Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Corruption in Venezuela: the Lady does protest too much

Transparency International publishes a yearly index where it ranks the different countries according to their perceived global corruption. This measure is by definition always subjective since after all some of the countries ranked might consider some practices normal that would be looked in horror in some other countries. However there is a certain methodology (surveys, actual measurement, interviews, etc…) in the measuring of subjectivity to give some confidence to the result and usually it seems to work well. Countries which seems to function reasonably well, with a reasonably independent judicial system seem to always rank on top. And countries which are in a permanent messy state, and who usually rely on some strong leader to solve their problem tend to rank at the bottom. Thus no reader of this blog should be surprised that Venezuela ranks in the bottom positions of the survey.

Now, the only person that does not seem to agree with this year result, which placed Venezuela in a dismal 130 out of 158 measured countries, is the vice president Jose Vicente Rangel, who in a fit declared that actually Transparency International was BOUGHT! Imagine that!!! He should know about buying since according to T.I. Venezuela is buying a lot of people. But let’s look, for the sake of it, at a few results. Rather than give you all the details of the T.I. report, I have drawn a simple summary table to my taste. There I do divide the results according to what I think are acceptable levels of corruption (being rather a cynic I have long accepted that corruption is a fact of life and that the goal is to make sure it does not get out of control: after all, there must be a way to finance political campaigns, no?)

Corruption levels
Countries
Result and rank
"Acceptable" levels of corruption (between 9 and 7.5)
Iceland (on top)
9.7, FIRST
Singapore
9.2, 5th
Australia
8.8, 9th
Canada (best in the Americas)
8.4, 14th
The US of A (chavismo favorite whipping boy)
7.6, 17th
France
7.5, 18th
Corruption perceptible to bothersome, but countries probably trying to do something about it (between 7.4 and 5)
Ireland
7.4, 19th
Chile (top of the class in Latin America)
7.3, 21st
Japan (just to say that Chile is as good as Japan!)
7.3, 21st
Israel
6.3, 28th
Oman (just to prove that Islam even under an authoritarian regimes can manage some decency)
6.3, 28th
Botswana (top of Africa)
5.9, 32nd
Italy (well, what can I say)
5, 40th
Corruption a real problem (between 4.9 and 2.5)
Tunisia
4.0, 43rd
Greece
4.3, 47th
Namibia
4.3, 47th
Colombia (imagine that!)
4, 55th
Cuba (No sweat!)
3.8, 59th
Saudi Arabia (fundamentalism and autocracy at work)
3.4, 70th
Argentina (Oh well…)
2.8, 97th
Zimbabwe (Chavez good friend)
2.6, 107th
Better stay clear of these countries if you want to hold onto your money(less than 2.5)
Russia
2.4, 126th
Burundi
2.3, 130th
Republic of Congo
2.3, 130th
Venezuela (after 7 years of purifying revolution)
2.3, 130th
Sudan
2.1, 144th
Chad
1.7, 158th
No wonder why the Vice President (accidental pun intended) is so upset. After years of glorious bolibanana revolution, firing justices right and left, screaming and shouting against the corrupt past, we are right where we started. Indeed, El Universal article is is accompanied by a little chart on the IPC index over the recent years and I have taken the liberty to upload it.

The real reason behind Rangel outburst is that corruption is AGAIN seen in Venezuelan public opinion as one of the major problems. And Rangel knows very well that this is a sure regime killer. Thus his best defense, an attack on the messenger, a specialty of ALL corrupt and morally bankrupt regimes.

But the saddest part of it all is that Jose Vicente Rangel, with a decent past as an inquisitive journalist has lowered himself to accusations that he would not have been caught dead uttering no so long ago. I do not know how corrupt financially he might himself be now, but one thing is certain, through this blog his moral corruption has been well documented, not to mention a bevy of prestigious journalists that have written aloud in the papers what ever happened to the once moral fighter that Rangel was.

Now instead we have a political hack, clinging to the privileges of his office, complaining about Transparency International when he should be watching what happens in his own dispatch offices. He even threatened T.I. to send them the Venezuelan comptroller to investigate them. Indeed, if Clodosvaldo Russian is as effective to investigate T.I. as he has been investigating Venezuelan corruption, T.I. may sleep soundly.

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PS: I found this logo quite appropriate for the end of this post. It is the signature of Marcos1204, a participant of the Noticiero digital forum. There is no e-mail address so I could not ask for permission. If anyone knows, or if he reads it, my deepest acknowledgements. Incidentally the link I give for the forum is to a thread who gives dramatic pictures as to the cost of corruption for Venezuela. Please, go and visit, and then weep.
"Choros" means petty thief to outright bandit, according to context, and it is a pun on the omnipropagandapresent logo of "Venezuela es de todos" Venezuela belongs to all, which is what chavismo would like us to believe. Quite creative!

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