One New Year’s wish: end political patronage

Economist Eduardo Garcia Michel, who resigned from an attractive and well-paid post on the Monetary Board on a matter of principle during the Hipolito Mejia administration, writes in Diario Libre today, Tuesday 29 December 2015, about his New Year’s wish for the country.

He makes the point that the country lacks individual and collective leadership directed at the common good. “The people have enormous potential and vital energy, so necessary to bring about major changes. But it is stuck in a deep trap. Institutions are weak and do not function. To strengthen and change them is a fundamental requirement for the leap to development. But there is one detail that conditions all… the political system.

“If I was given one wish for the New Year it would be to pray that this nation reach the conditions to eliminate political patronage, that great cancer that corrodes everything, with its by-product of remaining in power at any cost.

Political patronage becomes the nation’s project, one of an individual and the group of interests that back him. It reduces politics to a popularity contest recreated on the media runways. It limits the work of the government to the creation of a spider web of interests to distribute power quotas. It leads to governing for what is popular (and reproduces poverty) and to abstain from solving what is indispensible for development but is not popular.”

Garcia Michel concludes: “There will be no strong institutions as long as this terrible disease is not eradicated. The judiciary, legislative or executive branches or city governments will not work.

And the political system will remain a pantomime moved by corruption.

Until we heal the political system and eradicate patronage, we will remain just a caricature of what we should be.

Hopefully 2016 will be the beginning of the regeneration of the political system. May it be so.”