Law of National Public Tax Revenue, the Organic Law of General Auditing of the Republic, the Law of Public Administration, the Organic Law of Decentralised Public Administration, the Organic Law of General Prosecution of the Republic, the Organic Law of the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic, and the Penal Code, among others.
4. If you plant red tape, you’ll harvest corruption. The situation makes the thief and the red tape the administrator. A harvest of new laws isn’t enough; a pruning of requirements and useless proceedings is required. With the Law for the Simplification of Administrative Procedures at hand, the executive power should start to study the procedures demanded so that each citizen can enjoy their rights, with the aim of speeding-up and eliminating redundant or unnecessary procedures. Real and functional information from the administration should be achieved. No deck chair information, with websites that never open or that go and take a siesta. Even less, pedestrian information that obliges the unhappy citizen to start the procedure on the computer to then conclude it with a manila folder on foot. It wouldn’t hurt to have an office which follows the irresistible growth of some vernacular fortunes and carries out an up-to-date study of the movement of capital from neighbouring countries and its possible legitimisation in our country.
5. The Judicial Power should sentence relentlessly, apply the powers of the judiciary in order to ensure the correct functioning of the judges and tribunals, and suggest the necessary reforms to the legislative, above all to the cautionary measures; a favourite resource of corrupt people and of financial criminals so that they can be let out on bail and flee the country.
6. Corruption in Venezuela has historic roots. Maybe a means of production is nothing more than a means of stabilised corruption. The conquest was a colossal looting operation which used force to appropriate common goods and work for the benefit of a negligible minority. In colonial caste society official posts were sold and their discriminatory stratification was prolonged during the republic, leaving fast wealth as the main resource for social ascent. The oligarchic republic and other systems maintained this unequal distribution of the wealth from larceny. With the explosion of the petroleum and mining based economy, public goods and earnings overtook the private economy, and a batch of newly rich and newly corrupt people came out of the trafficking of concessions and the milking of the state. Efficient judicial and accountable institutional systems to compel faultless management of public things haven’t been created. And even when they exist, they aren’t applied, and that’s why some politicians have indicated that in Venezuela there are no reasons to rob. Just as there is no legal punishment, nor is there a social punishment. The only punishment is the collective one, which ends up consigning the unburied cadaver in the waste dump of history, where the Fourth Republic was brought down, and where we hope that hope doesn’t come to an end.
7. So we end where we should have begun. The most important power is the social one. Corruption will decline when it is loathed instead of celebrated. Grassroots organisations should implement social auditing and monitoring of the fulfilling of tasks by the administration and denounce failures there. The education system should consolidate the values of solidarity, cooperation, and selflessness instead of pillaging. The media should combat the culture of larceny and wealth at any cost. Educational sermons are worth nothing in the presence of gangster-dramas or the glorifying of corrupt people trapped red-handed. Corruption begins in the spirit. We get the shivers every time that we see principles compromised, values haggled over, or revolutionaries sell their souls to opportunists.
Translated by Tamara Pearson for Venezuelanalysis.com