Weekly news – 18 May 2018
On Sunday, Venezuelans will go to the polls to elect their president for the next six years, amidst an economic crisis which is only getting worse.
Leaked data from two hospitals in Caracas published this week shows that due to major shortages of food and essential supplies, more babies are being born underweight. The numbers of both babies and new mothers dying in Venezuela has increased in recent years.
What caused this crisis? Apart from epic mismanagement, corruption has played a significant role.
In fact, Venezuela scores as the most corrupt country in Latin America on our Corruption Perceptions Index.
This week our chapter there showed how corruption has exasperated the crisis, explaining how the Venezuelan government has signed contracts worth at least US$30 billion with Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction giant at the heart of an enormous bribery scandal in Latin America and elsewhere.
According to a former executive of the company, it appears that money taken from the Venezuelan state budget through shady contracts went towards paying bribes to politicians in other countries – money that could go towards basic services for citizens.
Now, as the crisis deepens, the government is essentially bribing citizens with access to essential services in exchange for their support. Little wonder then that few observers expect the incumbent president, Nicolas Maduro, to be leaving any time soon.
That means the international community has to step up the pressure for concrete efforts to curb the deadly effects of corruption.
News from Transparency International
From Jennifer Lawrence to Pope Francis, many have expressed their ideas about corruption and its devastating effects. Here are some notable examples.
A verdict last week by the Lisbon Court of Appeals in the trial of former Angolan vice president Manuel Vicente has disappointed hopes for a triumph of legal due process over politics and impunity. It also has worrying implications for the independence of Portugal’s judiciary.
In light of the recent elections in Malaysia and the ongoing investigation into a multi-billion dollar state-funded corruption scandal, Transparency International applauds the actions of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to publicise the details of an auditor-general report into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Source: Transparency International
According to a former executive of the company, it appears that money taken from the Venezuelan state budget through shady contracts went towards paying bribes to politicians in other countries - money that could go towards basic services for citizens.