Criminalization of Corruption in Bolivia
As the first democratically elected mayor of La Paz, Bolivia, I received a bankrupt institution ravaged by the hyperinflation of the early 1980s that had depleted most of the city’s revenues and had left employees practically unpaid for months. Consequently, most employees had turned to corruption to gain a living, effectively “privatizing” city hall. Unable to turn thousands of employees over to the judicial authorities, I had to invent other means to limit corruption. Thus I discovered that by changing the institutional design and the incentive structure, I could eradicate the real causes of corruption, reform a corrupt system, and even keep most of the formerly “corrupt” employees. Similar national institutional reforms were carried out during that period in Bolivia, but after Evo Morales became president, the institutional reforms were reversed and the nation lapsed back into its customary throes of corruption, which this chapter describes. Paradoxically, Morales has criminalized corruption to persecute his political opposition. I also suggest that more attention should be put to battling corrupt systems, than to locking up corrupt individuals.