Sunday, 31 July 2011

Cleaning up the sty in the Land of Grace

We, civilians, need to explain how we are going to get Venezuela out of the mess - even before we vote the military regime out of power. Explaining how we will do it will speed up the process and improve the chances of stability and progress for Venezuela after the change.

Cleaning up: we have to do it on a permanent basis

Countless individuals have proclaimed since colonial times that they were going to fight corruption only to break new records on crookedness once they came to power. One example is that of military caudillo José Tadeo Monagas, who claimed to be fighting for the poor and against oligarcs but who instituted, together with his brother José Gregorio, the Monagas Dinasty and ended up being chased from power with the crowd shouting "death to the thieves". That is just the general rule in Venezuela.

Hero, Dictator, Thief
Can we set up mechanisms that are fool-proof and Venezuelan-proof to fight and actually reduce corruption?

The first thing we need to realise is there is absolutely no mechanism that can function perfectly all the time. Fighting corruption will need to be like fighting a virus: there is a constant race and you have to outsmart the evil creature time after time because it is bound to mutate over and over again. Any system for transparency and accountability has to be reviewed on a permanent basis and the reviewers cannot come from one single party but from the whole society.

Once we understand that, we can start proposing some real rules that may, willy-nilly, force the country towards more honesty.

Let's begin with this:

1) every contract between the Venezuelan national government or any regional government with a value higher than Bs 10000 must be published on the Internet for everyone to see. People would see details about the company and about the state functionaries signing in. No company can get a zillion contracts fo Bs 9999 to circumvent this.

2) FONDEN, the billionaire "Fund for Development", now used as the Chávez piggy bank and Bolivourgeois black box, must be fully transparent. Every piece of information about every dollar or Bolívar spent needs to be put online. Only a small amount of the Defence budget can be hidden from the general public but the accounts about this must be checkup up by a 10-member commission of the National Assembly made up of deputies from the current government and the opposition. The leader of such commission must be elected by random selection and changed every 6 months.

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