Power to Legality Now

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By Piero Bonadeo, vice-president of Humanitas360

Corruption is on the rise in Latin America. The number of corruption-related cases is increasingly reported in the continent, and individuals now have a better perception and active reaction to corruption. In Latin America, amongst the five lowest-rate-of-popular approval for head of states/governments (Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Honduras, Venezuela), four are from countries with the lowest rates of transparency [1] (Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela).

Corruption is indicated as the third most urgent threat to Latin Americans. Due to 15 years of economic growth, there are now larger middle classes participating actively in democracy and not willing to silently accept relevant corruption cases. This, along with the use new of technologies and social media for greater involvement of the civil society, is amongst key factors for reacting against corruption.

Thus it seems that growing low and middle classes in Latin America are sparks to protests and increased corruption intolerance. However, corruption is touching the whole society. Million-dollar corruption cases have consequences for everybody: individuals living barely above the poverty line, low income classes, the middle class and the high-income class.

As Humanitas360, we believe we should particularly empower those who stand at two ends of the income scale: the poorest and the wealthiest. Those are the most in need for creating a culture of transparency and legality. They should take this mission in their everyday life and become leaders of accountability.

The poorest pay the most for the consequences of major corruption, but they are by and large facing petty corruption. Those being obliged to pay corrupted institutions in their daily life should be empowered to say no. How? By building legality among people, sticking together to promote such legality in spite of it all, engaging with the institutions, using social media and platforms to raise their voices. Those who hold executive functions in corporations should also say no to corruption. How? By putting dignity and citizenship before business at all costs, and by enforcing rules and regulations, and good practices that most companies have in place but sometimes are just words on paper.

Similarities to what is happening in Brazil and the Italian “clean hands” judiciary operation have been highlighted. Besides prosecutorial practices and techniques, we hope Brazil can take the best out of “clean hands” first wave of consequences: end or renewal of major political parties through popular elections, the partial renewal of politicians, impact on people reaction to corruption and a boost in creating a culture of legality. The operation also generated stronger institutions and a massive popular reaction against the organized crime-mafia terror. It is important to note that what popular vote produced in the post-clean hands or how the new parties have managed to cope with corruption is another story.

Latin Americans, in particular Brazilians, have the opportunity to create more inclusive and participatory democracies through a joint grass root movement on legality. Work for it together.

[1] Latinbarometro and Transparecy International Index

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