27 August 2018

Colombians failed to approve strict anti-graft measures and harsher punishment for corrupt officials in a referendum held last Sunday.

Newly elected President Ivan Duque chose to hold a referendum because he could not get these measures passed by the Congress.

The referendum sought to:

1. Lower the salaries of the Congress members by 40%;

2. Change the way public contracts are awarded;

3. Require politicians to declare their income;

4. Impose mandatory jail terms for corruption;

5. Tree term limit on lawmakers;

Currently, Columbian lawmakers make more than what their counterparts in in countries like the Netherlands, Sweden and France. Reported Al Jazeera.

Even prior to the referendum, Duque’s own party said they would not support the ballot. Ivan Duque did little to promote the referendum or to lure voters to the polls. The ballot was doomed to be a failure.

Many members of Congress routinely divert public funds to local governments, led by mayors from their own political camps. Corrupt politicians can never been expected to pass legislation curbing their interests. Those who did not support the referendum said that they preferred to deal with corruption issues in the Congress. Brazilian contractor Odebrecht paid  US$11million to Colombian officials in exchange for business contracts.

Some of these Latin American countries have been steeped in corruption foe centuries and it is difficult to pull them out of it.

 The failure of the ballot is a blow to the tens of thousands of volunteers who worked for the best of the last two years to bring this initiative to the referendum.