A storm hit when the sky seemed calm
In April and May, before Nicaragua’s “winter” officially sets in with its refreshing rains, it’s always sweltering and there’s tension in the air.
There’s no choice but to tough it out and wait. This year, the electoral climate was also dominated by the suffocating calm of tense expectation,
while the governing party was forced to deal with a violent thunderstorm that
reflected the grave implications of the model
it has imposed in public administration.
In the second week of April, Walter Porras, general director of Nicaragua’s internal revenue service, the DGI, was suddenly fired. Two months earlier, El Nuevo Diario had published documented reports on some irregularities Porras had fostered in his institution, including nepotism, influence peddling and anomalies in the management of public resources. Typically no one in the government said a word. Porras, one of President Ortega’s most obedient and unconditional government officials, of course denied it all and remained at his post. His dismissal two months later initially seemed related to those journalistic revelations. But, in fact the reasons were far more serious.
“Waltergate” blows upWalter Porras’s departure from the DGI has left a number of important questions unanswered. Through a trusted legislator, Porras was warned to be out of his office by the following morning on President Ortega’s direct and unappealable orders. That same day the National Police picked up another DGI official to question him and the following day the house of yet another official was searched; thousands of dollars, vehicles and computers with documentation were seized. Meanwhile, in a televised interview, Porras repeatedly praised Ortega’s “wisdom” in everything he does and decides, calling him “my comandante, my maximum leader, whom I will continue to support with the same fervor.”
After these declarations, the media lost track of Porras and the police authorities refused to provide any information. Once Holy Week was over, a document containing a preliminary investigation of the DGI by the Police Department’s Economic Investigations Division and Judicial Assistance Division made its way to the weekly bulletin Confidencial, directed by Carlos Fernando Chamorro. Given that the National Police is increasingly under Ortega’s direct control, the source of the leak is a deep secret. The contents of the investigation were extensively covered in both Confidencial, and El Nuevo Diario and on the nightly TV news programs Chamorro directs on Channel 12, all of which are constantly disparaged by the official media. Waltergate had blown up.
The police investigationThe ongoing police investigation, which has so far included declarations from over a dozen officials and some businesspeople, shows that Porras was directing an entangled network of loyal officials organized to peddle influences and receive kickbacks through manipulation of the legal mechanism of tax refunds. This mechanism obliges the DGI to return to businesses any overage they have paid in taxes, such as the purchase of tax exempt goods and services.
This network of promoters run by officials at Porras’ orders, negotiated with the businesses that they would rapidly refund part of the taxes with little review in exchange for keeping another part as under-the-table commissions, which ranged from 2% to 60% of the total amount.
The investigation indicates that some businesspeople participated in this illicit operation because they were delighted to cooperate with the governing party’s electoral campaign, while others were extorted. The investigation provides the names of 37 companies contacted. Although it does not classify all the criminal offenses the network allegedly committed, fiscal experts list at least four: association to commit a crime, misappropriation of public funds, extortion and defrauding of the State. Penal experts add bribery, influence peddling, embezzlement and harm to the nation’s capital wealth.
According to the investigation, tax refunds doubled between 2009 and 2010, an irregularity that had begun to be noticed well before, although no one had said anything. The report calculates that the equivalent of at least $20 million had passed into the hands of Porras’ network members.
This scandal is obviously deteriorating Nicaragua’s international image, affecting the government’s relations with private enterprise and becoming a stumbling block for contributors as we discover the existence of a mafia inside the tax-collecting institution. All of this will only be intensified if those responsible aren’t sanctioned.
The damage to Nicaragua’s international image is especially significant if we recall the millions that international cooperation has provided over the years to substantially improve the DGI and help ensure the country’s greater economic sustainability.
Unknowns and confusionWill all of Waltergate’s many unknowns be cleared up? At the close of this issue, no one had been arrested and it was unclear that anyone would be tried.
Contradictions are popping up on all sides. After the police report was revealed only through the media—the government said nothing, even a denial—Porras was soon back on TV reiterating his innocence and declaring that the report was a media fabrication and no one had investigated him. Strangely, the report indeed did not include any declaration from the man at the center of the scandal. The Comptroller General’s office, which is responsible for investigating the use or abuse of public resources—said it had not been asked to take on the case. The Prosecutor General’s office said it hadn’t been taken into account either. And only after the leaked report was public did Police Chief Aminta Granera report that President Ortega had told her Economic Investigations Department to conduct ongoing preventive work and investigation in all state institutions.
“We’re putting By May 9, when this issue went to press, the only high-level official in the executive branch who had broken the government’s strict silence on the case was Bayardo Arce, Ortega’s economic adviser. He recognized that “something anomalous” had been going on in the DGI, and admitted that he had suspected as much when he noticed the strange increase in tax refunds. He tried to calm the big businesses organized in the Supreme Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP)—with which the FSLN maintains excellent relations—by claiming that none of COSEP’s affiliates appeared linked to the network. The police report, however, does suggest that some of them were negotiating with promoters from Porras’ network.
the house in order”
In an attempt to wrest merit from the media and attribute it to the government’s desire to be transparent, he said, “It was the government that initiated the investigation. It’s not being done for the morbid fascination of newspaper readers, but rather to put the house in order.”
The first reaction to the DGI scandal by businessman José Adán Aguerri, current COSEP president, was lukewarm to say the least. He called for such situations involving “human failings” not to happen, adding that “he ideal thing for us would be not to have to pay those taxes so that in the final analysis situations like this, where the kind of temptations and situations we’re experiencing today can be provoked, can’t exist.”
Prepared for this “storm”?The police investigation began to put some order in the DGI’s house by offering a flowchart of the Waltergate network, identifying 13 people who were acting on Porras’ orders. But the names of the two people who were above Porras at the summit of this organizational structure have still not appeared. This key point is yet to be revealed.
The investigation also indicated that one of the network promoters acknowledged to the Police that his boss is retired Colonel Lenín Cerna, currently the FSLN’s organizational secretary and responsible for its electoral grid. In early February, Cerna had stated that the FSLN was ready for any “variant” in the electoral process “…both for storms and for calm waters.”
Waltergate is unquestionably a “storm” that blew in when the electoral calendar was still in “calm waters.” Will it be a “variant” that will affect the FSLN’s electoral campaign? Does this scandal express internal FLSN struggles? So far it’s the most talked-about—though not the only—corruption case the media have exposed despite the wall of silence sur¬rounding the government. And considering what the media have revealed, it is a chain that leads right up to the circle of power round the President-Candidate. Days after this storm hit, information began to appear, or reappear, about acts of corruption in the Managua mayor’s office, also headed up by the FSLN, and in the customs division, similarly linked to people within the tight presidential circle. The president of the National Assembly’s justice commission, Liberal representative José Pallais, doesn’t consider them isolated acts, declaring that they’re covered in “the prints of a big animal; there’s a great party, a million-dollar dance of institutionalized corruption.”
Diagnosing the ailmentThe police investigation doesn’t mention “human failings” or “temptations.” It identifies the problem clearly: “The absolute discretion with which [Porras] acted to authorize the refunds.” And it concludes that discretion resulted in a network of officials dedicated to “negotiating directly with the contributors to obtain personal profit.”
The assessment is spot on. And it’s worth expanding the reflection to the whole of public administration. The implications of Waltergate are serious and should alert the citizenry, and particularly the government. The secretiveness, lack of transparency, limited respect for democratic standards of information about public affairs, scant or nonexistent accountability in the public institutions and hence absolute discretion in the administration of public resources have their limits. Failure to respect them conjures up storms with serious, unpredictable consequences, as the case of the DGI demonstrates.
Tax expert Julio Francisco Báez offered a more in-depth appraisal than the COSEP president: “What we have seen is a pustule on a sick body. The tax exonerations and special treatments are the mother of tax refunds. It is imperative that we address why so many privileges and exonerations exist since they have made the body, the unjust national tax system, gravely ill.”
Ortega’s candidacy While all this was blowing up, the electoral process continued developing in relatively calm waters, not because it lacks uncertainties, but because their resolution is predictable.
is “writ in stone”
As was expected, the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) accepted Daniel Ortega’s April 7 signing-up as a presidential candidate for reelection, disregarding all challenges presented by the other political parties participating in the race. CSE president Roberto Rivas, still holding that post nearly a year after his term ended, declared that Ortega’s registration was “written in stone” and “irreversible.” The CSE justified its acceptance of his candidacy—despite the constitutional prohibition of both consecutive reelec¬tion and a third term as President—based on the controversial Supreme Court resolution handed down at night, in record time and only by justices loyal to the FSLN.
According to the national electoral observation organization Ethics and Transparency Civic Group, which collected the opinion of numerous groups, institutions and jurists, Ortega’s candidacy “increases the possibility that the electoral process will fail to obtain the legitimacy needed to contribute to peace and democracy in the country, as well as ensure national and international acceptance of the authorities elected.”
Why the postponement?With the five presidential tickets for November 6 now registered, the FSLN-controlled CSE surprisingly postponed by three days the May 3 starting date for registering legislative candidate slates. It will now close on May 23.
The CSE gave no explanation, and as none of the four opposition parties/alliances had requested this, it was logical to assume that the governing party must have. Was it to buy time to resolve its own internal quarrels over who will make it onto the legislative slates or how close to the top of the list candidates are placed? Or was it to drag out for another two weeks the other parties’ internal quarrels over the same issue?
Still without observationAs expected, the electoral observation issue remains stalled, with the government yet to announce a clear decision. The CSE is still using the term “accompaniment” instead of “observation,” and still views the early arrival of any international observer mission as unnecessary. It has announced that regulations to which the “accompaniers” must submit will be published in August.
The CSE has taken the term “electoral accompaniment” from the Chávez government in Venezuela, which especially used it in last year’s hard-fought parliamentary elections. To sell the new concept better, the ruling party mobilized students from public high schools and groups of its own youth activists to go through the streets with songs, slogans and banners spreading the message that demanding observation amounts to promoting interference and undermining national sovereignty.
The National Assembly board, controlled by FSLN and PLC legislators, caught civil society representatives off guard by refusing to accept their submission of a bill establishing the CSE’s obligation to accredit national and international electoral observation. It later also refused to put this project on the agenda, even though it met the requisite of being submitted with the backing of 30,000 signatures.
The German Embassy is heading up a group of European Union countries promoting the use of international electoral observers. Nonetheless, the international community as a whole sensibly considers that those who should receive priority accreditation are the national observers.
Three Nicaraguan observation organizations—Ethics and Transparency, the Institute for Advice and Develop¬ment (IPADE) and Let’s Make Democracy—are preparing for the possibility of being denied accreditation by establishing coordination and promoting training of the greatest possible number of ordinary voters to observe any irregularities that occur on election day. Let’s Make Democracy announced that it already has 3,000 volunteers and has European Union funding to train them.
“Politically biased” As the days tick on, these three organizations are continuing to denounce what Ethics and Transparency calls the “politically biased” delivery to the population of the newly formatted ID cards, a document indispensable for voting and for any other transaction. Delivery is far faster for FSLN sympathizers and in some cases even only for them, with those the CSE structures perceive as opponents facing obstacles, unjustifiable delays or even flat denial of the card. This, plus the lack of any verification of what happens to the old card turned in when the citizen receives the new one, makes Ethics and Transparency fear the “risk of double voting,” since both formats will be valid this year.
carding of voters
In 80 municipalities investigated by IPADE, only 18 had carding offices. The organization also discovered that in the 62 municipalities with carding offices (out of a total of 153), those running the process are FSLN members, not CSE officials.
Unreliable voter rollsAnd as the days tick on, FSLN youth activists confided to envío, the CSE periodically gives the governing party the voter rolls to fine tune its campaign tactics. Meanwhile, the other parties can’t get a single copy of the list. They’re all warning that it hasn’t been purged of deceased voters or those who have left the country. IPADE calculates that 10% of the names on the roll have passed away or migrated. Trying to justify himself, Roberto Rivas brashly announced in early April that no country in Latin America has a cleansed voter list “and any that says it does is lying,” although he offered no evidence of this allegation.
That same day he announced that this year’s list has 4.2 million voters, which immediately raised suspicions that the CSE has actually inflated the list. The Sandinista Renovation Movement has repeatedly accused it of registering adolescents who have not yet reached the voting age of 16, but belong to circles close to the FSLN.
Meanwhile, Ethics and Transparency announced an audit for July of both the civic carding process and the voter list. Neither has been audited independently since the autonomous government elections on the Caribbean Coast in 2006, before the FSLN came to power.
Will participation be massive?In this uncertain and thus suffocating pre-electoral climate, M&R conducted a national poll between March 31 and April 3. The data already permit certain reflections, although it is understood that it’s too early to analyze them with significant reliability.
Interestingly, 55.4% of those surveyed say they have already decided to vote and another 28.4% say they will “probably” do so, while a combination of those who have already decided not to vote and those who “probably” won’t totals only 14.1%. If all the 83.8% who indicated they either will or probably will vote actually do, it will be a massive turnout, as has been traditional in Nicaragua’s electoral processes since 1984, especially in the presidential elections of 1990 and 2001.
Many believe that only a huge and also polarized vote could defeat the incumbent President, who is determined to be reelected on November 6. The erosion caused by 10 years of war and the fear provoked by the US government’s reaction to 9/11 contributed to such massive participation in February 1990 and November 2001, respectively, and further polarized the electorate in its rejection of Ortega.
Will the elections The M&R Poll included a question about what importance the population gives this year’s elections compared to those of 1990, which ended not only the FSLN’s more than 10 years in office, but also the war and the revolutionary experiment. An important 46.6% thinks the upcoming elections are more important than those of 1990, while another 43.9% views them as equally important. Is that whopping 90.5% total an indicator of massive participation? It’s not clear. Will many Nicaraguans living and working in the United States or Costa Rica come back to cast their vote? That’s not clear either. Even less clear is what polarizing element might make many absentees return and those still here turn out en masse.
be polarized this time?
What is clear is that the international context—Chávez’s Venezuela, Latin America as a whole and the rest of the world in general—was much more favorable to the FSLN in 2006, when Ortega won the elections, than it is now. This changing, uncertain world scenario, which might turn against Ortega at any moment, could provide the spark to polarize the electoral process into a two-candidate race.
Will the FSLN get itsAccording to the method M&R used—simulated and secret marking of a ballot and depositing it in a box—47.8% of those who plan to vote marked their ballot for Daniel Ortega and 31.8% left it unmarked. This latter percentage represents the “hidden” vote, which is not necessarily synony-mous with undecided. Only 20.5% marked their ballot for one of the registered opposition parties/alliances. These figures basically agree with a survey done by the governing party at roughly the same time and are also similar, with small variations, to the M&R poll of December 2010.
Having a 47.8% intention to vote for President Ortega as early as April is an important advantage, but doesn’t yet satisfy the governing party’s aspirations, as stressed in the February-March issue of the magazine Correo, whose target readers are FSLN activists. The FSLN political secretaries in Managua were given the following speech: “We are more, but we have to be more still to ensure a resounding victory, one that has no number. We’re not saying whether we want 60% or 50% or 80%. What we need to know is that we have to win the presidency and the National Assembly with an overwhelming majority… The People President wants to continue governing and also wants to become the People Legislator. That’s what we’re aspiring to in this Campaign of Victories.”
Might the governing party’s reticence to authorize electoral observation be linked precisely to this aspiration, which would give it the qualified majority of 56 legislative votes needed to make constitutional changes? Might it want to avoid any prying eyes that could demonstrate that the victory it’s already claiming as nailed down wasn’t quite so “resounding”?
By rejecting observation, the governing party is bucking the tide of public opinion: 95.1% of those polled want it, including 89.1% of those who admit to favoring the FSLN. And 84.1% consider that the observers must be free to issue opinions critical of the process, while barely 11.8% oppose them having that liberty. Only an unusually low 4.2% had no opinion.
In second placeThe novelty of this poll is who came in second in the voting intentions. Arnoldo Alemán no longer occupies that position, as he has in previous polls and pulse-takings. Fabio Gadea, running on the Nicaraguan Unity for Hope (UNE) alliance ticket and the Independent Liberal Party’s ballot slot, pulled 12.8%, a long way behind Ortega. Alemán came in third with 5.7%, less than half Gadea’s percentage. That gap between the two also-rans suggests that the alliance headed by Gadea is attracting people from Alemán’s Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC), although there’s no clear indication where the shift is coming from. Daily media reports indicate that it’s mostly in rural areas, where Alemán has traditionally had his deepest reservoir of support.
Members of the UNE-PLI alliance responded optimistically to the poll results, convinced that in the coming months they’ll be able to attract the bulk of the 31.8% undecided/hidden vote, given that 78% of all polled said they would never vote for Alemán. Gadea’s backers are also convinced they’ll be able to polarize the election, turning it into a Gadea vs. Ortega dispute that they’ll either win or force into a second round, in either case leaving the other three candidates eating their dust.
Another poll finding that’s feeding their optimism is that their candidate gets the best marks between “appealing” and “unappealing” among those who define themselves as “opposition” (11.6% of the polling sample) and “independent” (47.6%). Gadea rates 57.8% positive among the opposition and 18.2% positive among the independents, way ahead of the runners-up in those two voter categories: Alemán with –2.2% among the opposition and Ortega with 5.3% among the indepen¬dents.
What about the Ortega has more support in urban areas (49%) than rural ones (40%), which demonstrates that, despite the social programs targeting the poorest rural population, the FSLN’s major strength still lies in urban areas. His support is growing among adolescents and young adults (52.1%), to whom the FSLN is dedicating special attention this electoral year, in a new twist on the concept of “demographic dividend.”
rural and youth votes?
The FSLN’s special targeting of youth in its electoral campaign is obvious: improvements of emblematic public schools; scholarships; sports arenas; organizations for communicators, jocks, environmentalists… And it’s giving young people a lead role in all public acts.
An estimated 2-300,000 adolescents who turned 16 will vote in November for the first time. Those in the 16-25 age group, who either weren’t alive during the eighties or don’t remember them, will represent up to 38% of voters this year. The ghosts of those years that still scare many adults—war, shortages, military draft, property confiscations and the like—are alien or at least remote concepts to these younger voters.
They’ve grown up in an environment where the predominant political issue has been corruption: this one steals, that one steals more, they all steal… And they’ve been surrounded by social tolerance for the corruption and impunity on the principle that all politicians are crooked, so the issue is only who “gets things done.” Will Waltergate have any affect on the perceptions of young FSLN sympathizers who feel the party is doing things for them that other governments didn’t do?
With respect to the rural vote, the open question is how many votes the FSLN will harvest from the many recipients of productive food bonds or sheet metal roofing distributed by the governing party in rural areas where an anti-Sandinista stance is still a sign of identity.
What do people see
as the main problem?
The poll wasn’t limited to electoral issues; it also sounded out public opinion on other topics. Unemployment is still listed as the country’s main problem by a plurality (28.2%) of those polled, including 24.4% of those identified with the FSLN. A close second (23.8%) is the linked problem of poverty.
The fact that barely 4.5% consider corruption a worrying problem is an eloquent expression of the social tolerance for it. And less than 1% is concerned about illicit drugs, even though their most alarming manifestations—trafficking and domestic consumption—are making firm and rapid inroads in Nicaragua, with an accom¬panying rise in crime rates.
How many want to leave?Analyzing data always opens some fissures. If unemployment is the main cloud darkening Ortega’s electoral skies, those most concerned about it are precisely those in that 16-25 age group where the FSLN is winning over more sympathies with slogans, T-shirts, colorful posters and activities.
The following tidbit is also interesting in that sense: exactly half of those polled (50.1%) want to leave Nicaragua (35.3% of them for the United States, 26.9% for Spain and 20.9% for Costa Rica). And 65.9% of those are members of that same youth segment. Even 41.3% of those who said they identify with the FSLN want to go.
Why so many people? Is it the simple lack of jobs? Is it the effect of TV and movies that make the “American dream” a powerful magnet? Or is it that they sense a future in which employment either doesn’t figure or doesn’t offer an attractive opportunity to significantly improve their lives, leaving them to seek the “love, peace and life” of the governing party’s new official slogan in other countries?
A lot of unemployment but even more under-employmentUnemployment is a problem in all areas of the country and all households. And it’s aggravated by the variables occurring right now in Nicaragua’s population pyramid. Due to the dropping birth rate, the relative weight of children and pre-teens is shrinking each year. At the same time, the working-age population is growing, because the large numbers of young people from the earlier period of higher birth rates are now entering the job market, while a rising life expectancy rate means that fewer jobs held by older people are being vacated. As a result of these and other factors mentioned in the “Speaking Out” article in this issue, young people have real trouble finding work, particularly all those who were unable to get the kind of good professional or technical preparation that would give them a better chance of being hired.
Open unemployment has doubled over the four years of the Ortega administration and the real wages of those who do have work have lost value in the same period. The conditions in Nicaragua’s labor market are also continuing to deteriorate. At the close of 2006, the end of the Bolaños government, open unemployment was 5.1% of the economically active population. Today it’s 7.83%. The progressive departure of international cooperation agencies and the winding down of their projects has contributed to that increase, as have the layoffs and even closures of some free trade zone sweatshops due to the economic crisis in the United States, their prime market.
All economists agree, however, that the country’s main problem isn’t unemployment as much as under-employment: temporary, insecure and even ephemeral jobs with extremely low salaries, and massive self-employment of people trying to survive selling whatever they can wherever they can. The under-employment rate of 40% of the economically active population in 2009 rose to 53.7% last year.
An early celebration ofViolating a deeply rooted tradition, disregarding a date marked with blood on the calendar of the worldwide working class and contrasting with his leftwing colleagues in the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of America (ALBA), who staged massive rallies on Sunday, May 1, Daniel Ortega ordered that the commemoration of International Workers’ Day be held two days ahead of time, on Friday, April 29. That assured him that all state employees could be bussed directly to the site.
International Workers’ Day
To help explain the strange change of date, León Núñez, that sharp, perceptive analyst of national political culture, recently coined a new verb: sandinistear. “Public employees who participate in FSLN demonstrations and activities,” he wrote, “are under threat of losing their jobs if they don’t attend such events…. For public employees to sandinistear or not to sandinistear is almost equivalent to ‘eat or not to eat,’ which is even more important than to ‘be or not to be.’ This said, we have to point out from the viewpoint of the political sociology of the Nicaraguan language that those who sandinistear reach beyond just public employees, since, for example, some big businesspeople, traders and agricultural producers who are not Sandinistas can do it, and in fact spend most of their time doing it to protect their interests. In other words, they behave like Sandinistas not to eat, but to make a profit.”
The “solidarity bonus”In his April 29 speech, President-Candidate Ortega announced that he will increase by 170 córdobas the monthly bonus the government has provided for the past year to low-income public workers and a sector of retirees (some 155,000 people in total), bringing it up to $30. That extra, which the government calls a “Christian, socialist and solidarity bonus,” isn’t included in the national budget; the government says it comes out of Venezuela’s cooperation.
Responding to a requirement by the International Monetary Fund, the Central Bank released figures on that cooperation this month. According to the report, the government received US$511 million from Venezuela in 2010 from a combination of bilateral cooperation, direct investment and preferential treatment in Nicaragua’s payment for Venezuelan oil. If the bonus is coming out of the oil agreement, it’s generating national debt.
Civil Coordinator economist Adolfo Acevedo views the Central Bank report as deficient because it only provides “overall and unverifiable figures” about the absolutely discretionary use the government is making of this aid. According to the report, the government allocated US$31.5 million to the bonus for state workers and retirees last year. Acevedo says that amount “could perfectly well have been covered by the higher than expected tax collection and could thus be incorporated permanently into the budget, independent of anyone’s election or reelection. But the intent is to make it appear exclusively as President’s generosity.”
Trust in God or in money?Acevedo also underscored that adding up the total of Venezuelan cooperation, the amount in the national budget and traditional non-Venezuelan cooperation received in 2010, “no government in Nicaraguan history has had available resources of such a magnitude in a single year.”
Although Ortega says he “trusts in God” that he’ll win in November, what he really trusts in for his reelection is the degree of power these resources—administered at his sole discretion—give him to do or undo almost anything.
Are new storms brewing?The M&R poll shows a certain “fatalism” among those surveyed: 60% already believe Daniel Ortega will win the elections. Is that belief the effect of the omnipresent government propaganda, which fills streets, highways and all public institutions? Is it the conclusion of those who see the costly mass rallies in which the governing party demonstrates that “we’re more”? Is it an idea rooted in the grateful declarations of those benefited by the government’s social programs? Is it the expression of the resigned, religiously rooted passivity that seems to have an increasingly widespread sector of our population in its thrall? Or is it that the opposition has so far failed to ignite any hope of a better alternative?
Will these perceptions change? We don’t know. What we’ve learned this month is that the model, style and course imposed on public administration by the governing party, with its lack of transparency and accountability and its absolute discretion over public resources that should be equitably distributed for the common good, could be forecasting new storms with very negative consequences not only for the governing party but for all of us living in this country, in fact for the country itself.