This article first appeared in La Segunda on April 13, 2018.
First came the resignation of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and then the imprisonment of Lula da Silva. They may seem distant and foreign issues, but the scourge of corruption is just around the corner and Chile is not exempt.
At the beginning of his government, PPK announced strong anti-corruption measures. An exemplary sign. But as the months went by, we learned that he had also been caught by the tentacles of Odebrecht.
On the other hand, Brazil already had a corrupt track record. Beyond the social improvements implemented by Lula, he would have kept his ethics in a drawer and would have received as a “gift” an apartment from OAS, incurring in passive corruption and money laundering. In addition to the bad practices of Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer.
Did the companies wonder about the damage they would cause? Not, because their evil spread throughout practically the entire region, affecting in the process the companies that did business with Odebrecht and OAS. Uncertainty, impact on the economy, loss of reputation, and consequences that ended up dragging down the whole of Latin America PPK and Lula became symbols of irregular political financing.
But bad practices do not end with them. On the contrary, they are symptoms of a scourge that has been affecting Latin America for some time. It´s the duty of all of us to reflect and rethink where we are going. Understand that we have an important role in preventing corruption, regardless of the place we occupy in the economy: working in a particular area of a company, being a senior executive, director, or owner. We need to think about “how” we are doing business, not just the outcome. We also have to think about “who” we are doing business with.
The responsibility is shared and the private sector must become a promoter of good practices. At least the citizenry is already aware and tired of corruption. Now is the time to act, not only through laws, but also through self-regulation, and to understand that one company behaving badly can drag down an entire country. We have the tools to prevent corruption and not regret cases like those that afflict our neighbors.
By Susana Sierra