Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Perceptions on Corruption

In a report recently published by Transparency International, it was found that one in four people in this world paid a bribe this year. Most were paid to police officers, followed by permit registries and those in the judiciary system. The majority of those surveyed say corruption in their country has increased over the past few years, and most have very little trust in their government. This sentiment is widely shared by most people living in Puerto Rico. This past year, the FBI conducted its largest police corruption investigation and made 129 arrests on the island. Politicians who take bribes and kickbacks are also a dime a dozen. One of the most egregious examples would be Jorge de Castro Font, who is now claiming insanity. The latest corrupt politician to emerge on the scene is Iván Rodríguez Traverzo, a former House Representative who was expelled after he was found blackmailing a group of small-inn owners, who had refused to bribe him.

Corruption, considered in some parts of the world as a necessary evil, is not generally tolerated on the island. After Chile, Puerto Rico is ranked second (and 33rd overall) as the least corrupt country in Latin America by Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index in 2010. The island has been slowly moving up the index, ranking 36th in 2008 and 35th in 2009, out of the 178 countries being listed. Keep in mind the word "perceptions," as this index is by and large the view of business people who participated in this report. If those living on the island were to be surveyed, Puerto Rico would either remain in a state of inertia, or perhaps move in the opposite direction of the index. One of the most likely reasons why the island is moving up this ranking is not because it has made tremendous strides in transparency, but because in some parts of the world government skulduggery and malfeasance is even worse.

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