“Corruption is the big weakness of Latin America”


“Corruption is the big weakness of Latin America”

 Maria Eugenia Aspiazu Nebel was born in Caracas on April 23rd of 1965; she lived in Venezuela until April 1974 and in Ecuador until 2003.She use to write a column in “El Telégrafo” a newspaper from Ecuador. She has been living in Spain since 2003.

The perception of how rich or how poor people are is relative. Many people wrongly think that there is no middle class in South America, that is not so. The difference is that without a strong free health care program and quality free education, the quality of life of the middle class is not comparable to that of the first world. Prizes are lower, so are taxes. For instance, in Ecuador a gallon of gas (4 liters) costs 0, 25 cts of a dollar, so a basic expense like filling your tank of gas is lower that what it would be in Europe.  On the other hand, indigenous population refuses to integrate, much like the gypsies in Spain, and that condemns them to poverty and exclusion. Still the truth is that South America is incredible rich in every possible natural resource but somehow this richness doesn’t translate to the lives of their people.  The reason for that is corruption.

Corruption is the big weakness of Latin America. For some sad unknown reason these countries had never been able to move past the picaresque culture of the 16th century. Rich as they are that richness ends up in politician pockets and it’s not invested in the country. Also, the bureaucracy has no understanding of production. Without clear rules and legal protection, no industry or business can survive for long. The moment someone is successful, they will attract the greed and envy of local authorities who will manage to appropriate their businesses, take them apart and make a quick profit, destroying thousands of jobs in the process and blocking any possibility of progress.

A very good example is what happened in Argentina during Peron’s presidency. When Peron arrived into power, Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world; it had the fourth largest gold reserve in the world. Evita’s populist gestures, expropriating industries and businesses from those who opposed their regime, often to give it to one of their supporters, and giving away checks in moving, public, well advertised ceremonies, destroyed the country’s economy and left it in ruins. Her legend, though, remains.
This happens in a lesser scale in every country, now and then.

Another example is what is happening in Venezuela, both in Chavez and in Maduro’s eras. A very good example is what happened in Argentina during Peron’s presidency. When Peron arrived into power, Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world; it had the fourth largest gold reserve in the world. Evita’s populist’s gestures, expropriating industries and businesses from those who opposed their regime, often to give it to one of their supporters, and giving away checks in moving, public, well advertised ceremonies, destroyed the country’s economy and left it in ruins. Her legend, though, remains.
This happens in a lesser scale in every country, now and then.

Chavez was a very smart man who was a PR prodigy. It is not easy for a Latin American president to be known outside their countries, let alone to become a major player in the world’s political stage. He built a devote following when he exchanged oil for teachers and doctors with Cuba, send the underemployed military to build highways and created good access road to the misery belt that surrounds Caracas. Many Venezuelan, especially those living in remote parts of the country, went from living the Middle Ages to the 20th century in five years; people who have been neglected for years while corruption made the huge revenues disappear into mansions, yachts, and all sort of gaudy luxury for the new rich crazed bureaucracy.  He was also witty and funny, his histrionics at the UNO (“It smells like sulphur” etc) still bring smiles to people’s faces.
That said, he also did what every populist does best: subsidize utilities (water is more expensive than gasoline in Venezuela), set politic prices to basic products, making production unviable, and make big made up scandals targeting well know financial or industrial figures that allowed him to strip them of their hard built businesses “in favor of the revolution”.

Maduro is not Chavez. He is a former leader from the bus driver union, whose principal claim to fame was not being smart enough to threatened Chavez leadership, which left it as the last man standing after other more intelligent but far less docile “compañeros” were brushed aside. That’s how he came to power. He is now trying to hold together a country that imports everything except oil, an economy in shambles, and a society in the brink of civil war, torn between Chavez nostalgic and people who have had it with abuse of power, violence, the highest criminality rate in South America, rampant corruption, shortage of almost about everything, etc.
He has neither the political savvy, nor the brains, nor the local support, nor the international allies to steer the country to safe port.

 

Muriel Balda Aspiazu

Anuncios

Los comentarios están cerrados.

A %d blogueros les gusta esto: