Probity and Ethics in Today’s Chile

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The last public opinion poll published by the Centro de Etudios Públicos revealed, with stark figures, just how little confidence Chileans have in the institutions that govern their lives.  The political parties, the congress and the government are seen as entities with the most corruption; 80% of those polled believe that the AFP pension system is abusive and 73% believe that the Isapre healthcare system is also abusive.

The various corruption scandals in institutions that until recently enjoyed enormous respect, like the Carabineros, and the repeated accusations and investigations linked to the illegal financing of political campaigns, influence trafficking, and political favors within different government entities, as well as the discovery of widespread collusion within different markets, have diminished the confidence of Chileans.  But the problem is not just the exorbitant amounts that have been defrauded, but that these contribute to a climate, a bitter taste, which not only involves millions of pesos or public offices that are arbitrarily assigned, but also the sensation that every limit can be breached, and that today ethics is negotiable in any market.

In this edition, well known figures took on the challenge of going beyond the media discourse and the accusations, and to explore issues related to ethics, probity, and the need to implement concrete measures that can curtail this debacle.

María Olivia Mönckeberg, Fernando Atria and Roberto Aceituno met for a roundtable discussion to address, each from the point of view of their own discipline, to provide a deep, structural analysis, which is rare in today’s media, of a society that has lost respect for ethics.  From a philosophical perspective, María José López stresses that we should not fear epochs that are characterized by tumult and division, and that we should understand we are still part of a political body.  Fernando Lolas, meanwhile, discusses a bioethical perspective that is necessary for thinking about public policy in relation to aging, increasing social justice.  From Spain, Joan Melé, one of the main proponents of the concept of ethical banking, reserving an active and strong role for citizens in the financial decisions of banking institutions.  Finally, Andrea Repetto, a member of the Engel Commission, shares some of its measures, which seek to recover some of the citizen confidence in the institutions and organizations that sustain our democracy.

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