History repeats itself in Chile. In the last few days, we have again learned through leaks of more cases of irregular financing of politics. And the dynamic is always the same. Once again we hear the same stories of forgiveness and the same phrases from politicians: “I did not know”, “I did it unintentionally”, “I had no other choice”, and “it was an involuntary mistake”. Although now there is talk of “good faith mistakes” and some even publicly defend the idea that “the end justifies the means”.
Let’s be honest, politics was financed in a completely irregular way and it is time to face it once and for all. You don’t have to be an accountant or an engineer, it is enough to balance the numbers of what a campaign cost with the income of the politicians to confirm it. And although it was an open secret, every time new episodes are uncovered, we are scandalized.
In my opinion, the real scandal is in lying, in avoiding giving explanations, as Marco Enríquez Ominami seems to do with the case of the Brazilian campaign airplane that pursues him. The real scandal is in hiding the truth, and in “I confess only when I am caught”, as deputy Iván Fuentes and senator Patricio Walker did to justify the contributions of the fishing companies.
In this game, each one has his excuse. Politicians defend themselves under the argument that they needed the money. And the companies also have their alibi, they say that they could not refuse to give resources, because if they do not agree, they would face worse consequences. It is different for a company to give ideas to a politician, with everything in order, for example through registered hearings via the lobby law, then to finance it!
Thus, we have been making this culture of irregular financing of politics something habitual. And what did we finally achieve? More distrust, more disorder, more weakening of our political force. As things are, the only winners are the lawyers who have found a niche in the defense of politicians and companies involved in these irregularities that go on and on, beyond the SQM, Penta, Corpesca, etc. cases.
The only good thing about all these cases is that at least now all of them should be more than aware when they have a conflict of interest (and I suppose that our authorities have complied with the obligation to make them transparent, together with their declaration of assets…). But please, no more trickle-down. It is the only way we change the culture of our country and assume once and for all that the end does not justify the means.
By Susana Sierra