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Editorial: Democracy, Authoritarianism and Corruption
8/23/2004 2:00 PM

Several days ago the Subcommission of Human rights of the UN presented a report on the list of the ten most corrupt political leaders of the world, in which the fugitive ex-chief executive Alberto Fujimori had the dishonorable privilege of being represented.


What is interesting is that of the ten leaders listed, six were openly dictators: the Serb Slobodan Milosevic, Indonesian Mohamed Suharto, the Philippine Ferdinand Marks, Zimbabwe’s Mobutu Sese Seko, the Nigerian Sani Abacha and the Haitian Jean Claude Duvalier. As far as the other four, although they were elected, their governments became perverted along the way: the Ukrainian  Pavolo Lazarenko, the Nicaraguan Aleman Arnoldo and Philippine Joseph Estrada, to that add Alberto Fujimori


The first empirical establishment on the matter is comprised by the golden law of corruption: the greater the concentration of power, the greater the tendency for the government to be corrupt. This phenomenon was observed by Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) in its work Democracy in America. In a line cited from his book, he states: "the great corruptions can only occur where the government is concentrated in very few hands..." The final sentence on the subject is simple: "The larger and more concentrated a government is, the greater the government corruption, and vice versa."


These appreciations and the recent finding of secret accounts in the United States of ex-Chilean chief executive Augusto Pinochet ruin the myth that considers that "good or moralizing dictatorships" can exist. On the contrary, democracies, because they make their decisions in dispersed institutions throughout the society, are more difficult to corrupt. The reason is that powers exist that offer balance and control to the Executive like the Congress, the Judicial Power and the mass media. Briefly, dictatorships are synonymous with corruption and democracy is its antidote. Taking this point into account, the most imperfect democracy will be always better than the most perfect dictatorship.


A second point that arises from this unnoble list is that as much as Estrada, Aleman and Lazarenko, come from degraded constitutional States, they are judged by individual democratic governments: Estrada has domiciliary prison, Aleman is condemned 20 years of jail and Lazarenko faces the American courts for supposedly "washing" 114 million dollars from the banking institutions of his country. Of these, the only one that enjoys impunity in the international community is ex-Peruvian chief executive, Fujimori.


This democratic Government of Peru and the worldwide community has a high-priority task before it, to take Fujimori to the prisoners' dock for his violations of human rights and cloudy handlings of the resources of Peru.

Published in: El Peruano, Copyright El Peruano 2004, 23 August 2004