Foreign Policy Blogs

Personal Battles Against Corruption

Corruption sours healthy economies, always places freedoms at risk and awards the worst of the worst for doing the most damage they can possibly imagine. Much of the slide from corruption into a full totalitarian regime comes from purging those who may limit the powers of elites who wish to dominate their fiefdom. In many cases, corruption gives more power to those at the top of it than possessed legally by King or Queens in those nations where they still exist. Constitutional powers limit the ability for a monarch to become an unelected dictator, with punishments ranging from fines to prison time. A corrupt leader seeks to infect all systems of government with corruption, so that even checks and balances via different branches of government are suppressed or outright eliminated. Different government structures operate in different ways, but when one person at the top can direct justice or jail for those they choose to oppose, the sickness of corruption in a democracy will take hold of it completely.

There are few resolutions to entrenched corruption, except for preventative measures to limit the powers of anyone who is given that degree of control and state wealth. Over 800 years of civilization created modern democratic systems as we see today. For this reason, once a democracy is injured or corrupted, it is extremely difficult to return to balance. Accounting for the most democratic systems currently, the British Parliamentary system, often referred to as Parliamentary Democracies as well as the systems that came out of the French Republic, a system based on a President limited by checks and balances seemed to have produced the most freedoms in modern times. To get to that point, many of those combating tyranny died fighting for it, from the streets of Napoleon’s France to the beaches of Normandy during the Second World War.

A key element of corrupt regimes is for that newly formed government to set upon their political enemies soon after taking power. This includes whistle blowers that seek to promote an openness in society, as an open and transparent society is harder to corrupt. Protests in Belarus are an example of a country that wishes to nip further corruption at the start of government regime taking power. As seen in Venezuela, a state that has fallen to a generation of corruption regularly places opposition leaders in jail or sequesters them using fear. Canada, a country now mired in its second corruption scandal in a two year period had a third major ongoing invisible scandal where a top Admiral was punished for exposing political ties to a shipping contract. The current Prime Minister used his power to go after him personally for being a whistler blower, apparently done in his first meeting of his new government. Corruption is almost impossible to eliminate, and it is why in Brazil, in a remarkable move by those in its judicial branches of government set out to purge the country of as much corruption as possible, even placing some ex-Presidents in jail for crimes against the nation.

Recently actions in Mexico has reflected elements of what has occurred in Brazil and Canada, but mainly due to an ex CEO of PEMEX being targeted by what he claims to be a corrupt system, including three ex-Presidents of Mexico. Emilio Lozoya, the ex-CEO and accused comes from an influential family, and has worked closely with Mexico’s government for many years. His personal crusade to clear his name may activate Mexico’s judiciary against former and current political leaders as evidence leaks out from Lozoya’s time working closely with Mexico’s elite. While there are questions regarding his political loyalties to various factions in government, the exposure of his case may shed some light on how corruption works in Mexico. It is up to Mexican citizens and the Judiciary to withstand pressure from elite leaders, a situation where even Canada was unable to prevent fully. Punishing a powerful individual may help average Mexicans in the process, if that process is able to remain visible.

 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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