Anti-corruption watchdog Ethics & Transparency is calling on President Daniel Ortega to address the apparent privileges and alleged illegal tax exonerations given to Nicaragua’s fleshy electoral boss, Roberto Rivas.
Roberto Courtney, executive director of Ethics & Transparency, said if the Ortega administration is suddenly so keen on “living pretty,” it can start by cleaning up the mess in its own administration.
“It is impossible to aspire to ‘live pretty’ while corruption and impunity continue in this country,” Courtney said during a press conference on Tuesday.
“Daniel Ortega and his administration need to speak out and act in this case of inequality before the law and customs fraud involving the president of the Supreme Electoral Council,” Courtney said.
So far, neither President Ortega nor anyone else in his administration has addressed the latest scandal uncovered last week by the daily La Prensa, which reported that the rapacious Rivas avoided import taxes on the 14 luxury vehicles he brought into the country in 2009. Rivas has not issued any statements in his defense.
Courtney says the government’s silence sets a dangerous precedent in Nicaragua. By failing to denounce or correct cases of corruption and tax evasion, the Ortega administration is essentially “giving the green light” to others who also decide they’d rather not pay taxes, Courtney charged.
The offense is even more appalling given the fact that Rivas is one of the best paid “public servants” in the country, Courtney said.
He said regardless of what the rest of the citizenry thinks about Ethics & Transparency’s criticism of the past few elections, all Nicaraguans should feel “deeply offended” every time government functionaries are given “additional and illegal privileges.”
If the government is serious about its national cleanup campaign, Courtney charged, it needs to “put thieves behind bars where they belong.”