Thank you very much. Initially I want to greet our organizers. The truth that we are honored to participate in this event, and we want to thank those who make it possible for all of us to be gathered here sharing; and through Gabriela Lara, we also want to express a feeling of gratitude to Mr. William Soto Santiago, our great Ambassador for Peace; and hopefully soon we will have him together with us sharing this type of activities.
I want to greet all those present: authorities, colleagues, original people’s authorities that I also see participating in this activity, and of course, our panelists; through coordination, I extend it to our representative friends from other countries.
Well, I have had a very sensitive issue, and I have also noticed that we need to work with great prudence. That is why I am going to tell you very quickly about a methodology that we are going to use so that we all find ourselves in the work we are going to develop.
I am going to present you with a motivational video (which, please, I want to exclude any type of comment regarding the background of the video), however it will allow us to illustrate the essence of what we want to talk about, the corruption and the effect of the corruption on tranquility and peace in our societies. That is why this video will allow us to start work in a very motivated way.
Later, I want to express some concepts, also some elements of challenge for us to reflect on, and end with some conclusions that we can do together.
The topic that we are going to deal with has to do with a deep reflection on corruption as a transversal element in the current government efforts in all our countries; that is why I am going to exclude myself from issuing any value judgment on who steals the most, or in which country there is more or less corruption.
We are going to leave those topics for the institutions that work in the corresponding statistics and you will be able to access that very easily. Nor will I tell you a very specific experience of my country, but rather I will devote myself to the conceptual part so that we can share it with you. For this, I am going to ask our organization if we can present a video that lasts two minutes and that you may pay attention to what this video symbolizes in an emblematic moment of corruption in one of our countries. Please.
Thank you very much. This is one of the videos that ran around the world and shows us that the issue of corruption does really complicate the relationship between voters and constituents, between citizens and governments, between related sectors of a State in society; and, of course, it is a dissociating factor of peace.
That is why it is important to conceptualize that one of the elements that is complicating our life in harmony and peace is corruption, as an important factor in the activity of government management.
I have wanted to investigate a little about the concepts of corruption and I want to share some of them with you, without also expressing my inclination for any of them —make your conclusions. And it seems to me that there are contradictory elements that will allow us to reflect deeply.
Look, Rousseau already at the time of the French Revolution, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, told us that "man is born good, it is society that corrupts him"; a pure concept and in essence what is the origin of the feeling of man.
However, there are other current ones, such as Carlos Dossi, who told us that "corruption is present in all men; it is only a question of quantities.”
It is a subject that already within the concepts, there is a diametrically opposed contradiction: Either we are born pure and in essence we are not corrupt and it is the environment that corrupts us, or, finally, it is us human beings that are born with the corruptible tendency and that in the end there will come a time when a certain amount will make us corrupt.
I am left with a contradiction on the stage so that in due course we reflect and discuss them.
Corruption in countries has acquired characteristics of systematicity, that is to say, it has already become systemic, and it works as a gear that practically moves the high spheres of rulers.
Deserving special treatment, I believe that the major premise today is that corruption must be combated, and that is why we are going to start from that premise in order to reflect on the issue of corruption.
They say that "corruption undoubtedly persists to a certain degree, regardless of the improvements achieved in public management."
“Poor public management creates greater incentives and possibilities for corruption.” Surely that is an affirmation that we can leave very clearly established.
There are other types of concepts about corruption. I put them under consideration so that you can internalize some of them:
"Corruption can be defined as abuse of authority or trust for private gain; and it is temptations in which not only public officials fall, but also people who occupy positions of trust or authority in private companies or non-profit organizations."*A modern concept of corruption.
Corruption according to the Royal Academy of Sciences, says that: “It is the action and effect of corrupting, perverting, or donating in exchange for benefit to itself.” A very academic concept from the Royal Academy.
“Corruption is related to the loss of values and the increase of ambition.” I think that is also an important element within the concepts of corruption.
And I also keep this one; and in this particularly I believe that it has a broader and purer approach (within pure thought), it says that: "Corruption is the simple deviation of a natural structure."
"The simple deviation of a natural structure"; later, maybe we can interpret it in a deeper way. But corruption with this concept does not only go to public governance schemes. We can find corruption in justice schemes, in social schemes, corruption in environmental schemes, because the fact of "simply diverting structures" means "corrupting the natural course," and that is why, I believe this concept to be one of the most important concepts that we should internalize in this type of activities.
There are many hypotheses and affirmations that have been handled around these concepts, which I also want to share with you, and I propose that we evaluate some questions that we ask ourselves as a collective at the time of making these statements, and I think that many of us have done them when talking about issues of corruption. Let's see:
When the individual becomes a politician and comes to power, does his vision of values change? Because one is the individual who is not political and does not have the power, and often another is the same individual, politically and with power. So the question is: Do we change depending on the scenario that is presented to us? That is one of the great hypotheses about the concepts of corruption.
The other is: If we had the power, would we act differently from those that rule? Many times, some seek the power only to do as those that rule do, or to have what the rulers have, and I think that happens to us transversally in all our social schemes. So the question there goes: If we had the power, would we act the same or different?
Who is the one that corrupts? And this is a question posed by some philosophical schemes that are a little more complicated, but says: the one that generates the action of corrupting, the one that receives, the one that gives, or the one that has the prejudice of corruption against those that rule?
Many times it is the people who, without knowing who the head of state is, already have the prejudice of corruption of their head of state; and I think that that is where the beginning of a process of corruptible action starts.
I am not issuing any bias on the subject and I leave it there so that you can reflect on these elements.
And beyond the politicians, the question is: Do we corrupt the environment when we alter its equilibrium? Do we corrupt food when we alter its genetic structure? Do we corrupt justice when we alter the logical and just course of a legal situation? We socially corrupt an original nation or people when we divert their reality of life in balance with their ecosystem?
Then they are elements that already go beyond the concept of corruption only oriented to the administration of the political schemes, and I believe that many authors have begun to introduce these new corruption schemes, which is precisely oriented to that first concept that told you is one of the broader concepts of corruption: "corruption is the simple deviation of a structure.” Deflecting or breaking that structure generates a corruptible effect of reality.
Then it is another element that will allow us to reflect on the process of reflection that, or forgiveness, in the work process we have regarding it, and logically I leave them there as an additional element.
This allows us to identify many things, but there are... after having evaluated some hypotheses and questions that we ask ourselves about the subject of corruption, there are affirmations that are also —for their eight— bluntly incorporated within that debate.
Let's see, some of them that I have been able to recover and that I want to put them under consideration, very clear affirmations and bluntness regarding corruption:
“A single person cannot hold all the power.” Within the political schemes is a very complicated and dangerous element, which many authors have identified as an initial element of corruptible processes.
“A single person does not change a country or a world. Yes, one person can change the thinking of another.” And I believe that Gandhi has shown us that in history, that with his peaceful ways and mechanisms of rejecting certain schemes that he considered to have violated his own rights, he has changed the thinking of one, another, and another person, and that finally changed societies.
I think this is one of the elements that motivate us to start identifying lights of solution in the tunnel. We alone are not going to change the world, but we do have the effect of changing someone, and to the extent that we act on that exponential multiplying effect of change and transformation, societies can change with certainty.
One of the greatest examples of modernity is social networks, which allow us to socialize information and modify thought structures through an exponential multiplier effect. I think that this is one of the most important concepts that will allow us to also consolidate some conclusion criteria regarding the scenario we are going to work on.
There is a very clear assertion about corruption that says: "It's not just about changing a structure, it's about making the most of it personally." The moment in which structures are changed with the interest of a personal benefit, it is already a willing and hateful act against the morals and ethics of every person, with certainty.
Well, these are elements that allow us to arrive at reflections, affirmations, and much more interesting criteria in this regard.
And, what has been done in our countries on these issues?
For example, the tightening of laws against corruption and penalties for this crime is important. It has been one of the actions that all countries have taken. But even more crucial is that the States addresses the fundamental problems of public management that may be susceptible to stimulate corruption.
That is to say, our countries have already begun to advance in some elements that are transversal. I can’t imagine a country that has not, first, hardened the penalties for corruption offenses. I believe that all of us in our regulations have incorporated these cross-cuttings. We have also incorporated elements that have to do with normative, legislative innovations, in order to prevent corruption schemes. The question is: Are they working?
If control is the exercise by the entities created according to the procedures established in their organization plans, there is currently an incipient development of policies, strategies, programs, or other actions that involve overcoming the low levels of transparency in public management. We have not overcome the low levels of transparency and it is a cross-section of which we can speak about.
In Bolivia we have problems of corruption; Panama, we have corruption problems; in all the Latin American countries, I think, we have the cross-section, but the moral reserve (we spoke with someone), the moral reserve, that we had in the world, which was a bit Asian on part of the culture, also has problems of corruption.
Europe, many of its countries have problems of corruption within the administration of the State. It is already a problem that is widespread in the world and that so far can’t find a solution.
There is a lack of a more dynamic approach in the promotion of policies and the creation of administrative systems to eliminate opportunities for bribery, corruption, and fraudulent activities in the management of public resources.
In many of our countries there is a range of standards related to citizen participation and social control. I think that at some point we found the possibility of solving the problems: control mechanisms, citizen participation, and social control; All of us, all countries within our regulations have that mainstream.
The problem that has been identified as very common and transversal in this also, is the lack of independence of some organs of state power. I do not know if you happens to you all, but I know many countries that do not have that independence and that in one way or another the mechanisms of regulation and control can’t exercise their role due to interference, due to intrusion, by the cooptation of some body specific, mainly the executive, that absorbs the work of these fiscal control mechanisms of the State. And obviously that is one of the problems that are mainstream in all our countries. These internal control bodies of the State exist under very clear regulations, the problem is that they do not work; and I think that is one of the big problems identified.
Finally we arrived (to reach conclusion, I do not know how much ... with how much time I spent, the coordinator is kind of looking my way here).
The issue happens because it seems that the solution is very simple from the conceptual and academic point of view, and it is very difficult from the practical point of view.
Let's see, if it is the fiscal control mechanisms, if it is the preventive mechanisms, if it is the control mechanisms exist and don’t work, the solution is to make them work. Conceptually we are giving the solution but really that solution does not exist, because there is no will and political decision of the head of state to make this work.
I believe that one of the great reflections we can do here is that if we can find the formula of independence in the functioning of these bodies, we have taken a giant step to look for preventive and coercive mechanisms for acts of corruption, mainly in the high spheres of the State.
And I think that the word that is so easily written and with such difficulty is the practice that will allow us to move forward on these issues. Today, very interesting initiatives have come out, that I share and that those who preceded me in their presentations spoke about them: the Inter-American Charter, finding joint mechanisms of coordination so that we can have regulations that guarantee the functioning of all these mechanisms that will avoid corruption and will make the administration of our States more transparent.
That's why I think that today we take a lot of wealth within what was proposed. And I want to leave you in the presentation (that you will have it in your hands and will surely be on the website of ParlAmericas) a series of other alternatives, which can be —as conclusions— part of the solutions to the subject.
But there is something that I liked very much (and I wrote it down with a pen) that Dr. William Soto Santiago left us as a message, he says ... First he told us that the political exercise involves certain risks and deviations, he told us at the beginning of his dissertation, but he talks to us of creating councils of explorers for peace, to be able to begin to coordinate, to generate networks of coordination among politicians, that allow us to advance in all this legislation of modern, efficient legislation, to fight against this great scourge that is lacerating the administration of our States.
And that is why I believe that forming these types of networks, to conform ... to begin to work on that Inter-American Charter on Corruption, to begin to generate an international corruption tribunal that is not limited to what the schemes of internal control within our States are, these will be very important international actions to be able to advance in a modern mechanism to guarantee the efficiency and transparency of the State.
I, to not abuse the time that has been given, I'm going to end there, thanking all of you once again for the time you have allowed us to accompany you on this occasion; and I leave pleasantly surprised by the organization, by the participation, and by the how this type of activities is carried out that leaves us a great benefit for all humanity.
Thank you very much, congratulations to you, and applause for you. Very kind.
Many thanks to the Bolivian senator, Víctor Hugo Zamora. Without a doubt, we will all agree that corruption is a very sensitive issue, that many proposals have been made so far but that they can’t be consolidated or do not work. But it turns out that instead of ending corruption we are moving forward, and there are new ways of doing it; and as Senator Zamora says, that as a major premise: We must fight corruption.