As Colombia works towards implementing an ambitious peace deal and fighting new and old criminal groups, extreme levels of corruption within its own government are an often overlooked but crucial threat to battling poverty, drugs and violence during this historic window of opportunity for change.
Corruption in Colombia may be worth as $14 billion, Comptroller General Edgardo Maya Villazón announced at a recent anti-corruption forum organized by El Tiempo. Insight crime
If corruption is not eradicated to level the political playing field, the systemically flawed democratic process will destroy any prospects of a lasting peace. Even though some 6,000 guerrilla members have already demobilized as part of the implementation of the peace treaty, several members are defecting and hedging their position by staying in place while the process evolves. Some of these are FARC elements involved in illegal economic activity that could easily morph into drug-financed non-state actors. They include the Daniel Aldana mobile column and the Teófilo Forero column as well as Front 48 and Front 57. Fair Observer
"FARC served every purpose: To cover corruption, to say that they were the stone in our shoe stopping us from overcoming backwardness and poverty, and thus justify excessive military expenditures (the highest in the continent) and which in great part ended up in the pockets of the military high command and officials of the defense portfolio; to install narco-paramilitary neoliberal presidents under the fallacy that killing guerrillas solved the country's problems; to keep the people deceived into believing that through war Colombia would arise towards development, for this and for the other, etc, etc, etc." Con la Oreja Roja
"Here, the public-private partnership model is quite applicable. Colombia should consider creating an independent, impartial body comprised of leaders from the public and private sectors to oversee the implementation process and prevent corruption. Such an institution could leverage the leadership of the public sector with the resources of the private sector, and might prove valuable in creating consensus and approval among social groups concerned with how the peace deal will affect the nation going forward.
"In the wake of one of the biggest corruption scandals in history, Colombia has a unique opportunity to seize this moment and reject business as usual. Through partnership and substantive reform, it can make major progress in eradicating corruption. Forums like the Concordia Americas Summit in Bogotá on Feb. 21 represent a unique opportunity to develop meaningful partnerships, and we look forward to fostering collaboration for a better future in Colombia and beyond at the summit in Bogotá." Devex