A bit more on corruption in Peru

Yesterday this article popped up on my Twitter feed. Other than the headline number of $3.5B in estimated annual corruption, the part about corruption in regional governments is eye-opening:

“…corruption in Peru’s regional governments have been in the spotlight with a number of regional presidents detained over accusations that they misused and profited from public funds … currently 22 of the 25 regional presidents are being investigated over allegations of corruption.”

Talk of corruption in Peru always reminds me of a conversation I had with a Peruvian friend of mine in the US, just before I left my job at GE to spend more time in Peru. My friend lives in the US but his father lives in Lima. Since we were both in aviation and my friend’s father was an officer in the Fuerza Aérea del Perú (FAP or Peruvian Air Force), my friend arranged for some introductions for me with aviation businesses in Lima.

One day before leaving my job in the US my friend and I had a conversation about bureaucracy in Peru and my friend insisted if I needed anything, to call on his father, his father had a good network and knew how to navigate the bureaucracy. Then my friend thought about this and said if I ever really needed any help, if I had any problems with the bureaucracy, that an even better solution would be if I called on his grandmother because she knew exactly how to “play the system” and waive a dollar bill at the right place and the right time. My friend said the idea wasn’t to waive a lot of money, just a dollar bill at the right time. In fact, he was convinced his grandmother would be able to get more done than his father.

This struck a chord with me because my friend’s father was a high ranking, well-respected officer in the FAP. He answered directly to the Minister of Defense. How could it be that a person waiving a dollar bill in the face of a bureaucrat can get more accomplished than an officer 2 levels down from the President of the Republic?

Sadly, my friend might have been right.

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