Government officials in Venezuela offer a bribe menu that allows people to purchase anything from a university degree to a wiping of their criminal record, according to a Bloomberg report published Tuesday.
The list of available bribes is reportedly making its way around WhatsApp. Citizens can allegedly buy a $4,500 passport or pay $400 for a Chilean visa, $7,000 to wipe a criminal record, and $100 for the stamp that certifies university diplomas.
The restaurant style menu list is provided by “fixers,” Bloomberg explains, experiencing a growing demand for their services.
$4,500 for a passport, $400 for a Chilean visa, $7,000 to erase a criminal record: With a bribes menu, Venezuelans bring transparency to corruption https://t.co/LMNnxykIpT our latest #LifeinCaracas via @andrewrosati pic.twitter.com/suvRerJbxt
— Patricia Laya (@PattyLaya) November 27, 2018
The report underlines the staggering level of corruption afflicting the socialist country, currently experiencing the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in its history. As a result, the demand for visas abroad and new passports have skyrocketed and thousands of people every day seek to join the millions of Venezuelans who have already fled life under Nicolás Maduro’s regime.
Corruption is nothing new in a country where civil servants have had their wages radically suppressed by the ongoing hyperinflation crisis that has left millions of people in dire poverty and without the necessary means to live. Nowadays, those with resources often turn to their wallets to get out of any difficult situation, whether it be handling government red tape or an excessively long supermarket queue.
As well as those who actively seek out to bribe government officials, many police officers also demand “algo pa’l fresco” (“a little something to cool off”) at various checkpoints, mainly so people can pass through without difficulty. Many of those officers are now demanding money in dollars because of the worthlessness of the country’s bolivar currency.
The Venezuelan military is also known for its widespread corruption, mainly through its control of the country’s external food supply. Reports have previously detailed how soldiers who were refused bribes allowed food to rot in the country’s ports, despite the desperate need for food supplies among the wider population.
Inevitably, corruption goes all the way up to the higher echelons of government. This week, Hugo Chávez’s former bodyguard and later the country’s Treasury Secretary Alejandro Andrade was sentenced to a decade in federal prison for his involvement in a $1 billion bribery scheme.