Clean as a whistle


whistleSo according to Transparency International, Venezuela is NOT the most corrupt country in Latin America.

If I’m understanding this poll correcty, people were asked if they had paid a bribe in the last year. While 27% of Venezuelans answered yes, 33% of Mexicans and 36% of Bolivians answered yes.

corruptionWait. A. Minute. Regular Venezuelans would find it hard to distinguish a bribe from a regular business transaction. This, after all, is a country where pirated movies are sold in shopping malls … in regular stores … with signs and everything. This is a country where people don’t think that Cadivi is a scam, and where they feel entitled to cheap gasoline. Who is to say my country-men and -women are good judges as to what constitutes a bribe?

For all they know, that shakedown by your local cop is simply a “tip.”

Anyway, the full report is here.

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  1. It’s important to point out that this isn’t the only report Transparency International does. The Corruption Perceptions Index is the one who presented Venezuela as the most corrupt country in Latin America and was based on both opinion surveys and analysis from experts.

    This one is called Global Corruption Barometer and according to its introduction, is more of a global public survey where ordinary people tells about their own personal experiences with corruption. In this case, you’re right as regular folks here mostly no longer see it as much of a difference between a bribe but as a regular thing they have to do (like using a gestor) to get things done.

    • The perceptions index is flawed. It’s built on the perceptions of major corporate players and those who move in those circles. If a high score is high, it will lead to negative press, which in turn will lead to an even higher future score. It still carries weight though, even if it isn’t credible.

  2. Corruption is much more than bribes. It is extortion, abuse of power, stealing, nepotism, and more. You are quite right in saying that Venezuelans have lost the ability to see a bribe as an act of corruption, since so much of this has become part of daily life. The barometer should be careful because in many countries bribes are already part of the “culture”.
    One comment by Rob suggests that TI is controlled by “corporate” players. I was part of TI for five years and I can attest to the diversity of polls that go into the evaluation of any one country. In the case of Venezuela is usually five to seven different, independent, polls from different sectors of society. Actually, the methodology is always well explained in every issue of the Index. It is not anything like the pollsters the Chavez regime had in their payroll.

  3. I’m still uncomfortable with your line that equates participating in the CADIVI/SICAD system with corruption. How can you call doing something you’re legally compelled to do to access foreign currency corruption?! You’d have to call everyone in Venezuela corrupt, except for the random Yanomami or religious ascetic/hermit. That can’t be right.

      • I’m not saying that people who take advantage of Cadivi are corrupt. I am saying that people who take advantage of Cadiv don’t realize it’s a tool tailor-made for the corrupt, and that it’s a subsidy for the rich and a scam for the poor.

        Let me put it this way: when I fill up my tank in Venezuela for next to nothing, I do it with the full realization that it’s a terrible subsidy, that the money that’s going in my tank is coming out of some poor child’s pocket. Many people out there fill up their tanks with not a shred of guilty conscience, because “para algo tiene que servir vivir en esta mierda de pais.”

        • I know you’re not saying this, but it does sound awfully like those who say “Sure I drive an SUV, live in a gas heated house and buy Apple products made with Chinese coal power, but I’m different because I *care* about the environment and donate to Greenpeace”

    • OK, but a sizeable share of people using CADIVI/SICAD turn around and sell their excess dollars at censored value, which is illegal (but rational), which in my opinion distorts the whole perception of “good”and “bad”, which one of JC’s points, I guess. The GHA’s “gestor” example is great in this context.

  4. Corruption is endemic/epidemic in Venezuela, as to be expected in a country where there are no effective legal sanctions for any illegal transgression, including even murder. The effective sanctions are for those who report corruption, or talk about it. Venezuela is, has been for years, one of the most corrupt nations in the history of the world.

  5. I agree that those surveys are to be taken with a grain of salt, but I think your argument is weak. What makes you think Mexicans or Bolivians (to name the examples you mentioned) are any better than us at making this difference? What makes us so “special”?.

  6. Lots of corruption involves a bribed official giving the party doing the bribing an unfair and illegal benefit so that neither party to the transaction has any interests in reporting the bribe , specially where government related transactions are concerned and the party paying the bribe comes from a country where bribes are illegal even if paid to people abroad ( US , Much of Europe) . What the report refers to is just one form of corruption : the ‘shakedown’ , which is where the bribe serves simply to allow someone to carry out a legitimate business but otherwise does not grossly inflate its gains. I wager that much of the worst corruption going on in Venezuela is of the former kind and that the annoying petty kind of graft most people take as just as part of the ordinary course of things.


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