Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Corrupción: I

As with any country, corruption is seen as a problem in Argentina. Even more characteristic of the Global South is the extremely widespread perception amongst Argentines of the corruption that exists within their own government and the police forces. Of the 180 counties ranked by Transparency International, Argentina falls in position 109, with a score of 2.9/10. Only five other countries in North, South, and Central America have worse scores.

The idea of distrust and corruption among politicians here is so widespread that many Argentines I know have professed to vote for certain politicians, thinking that the fact that they were already abundantly wealthy would stop them from stealing public funds. The suspicions and accusations continue to the country’s highest office, where “La Presidenta” Cristina, finds herself the subject of a corruption investigation. Alongside with the preceding president, her husband, the two have been accused of stealing state funds. Last month a judge, Norberto Oyarbide, daringly petitioned the Office of Anticorruption to investigate the couple, whose reported income has increased by 158% in the last year. More information can be found here, http://www.lanacion.com.ar/nota.asp?nota_id=1171152 on La Nacion’s website.

In addition to dipping their hands into federal funds “El Matrimonio K” has also been accused by Transparency International for altering national income statistics in order to decrease the reported amount of Argentines living under the poverty line. In late September the government announced that the percentage of poor people in Argentina decreased from 17.8% in 2008 to 13.9% currently. Private estimates put the real poverty line at about 40%, creating conflicts between the nation’s leaders and the IMF. The following are a few links from the “slightly” biased Clarin newspaper.


A thought provoking question to which I continue to look for an answer is: if there is so much media coverage of the corruption, why does nothing change? In fact, a weekly show called “Caiga quien Caiga” (Fall who falls) makes a point to show Argentines the widespread corruption throughout the government, including senators who have pocketed five million USD out of public funded projects, and were then punished with fines equivalent to about $200,000. Despite the widespread knowledge of the actors corrupt deeds, they continue to persist unpunished through all rankings of the government from police (which will need to be a whole separate topic) to the president herself.

I would love to see if some members of the class might be able to plant some theories about this phenomenon.


  1. It seems like being exposed for corruption isn't all that embarassing afterall. If they simply get fined a minimal fee in comparison to what they made out with... and there isn't much public outrage, then what incentive is there to change? Do you see their electoral chances being jeopardized by this negative coverage? Or are most voters desensitized to everyday political corruption? Plus, if the government is corrupt at every level, who will enforce any kind of moral indignation against it? Not to be a debbie downer, but if no one with governmental power cares if its wrong, then how will anything change?

  2. Danny,

    How are Argentines reacting the to recent passage of the "Ley de Medios"? Do you think this will help disguise corruption?

    Hannah Berglund
    PS: Super jealous you are still there, boludo.

  3. I think that Tamara may be on to something here . . . when corruption becomes 'normalized' to the point that people operate without impunity then what will be the catalyst that brings about change? Is it related to Argentina's relative wealth? A complacent middle-class? Does it take an angry middle-class to overturn corruption? Or would it be the poor?