Colombian citizens petition gov’t to fight corporate corruption

World Today

Brazilian construction giant, Odebrecht, admitted to paying hundreds of millions of dollars to win contracts across Latin America. The scandal has sparked a political crisis in Colombia.

CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports.

Colombian citizens petition gov't to fight corporate corruption

Colombian citizens petition gov't to fight corporate corruption

Brazilian construction giant, Odebrecht, admitted to paying hundreds of millions of dollars to win contracts across Latin America. The scandal has sparked a political crisis in Colombia. CGTN's Michelle Begue reports.

The Colombians in Bogota’s Plaza Bol var said they had enough of what they call Colombia’s newest enemy – corruption.

If these citizens collect 5 million signatures, they can force congress or even the president to pass anti-corruption legislation.

Corruption scandals had hit Colombia hard in the past year. In January, Colombian authorities arrested several politicians and officials. They were accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes to help Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht SA win a road-building contract.

Crunching numbers released by the Inspector General’s office, the Colombian media reported state corruption cost Colombia around $7.5 billion every year. That’s approximately 10 percent of the government’s 2017 budget.

And the corruption seemed to have no boundaries. The latest scandal involved a former governor in poverty stricken province La Guajira. Oneida Pinto was accused of irregularities in assigning contracts to fight infant mortality.

Professor Rodolfo Arango from Andes University said the reason for wide spread corruption has to do with Colombia’s 50-year-old armed conflict. “The elite that have power accept this form of corruption, clientelism, the awarding of contracts, resources and political jobs to friends and allies to fight the enemy which was the guerilla.”

But with a peace agreement signed this 2016, Colombians are rallying to fight this new enemy.

A recent Gallup poll showed 83 percent of urban Colombians believe corruption became worse in the last year.

President Juan Manuel Santos declared a war on corruption in his 2010 campaign. But if corruption is part of the day to day dealing of Colombian officials, eradicating it may prove to be even harder than ending a 50-year-old war.