Peru: What was the purpose of the Summit of the Americas 2018?

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The Summit turned out to be nothing more than the declaration of a set of good intentions, which will hardly contribute to mitigate corruption in the hemisphere

Peru: What was the purpose of the Summit of the Americas 2018?

Despite the expectation generated, the Summit of the Americas held in Lima went completely unnoticed by the public opinion of the continent. Facts of greater importance, such as what happened on the Colombian-Ecuadorian border, and the conflict in Syria, occupied the attention and interest of the media, not only of the Americas, but also of the entire world.

Leer en español: Perú: ¿Para qué sirvió la Cumbre de las Américas 2018?

Although the objective of the summit was based on a transcendental and priority issue in the region, such as the 'democratic governance against corruption', the so-called 'Lima Commitment', signed by the Heads of State who attended the event, it seems as a compilation of statements and phrases, that a real commitment to confront and eradicate corruption.

The Lima Commitment consists of 57 points distributed in seven axes:

  1. Strengthening democratic governance.
  2. Transparency, access to information, protection of whistleblowers and human rights, including freedom of expression.
  3. Financing of political organizations and electoral campaigns.
  4. Prevention of corruption in public works, contracting, and public purchases.
  5. International legal cooperation; fight against bribery, international bribery, organized crime and money laundering; and asset recovery.
  6. Strengthening of inter-American anti-corruption mechanisms.
  7. Monitoring and reports.

Each of these points, just to mention some examples, speaks of the implementation of measures such as: strengthening judicial autonomy and independence, and promoting policies of integrity and transparency in the judicial system; citizen participation for the prevention and fight against corruption and impunity; and guarantee transparency and equal opportunities in the selection process of public servants.

Likewise, it is approached the consolidation of the autonomy and independence of the higher control bodies; promote the adoption and / or strengthening of legislative measures that may be necessary to criminalize acts of corruption and other related acts; and consider the adoption of legal instruments that could restrict access to the public service of persons convicted of acts of corruption.

That is to say, policies and measurements are reiterated that, by simple logic, should be part of the principles of any government and are included in the plans and programs of government of those who today act as Heads of State. However, its application is null and its consistency almost non-existent, judging from the corruption scandals that have exploded in the continent in recent years.

Then, what was the 'great contribution' of the Summit of the Americas?

Beyond the diplomacy of the summit and the good intentions with which the forums of civil society, young people, and other members of the community of the Americas were held, there was really nothing extraordinary to attack the structural problem of the corruption. Everything stayed in the current agenda.

The contradictions between the discourse and the actions of some Heads of State who signed the Lima Commitment are added, as happens, for example, with Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, involved in the Odebrecht scandal for having received contributions from that company in his presidential campaign. Also, it is the case of Mauricio Macri from Argentina, involved in the so-called 'Panama Papers'.

A parallel summit?

Another fact, that relegated the Summit of the Americas to a second plane was that while Donald Trump ruled out to prepare the bombing that he launched against Syria -just while the summit was being held-, the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence had a parallel meeting with the presidents of Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Peru. The central theme (and apparently more important than the one discussed at the summit) was the eventual intervention in Venezuela by the US government, sponsored by the leaders who attended that meeting.

It is striking that these four Heads of State have had such diligence and willingness to meet with Pence to talk about Venezuela, but have not had an even similar attitude when Honduras electoral fraud occurred at the end of 2017 (just as the OAS). The fact shows once again that while Venezuela is the scapegoat for hemispheric geopolitics, situations such as Honduras and other countries go unnoticed and do not matter.

The Summit of the Americas could be a stage of reflection to reach consensus that would allow finding solutions to the scourge of corruption, but once again, the redundant diplomacy of the conjunctural prevailed, unable to look in depth at the problems that affect the continent.


Latin American Post | Samuel Augusto Gallego Suárez