February News 2021

Currently @ LATINNO

Vaccination campaigns against Covid-19 have launched in several Latin American countries. However, the uneven allocation of vaccines threatens to prolong the pandemic in the region. Efforts to guarantee equal access to vaccines are challenged both by the difficulties that regional governments are facing to secure enough doses and  by corruption scandals.

This month, irregularities and nepotism became evident in Peru, Argentina and Chile, where the early vaccination of several high-ranked public officials -skipping the priority order- resulted in the resignation of several government members. In Brazil, the government of Rio de Janeiro initiated an investigation for potential diversion of vaccine doses after citizens reported being vaccinated with empty syringes. 

In addition to current scrutiny on the vaccine scandals, several officials and politicians in the region are being investigated due to irregularities in the use of public funds intended for the management of the pandemic. To face this discouraging panorama, this month’s newsletter presents citizen initiatives that aim to increase transparency and accountability by monitoring the use of public funds destined to combat Covid-19.


Covid-19 Citizen Oversight Commission - Dominican Republic

Created in April 2020 by President Danilo Medina, the Covid-19 Citizen Oversight Commission is an independent body in charge of monitoring the purchases and contracts signed by the Government during the emergency triggered by the pandemic. According to the decree through which the Commission was created, this oversight body includes five representatives from different civil society groups, designated by the President. The following civil society organizations are represented in the Commission: The National Council of Private Enterprises, the Dominican Confederation of Small and Medium Enterprises, the Evangelical Churches, the Catholic Church, and the Dominican Newspaper Association.

Social Audit of the Caring for Panama Program - Panama

Implemented in April 2020, the “Caring for Panama” Social Audit was created by a cooperation agreement between the General Comptroller of the Republic of Panama and the Commission of Justice and Peace of the Panamanian Episcopal Conference. The aim of this initiative is to increase transparency and monitor the use of the public resources assigned to the Caring for Panama Program, which was implemented to help vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic by supplying them with food, medicines and purchase vouchers.

On the website of the Controllership, citizens can file complaints of irregularities in the use of public resources within the program. The complaints must contain some type of evidence, such as photos, videos, or testimonies, as well as information about the place, date and people involved in the incident. Before the complaint is published on the Comptroller's website, it must first be admitted by committees made up of lawyers, human rights defenders, and other relevant actors. Once a complaint is admitted, the first step is to send a warning letter to the local authorities and then start an investigation. The audit process has registered more than 180 complaints, from which 30 were admitted.

Lens on Transfers - Peru

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the civil association Proética launched the platform "Lens on Transfers". This tool aims to increase accountability regarding the funds that the government of Peru is using to combat the pandemic. As a response to the crisis, the federal government has transferred funds through emergency decrees, speeding up the mobilization of resources, but risking a lack of sufficient transparency. In this context, this initiative seeks to reduce this risk by observing and disseminating the results of its monitoring activities. 

The platform monitors how much money has been transferred to which institution, for what purpose, and by which decree. Proética has carried out a review of the transfers contemplated in the emergency decrees issued by the government as a way to promote the responsible use of public funds destined to face the pandemic.


Honduras Responds to Covid-19 - Honduras

Honduras Responds to Covid-19 is a project implemented by NuupLab, the first citizen innovation laboratory in Honduras, with the objective of identifying and mapping the initiatives developed in Honduras to face the pandemic. Citizens and organizations can register their initiatives against Covid-19 through an online form. All the information collected is used to create the "Map of Solutions to Covid-19 in Honduras", where citizens can consult existing initiatives and support those that are of interest to them. In this way, the project seeks to create collaborative networks and to articulate support between aid initiatives and volunteers or donors.