Mérida, August 31st 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s National Assembly elected Carlos Escarra as the new Comptroller General of the Republic yesterday, making him the country’s highest anti-corruption authority.
Until his new nomination, Escarra was a legislator for Aragua state and is a constitutional lawyer. He has also been a Supreme Court magistrate, vice-comptroller general, and university lecturer. He was a member of the Venezuelan Communist Party for 25 years, later joined Chavez’s Fifth Republic Movement (MVR), and was on the national executive of the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) before submiting his formal resignation from the party so as to assume the position of Comptroller General.
Opposition parties voted against the designation, arguing that the position involved the same requirements as those for naming a magistrate.
According to article 249 of the constitution, the president of the country appoints the position, and in this case President Hugo Chavez sent a request to the national assembly, which, in accordance with the constitution, was then approved by a majority.
Wilfredo Febres, legislator for the opposition’s Democratic Action (AD), argued that, “the public has to be consulted, because when designating a magistrate, they are chosen not just for their resume…but also for their moral character and the citizenry is listened to…the comptroller isn’t a lawyer for the president, but for the republic”.
Escarra said that the comptroller general has “always been a member of the [governing] party”, citing Rafael Caldera as an example, who in 1946 occupied the post, but was also founding member of the Copei party.
Escarra said that as the new comptroller general, he would “defend the highest interests of the country against all of you [the right wing], who sell the country”.
In 2008 Venezuela’s Comptroller General, Clodosbaldo Russián submitted a list of 386 people to be banned from standing for public office for being guilty of corruption or misuse of public funds. Of the 428 people in the individual list, 236 did not sign the 2004 opposition petition to recall the president.
In March of this year Russian also disqualified four pro-government public servants, including two ex mayors, from political activity for a year due to acts of corruption, and in February he announced that he would begin evaluating the wages of senior Venezuelan officials from January next year.
Russian died in June this year while being treated in Cuba for a stroke.