domingo, 14 de julio de 2013

Bribe or extortion: In Venezuela you have a choice


 

One of the several former presidents of the Venezuelan state-owned Iron Company, Ferrominera, Mr. Radwan Sabbagh, has complained publicly about being extorted by Colonel Juan Carlos Alvarez Dionisi, the Director of Military Intelligence in Bolivar state. Mr. Sabbagh said that he was afraid of being involved with a group that had been committing fraud at the company. He says that Colonel Alvarez Dionisi, aka “The Shark”, met with him in October 2011 and threatened with putting him in jail or else. In this meeting The Shark let him know that he had all the information required about the “mafia” to act. Mr. Sabbagh felt this would not be convenient and started to pay him to buy his silence. He says he paid about U.S. $5 million. After two years the government has finally acted against him by putting him in prison. However, the system has been left intact.

This sordid tale allows us to get a glimpse of the hyper-corruption existing in the Venezuelan regime. It is a tale of bribes, extortions, treason and large-scale, systemic corruption. Bribes from the former president of the Iron Company to another government bureaucrat. Extortion by the policeman in exchange for his silence. Treason because both bureaucrats violated their oaths of loyalty to the nation. Large scale, systemic corruption because this was not an isolated affair but a group action made possible by impunity.  

When a mid-level government bureaucrat can afford to pay U.S. $5 million to an extorter he probably has much more money in his pockets.  In a universe of 2.3 million public employees this relatively modest indication of corruption makes us wonder about the true extent of corruption in the system. Two years ago I published a list of 33 cases of large scale corruption, involving the highest levels of the government bureaucracy, none of which have been properly investigated, see: http://lasarmasdecoronel.blogspot.com/2010/11/memo-giordani-y-marciano-sobre-la.html .

No nation is rich enough to support such a large scale corruption. The regime has created a new style of political and financial corruption, exercised openly and, even, with pride.
Why? The group in power and their followers feel that corruption by those who felt excluded and victimized in the past is no sin, they see it as an act of justice