The fight against corruption and the abuse of power by Trump

The absolute power of the president of the country "leader of the free world" seems to overcome what, in South America at least, would be reasons to put him in jail.

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The president of the United States, as far as is known through the media, used his power as such to ensure that the Ukrainian government would support him in order to discredit the rival Democratic candidate. To this end, he dismissed the U.S. ambassador to that country and suspended U.S. military aid for Ukraine's war with Russia over the Crimea, in a quid pro quo as long as the Ukrainian government showed no signs of providing the information the re-election candidate needed to discredit his rival. What he wanted was evidence that his rival’s son was involved in wrongdoing in Ukraine in order to discredit the father.


The differences in perception between South Americans and (US) Americans about what constitutes corruption can be summarized in a sentence from the New York Times on Thursday, January 30, 2020. It reads "Efforts to bring wavering Republicans into line appeared to be working as President Trump’s lawyers argued that anything a president did to win re-election was “in the public interest.”


In South America, at least in countries where presidents are subject to oversight such as Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, the interpretation of "anything a president did to win re-election" would mean, influence peddling, abuse of power, generic falsehood, obstruction of justice, obstruction of congress, the formation of a criminal organization within the political party to assist in the obstruction of justice and to facilitate re-election from political power, facilitating the use of public resources in favour of the presidential candidate. The abuse of power for one's own chrematistic benefit is another very evident crime from a South American perspective.


The absolute power of the president of the country "leader of the free world" seems to overcome what, in South America at least, would be reasons to put him in jail but which in Washington does not even make him lose points in public opinion. The media coverage of a booming economy, added to the erroneous reporting confusing stock market indexes with GDP growth, repeated by all the media, while not showing the falling weight of wages in the American economy, but instead talking about the reduction of unemployment to minimum levels, gives a wrong image of what is happening in the American economy. Two examples of what is really happening are Boeing and its recently failed plane and satellite launch; and the truce in the trade war signed by a third level official of the Chinese government due to the loss of credibility of the American executive.


Given the media's handling of his multiple abuses and repeated lies, according to the January 2020 Gallup Poll (, support for Trump's acquittal is greater than approval of the job he is doing as president. While 53% of Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president, a smaller 46% are in favour of conviction. And, while 44% approve of the job he is doing, 51% are against conviction. The crimes he has committed do not seem to interest the majority of the population.


This would be anecdotal were it not for the fact that anti-corruption programs in South America are often promoted by the National Endowment for Democracy NED and the International Republican Institute IRI, both State Department agencies. Perhaps they should begin at home.


- Oscar Ugarteche, former chief of staff of the Peruvian Congressional Committee on Economic and Financial crimes during the Alberto Fujimori period. Professor at the Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas UNAM.
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