This article first appeared in Pulso on December 31, 2021.

It´s disappointing that institutions that we believed, to be honest, have committed blunders. It is not that they are less forgiven than the private or public sector. But in Chile, the Armed Forces and the Carabineros have been characterized for being blameless. The fraud to the Treasury and the large sums of money stolen by members of the Carabineros is an obligatory subject: what went wrong? How is it possible that this case has gone unnoticed for so long? Internal controls failed. Nobody was supervising. The lack of control is everywhere and that is what we have to improve if we want to change the distrust in Chile. A correct administration in companies, civil society organizations, and public institutions is to watch closely, to make sure of cash flows, methods, and objectives.

It´s necessary to distrust. This is the only way to carry out effective control. And be careful to whom we entrust this task because the same people who are exercising the control may be incurring bad practices. In cases such as that of the Carabineros, external auditing is urgently needed. The media have reported that it is the high command that admits weaknesses. For the same reason, there is a need for control that prevents, finds crimes, and repairs them. Measuring how is also important. It´s not because risk policies have worked that they will be effective today. The Comptroller’s Office itself detected that the Carabineros have a systematic problem. The control must be bullet-proof.

By Susana Sierra