New Orleans Soon I will be in Honduras for the annual general meeting of Honduras ACORN and will get to visit with our leaders and organizers in San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, Marcela, and La Ceiba. Doing the preparation calls, all the talk and chatter on email is about the conviction of the President’s brother for drug trafficking and lying to the Drug Enforcement Agency in a trial in New York. Reports spoke of the trial exposing a network of money at the highest ranks of Honduran government buying protection and immunity. The President denies everything and is publicly deriding the trial as unfair. The President was an unindicted co-conspirator in this proceeding, so his position is more personal than just blood being thicker than water.
This is the same president who was elected after the golpista or coup when a democratically elected president was overthrown. The country is still divided sharply on this issue. More recently he was in the news during his re-election when early reporting of the results indicated he was losing, but then there was silence and no returns for over a day, and he suddenly emerged with more votes. In each case the United States has backed this mess, first with Hilary Clinton supporting the original coup and then with the Trump team backing the widely reported election fraud and his re-election. The rationale: he would help us in the drug and immigration wars. The result: not so much.
Corruption is corrosive. We see it everywhere. A surprising op-ed pointed out that most states, New York being the exception, do not make reporting graft and corruption a legal mandate for public employees. That’s not whistleblowing. That should be a plain and simple part of the job description of any public employee.
Logically, anyone with knowledge of a crime or participating in a coverup of a crime, as we all know from a million television crime procedurals, is an accessory either before or after the fact. Before, if they were helping in the heist by driving the car, standing watch, or any number of other things that facilitated the crime. After, if they kept quiet, hid the criminal or the evidence, lied about it, or whatever.
When it’s graft or corruption and involves taking or stealing millions rather than robbing a neighborhood store or bodega for a couple of hundred, why is it different? Why would one act put you in Rikers or your local jail and the other either gets you deniability as an “unindicted co-conspirator” or completely off the hook as someone who saw, but didn’t tell?
This would seem to be an easy legislative fix requiring reporting of all acts of corruption a worker either observed or knew about. Stopping it at the local and state level, might also make it easier to stop at the national and global level as well, where we know it’s not just Honduras, Malaysia, and those “other” countries, but a problem in the good ol’ USA, too.