Transparency Int'l chief: "Corruption is like tango. You need two to dance.
Corruption has permeated Latin America for many years, but the region's countries have the opportunity to "advance" and put an end to "impunity," the president of Transparency International, Delia Ferreira, said at the World Economic Forum on Latin America in Sao Paulo.
Corruption "inhibits dreams" and weighs down countries' potential, according to experts gathered in Sao Paulo for the World Economic Forum on Latin America, a region burdened by scandals and which is seeking ways to break out of the cycle hindering its development.
Corruption has permeated Latin America for many years, but the region's countries have the opportunity to "advance" and put an end to "impunity," the president of Transparency International, Delia Ferreira, emphasized during a discussion session concerning how to "break the cycle" of corruption and restore confidence on the political and business levels.
Ferreira said that the first step in the struggle is putting a halt to private election financing, which in recent years has served as a point of entry for corruption in Latin America, currently embroiled in the scandal involving the payout of millions in bribes to politicians throughout the region by Brazil's Odebrecht construction company.
"Corruption is like tango. You need two to dance. We can't tackle the problem by only focusing on one of the partners. There is a public sector and a private sector," Ferreira said during the discussion session titled "Breaking the cycle of corruption" moderated by Jose Antonio Vera, the president of Spain's international news agency, Agencia EFE.
Also participating in the discussion session with Ferreira were Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM) political analyst Denise Dresser, Microsoft Brazil general manager Paula Bellizia and Brazilian Justice Minister Torquato Jardim, who put the accent on corruption in his own country.
Brazil, the host of the forum, found itself publicly immersed in the problem of widespread corruption with the launching of Operation Car Wash, an investigation that so far has sent to prison politicians and businessmen from the nation's key companies for diverting money from public firms, such as Petrobras.
Operation Car Wash has had far-reaching implications in Brazil, although Jardim said that corruption in the cities "destroys more" than its discovery within Petrobras, a firm that for years had its earnings skimmed off by government officials and lawmakers all across the political spectrum.
"Of the 3,500 municipalities that were audited by the Transparency Ministry to learn about the use of federal funds, two-thirds had made off with money from school lunches, school and healthcare materials," he said.
Jardim said that one of the factors favoring corruption is the "excessive size" of the state and state control of the economy, and he added that the anti-corruption fight "begins at home."
Along those lines, Bellizia said that technology is a tool that can help in preventing corruption via strengthening controls, increasing flexibility and transparency.
"Corruption inhibits dreams," she said.
The issue of corruption has been discussed for the past three days at the Latin American forum, which this week launched an online platform dubbed "Technology for Integrity" with an eye toward taking advantage of new technologies to combat the scourge of corruption in the region.
The digital tool enjoys the technological support of 96 global innovators and entities such as Transparency International and the Inter-American Development Bank and seeks to rebuild Latin America's confidence and integrity on the global level, according to a statement from its promoters.
Corruption - as World Economic Forum on Latin America director Marisol Argueta said - is no longer a "taboo" subject in the region and society is not tolerating the practice of it any longer.
As Agencia EFE president Vera said, corruption is "a chronic disease that is bleeding to death the development" of the countries of Latin America.