By Russ Warner, VP Marketing –
Latin American history is replete with accounts of astounding achievements and discouraging defeats, with strong threads of corruption interwoven throughout. Citizens have taken to the streets to protest in Brazil, Mexico, Peru and other nations in the region, indicative of burgeoning anti-government sentiments.
Change is in the air, or in the app, I should say.
Transparency at Your Fingertips
Peru’s High Level Anti-Corruption Commission recently created a mobile app designed to “increase transparency” so that Peruvian citizens “are better informed, to make an informed vote.” Of this year’s 653 candidates for mayor or regional presidency, at least 13 have three or more previous criminal charges or open criminal cases. Crimes include terrorism, manslaughter, rape, corruption and drug trafficking. These men should have no place in public office.
In Bolivia, non-profit Electoral Reform International Services financed a similar app that allows volunteers to estimate campaigning costs of candidates.
The Comptroller General in Costa Rica also launched an app for citizens to file a corruption or abuse-related complaint and monitor its status. There is even an option to have a live chat with a government representative. The app is also equipped with access to public spending databases.
Innovating and Organizing
Latin Americans spend significant time on social media, which has sparked a furious fire of protests for more government transparency and less corruption. The protests that sent millions of Brazilians to the streets, for example, were organized in great part through social media.
Maria Fernanda Trigo, director of effective public management at the Organization of American States, remarked, “Citizens today are much more demanding, they have higher expectations of their government. You do not need big investments for these kinds of things. You just need innovation.”
Pick up the Pace
Innovation has without doubt increased awareness at an unprecedented rate, but some governments have been responding slowly. An app called Promise Tracker, currently being developed by students at MIT, will draw public attention to the accountability of Brazilian government officials with respect to their wordy promises.
Governments and other organizations must continue to utilize mobile apps, websites, billboards and other media to increase transparency and communication between the people and elected officials. Progress may be slow, but the people will continue to fight for their rights now that they have knowledge of what is happening in their government. And knowledge is power.