Caracas, October 22, 2004—One day after the release of an international report that ranked Venezuela as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, Chavez declared “a fight to the death” on corruption.
Tranparency International placed Venezuela in the low rank of 114 of 146 countries surveyed. The non-governmental corruption watchdog reported that oil producing countries in particular consistenly rank low in transparency scores. “In these countries, the oil sector is plagued by revenues vanishing into the pockets of western oil executives, middlemen and local officials," writes Peter Eigen, Chairman of Transparency International.
Chavez on many occasions addressed both the problem of corruption and excessive bureaucracy in Venezuela and earlier this month even announced an “efficiency mission” to deal with both problems that Chavez said can be traced to decades of rule by the political parties currently opposing him.
“Undoubtedly there is corruption in Venezuela,” President Chavez said in an interview with Mexico´s “La Jornada” newspaper in August. “We have a culture of corruption created for half century, in fact it has been carried out by these members of the Democratic Coordinator, the ADECOS and the COPEYANOS who became rich,” Chavez said.
To deal with corruption Chavez said he has ordered investigations even on those close to him towards what he calls “a moral revolution.” “I have had to take people out of the government, people who I trusted, and I have had to order investigations,” Chavez said.
According to Chavez the fight against corruption continues in the judicial system of the country which he says he wants to see cleaned up in order to process current investigations and meet out justice. Chavez however admits that it will not be easy given institutional stalwarts that block the process.
“(the investigations) now are somewhere in the labyrinth of a Judicial Power penetrated by the same corruption and by parties such as Democratic Action and COPEI.” Chavez says that with the passing of a new law of the Superior Court of Justice, judges he says are corrupt or “who did not have the courage to act correctly,” will be replaced with new judges.Chavez also brought the fight against corruption to general population and to the members of his government. “We should all give an example of selflessness and sacrifice ... nobody should use his public office to benefit his family,'' Chavez said.