My path to the transparency work

Every time I am asked to write a paper, I get worried because I don´t know if I will be able to catch the reader´s attention. I see other papers from my IACA friends and frankly, it is difficult to compete with all the knowledge and experience most of them have in the fighting against corruption.

I am not a lawyer or work as a magistrate or trainer in compliance, I am a professional who provides technical assistance to give the tools and resources to fight corruption.

When I began this journey back in 2005, I knew what corruption was, I had faced it many times but didn´t know the ways to prevent it or fight it. Then I started organizing books and documents from my boss, and this developed my knowledge and interest in organizations, institutions and international initiatives that are in place to prevent corruption. I was so caught up on the topic, asking many questions that my supervisor suggested I participate in meetings and trainings (by this time I was an administrative assistant) so I could learn more and understand the importance of my work. Later I joined the technical team and began supporting civil society organizations in their activities and initiatives to organize the communities, training them in fields such as the rule of law, social monitoring, and accountability.

Throughout the years I have been learning more and more about transparency, access to public information, social monitoring, open data, compliance and other areas essential for the well-being of our society.

In the last 5 years I have been leading the design of trainings on access to public information, design of awareness campaigns on the right to information, promoting open data and other topics related to large and small corruption, however, there is still a lot of work to do.

El Salvador is facing very difficult times, and since quarantine began in 2020 due to the COVID-19, the Anti-Corruption and Legal Advice Center (the Local Chapter of Transparency International in El Salvador) have identified multiple violations of probity. Public officials dismiss any investigation into corruption cases.  The information on the number of cases of infections and deaths from COVID-19, purchases and public contracts has been declared as reserved, as well as other data that are important for the Salvadoran population. But what is worse is that there is a great percentage of Salvadorans who approved these measures. Why? I believe it is because people were tired of the corruption of previous governments and whatever this government does must have good reason for their actions.

On many occasions I have felt frustrated because despite all the work that has been done, people do not seem to understand the damage that corruption causes them. But then I remember the progress made especially with vulnerable populations who, in addition to putting into practice what they have learned about the right of access to information, are replicating their knowledge so that little by little we achieve an informed society. Also, I remember the happiness of Alicia, a 68-year-old woman who through a long process succeeded in finding a truck that was donated to the municipality but taken by the mayor for personal use.

Working against corruption can be frustrating and dangerous for you and your family, so it is important that while it is possible, society, its members, organizations, and institutions be strengthened to be able to identify and stop it.

This fight is not a one-person fight, it is a battle with a huge army integrated by teachers, lawyers, priests, students, all the professionals and nonprofessionals, young and old.

Having the support of specialized institutions like IACA is important since we are always in need of new knowledge, methods, and techniques to give assistance to civil society organizations. IACA´s trainings bring us the opportunity to learn and meet professionals who are willing to share their experience and make our work better.

So, from my small post I will keep supporting, guiding, and leading activities that will contribute to transparency. Maybe I cannot change the whole world but at least I will try in the little country where I was born.

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