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opinion

Also in this section:
Bernal, Diploma scandals

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Gutman, Silence that screams

Carpio, The ACS summit

Dunlop, GE seeds and European democracy
Ramirez, A Free Trade Area of the Americas
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Leis, Honesty is cool

Contributions toward transparency and integrity

by Raúl Leis R. --- (raulleisr@hotmail.com)

Corrupt acts are founded in turn upon a monopoly of power over how a good or a service is run. It includes the discretion to decide who is going to receive and who isn’t and in what measure. This power contemplates the absence of transparency, and is understood as the lack of controls over the actions of a person in his or her job.

Corruption is able to be committed because three factors exist. The first is systemic, as there must be spaces and institutional fissures for it grow and metastasize like a cancer. Second, there is the subjective factor expressed in individuals or persons who incarnate anti-values. Third, there must be a culture of normality and indifference, which allows for civic apathy, which gets to the point of seeing the excesses of power as “normal.”ird, a culturwho incarnate anti-values. nal fissures for it he discretion to decide who is going to recei

All of this can also be confronted in three dimensions:

First, by demanding an objective investigation and punishment of the guilty whoever they might be, and at the same time promoting a national integrity system;

Second, by fomenting moral and ethical values and a sense of solidarity in all levels and spaces possible (in families, to students, through the communications media, within the political parties and religions, etc.); and

Third, by the generation of a civic mobilization of citizens for a social auditing process and citizen controls.

We citizens have to make ourselves heard and apply civic pressure to change the lamentable state of affairs.

To accomplish all of this, it’s necessary to form a broad ethical coalition that allows diverse sectors and actors to confront this scourge, in order to prevent and it to punish it.

These words were written for Transparency and Integrity Week, which is an important contribution to this coalition. Entities like the CEASPA Pro-Integrity Project, the Soros Foundation’s Regional Anti-corruption Program, the executive secretary of the National Council of Transparency Against Corruption, the Attorney General, Panama YMCA, The Citizens’ Pr-Justice Alliance, The Foundation for the Development of Citizens’ Liberty, the Ombudsman, APEDE and others put on an agenda of activities, some of which deserve to be discussed and supported. For example:

There were the “Democracy, Local Power and Transparency in Municipal Office” workshops directed at mayors and city council members with the objective strengthening the alliance with local authorities who are part of the Pro-Integrity Project and to spread knowledge in order to confront the challenges of good local government; and the Attorney General’s office putting up of  posters and the Ombudsman’s distribution of the codes of ethics, the purpose of which is to bring to public institutions a clear corruption-fighting message so that they will join in this struggle, and promote public ethics by way of following a uniform code of ethics for public servants.

Moreover, there were the “Transparency, Ethics and Good Citizenship” program directed at youngsters between the ages of 16 and 18 in the secondary schools to make them aware of the importance of strengthening ethical and moral values and fighting against corruption; the regional encounter on “Involvement in Anti-Corruption Public Policy,” which sought to share and identify effective and sustainable methodologies for citizen involvement in anti-corruption policies in Central America and Mexico; an ethics symposium and the signing of an ethics agreement by the APEDE committee; the International Conference on Controls to avoid unjust enrichment and the uncontrolled privileges that create openings for corruption; conversations between the Executive Secretary of the Anti-Corruption Council and civil society; the “How cool it is to be honest!” campaign of messages for a youth free of corruption, organized by the YMCA and directed at young people through the distribution of stickers about the value of honesty; and the conference on the role of the communications media in a culture based upon ethical principles and accountability, directed at communications media and opinion leaders.

The target is corruption, which in Latin America over the past 25 years has cost the region some $600 billion --- that’s $24 billion per year.

 

The author is a sociologist and writer

 



Also in this section:
Bernal, Diploma scandals

Reporters Without Borders, The Chéry and Aparicio case
Gutman, Silence that screams

Carpio, The ACS summit

Dunlop, GE seeds and European democracy
Ramirez, A Free Trade Area of the Americas
Noriega, WTO dynamics
Schaffer & Chestnut, Chávez and his regional following
Jackson, Stop the Iraq War

Leis, Honesty is cool

 

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