Some four million Colombians have signed a petition that ultimately seeks far-reaching political reforms to effectively curb corruption in the South American country.
Promoted by Senator and presidential candidate Claudia Lopez, the petition is the first step towards a referendum that seeks to obligate both Congress and the Government to adopt seven anti-corruption measures.
The initiative needed only 2 million signatures, but received double the anticipated support, Lopez told local media.
“We made it. We exceeded four million signatures for the Anti-Corruption Consultation, breaking a record and showing that through direct action we can overcome corruption in the country,” the presidential hopeful said.
The signatures will be delivered to the National Registrar’s Office, which will verify the signatures. If verified, electoral authorities have to call a popular vote. If more than 11 million Colombians vote in favor of the measures, the government is obligated to adopt them.
The proposed anti-corruption measures
- Three-term limit for all elected officials like senators and representatives
- All elected officials must make their assets public
- All elected officials must make their voting record public
- All levels of government must make their budgets public
- Those convicted of corruption must go to prison without parole options
- The State must nullify all contracts with individuals or companies convicted of corruption
- Reduce congressmen’s salary from 40 to 25 times the country’s minimum wage
While corruption has been rampant in Colombia for decades if not centuries, the initiative comes in the middle of multiple criminal investigations implicating top officials and political parties.
With the country’s armed conflict winding down, the reduction of corruption practices has become a top priority for many Colombians, according to multiple polls.
President Juan Manuel Santos said he would embark on a “War on Corruption” after taking office in 2010, but has failed to effectively combat the criminal practice that is estimated to cost the Colombian tax payer several billions of dollars a year.
In fact, the very campaign that made him president in the first place is under investigation for allegedly having received bribes from Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht that has been granted multiple major infrastructure projects.