United States news outlets heavily reported yesterday on the Venezuelan government’s donation of $500,000 made through the state-owned oil company, Citgo, to the inauguration festivities of President Trump. It was a gesture that provides a sharp contrast to the tremendous economic hardships faced by thousands of Venezuelans, who are in the midst of the greatest economic crisis that the country has ever experienced.
It was a disgraceful action for two reasons. First, this type of generous expenditure is inconceivable, considering the difficulties that Venezuela is facing. Second, the two governments are ideologically opposed, to the point that neither country has had an ambassador in the other for seven years. Above all else, it was disgraceful because of the brashness with which both donor and recipient have acted.
Fundamentally, this donation proves the rapacity of the interests of politicians, who show no reservations whatsoever when the time comes to accommodate their wishes. This is the case with the current American administration, which has been one of the harshest critics of the social unrest that has ever taken hold of the Venezuelan people.
It also shows the lack of scruples of those who are willing to use scarce resources to hand out gifts to change opinions – a typical practice of Latin American democracies, where the pursuit of influence is a money-driven mechanism.
In Guatemala, this practice has been the glue that holds together businessmen, bankers, and politicians, who mobilize vast quantities of resources in the hopes of pleasing potential political leaders. The reality of this practice is starting to come to light because of a new electoral law that requires the release to electoral authorities of financial records pertaining to donations received by electoral candidates. The candidates know the agreements that are involved in these donations.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and the secretary general of the National Unity of Hope, Sandra Torres, are the most recent players to add themselves to the long list of politicians who are unable to separate their political promises from the interests of their financiers. This means that they are now under an ultimatum to reveal the origin and use of the vast resources that allowed them to finance their electoral campaigns.
In the first case one could assume a high level of naïveté, at least regarding the president, although the story might be very different when it comes to his closest collaborators and other relevant players in the National Convergence Front political party. However, in the second case, one cannot ignore the inappropriate conduct pertaining to the receipt and administration of these donations, because the National Unity of Hope party and its leadership have greater experience in these maneuvers.
This dance of millions that weaves together the interests of financiers and politicians simply proves that corruption exists everywhere. Such a practice is characteristic of the Guatemalan process and others like it. However, today it can also be seen, much more incomprehensibly, in the environment of the United States, and in the fact that Nicolas Maduro’s Venezuelan government has proven to be one of the most generous financiers of the Trump inaugural festivities.
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