Complicated Pathways / Fernando Damaso

Photo: Rebeca

A citizen decides to solve the housing problem of his daughter and grandchildren by deeding her the roof of his house so she can build on top of it. He begins by submitting an application to the Ministry of Housing, but they first require a report from the city architect and a permit from Physical Planning. He has made attempts to do this, but he has been waiting for the document from the architect for a month, and more than six months for the one from Physical Planning. Thus far nothing has happened.

In spite of having delivered the products they were contracted to provide, the workers of an agricultural production cooperative do not receive money owed to them since 2009 from a farm belonging to the same cooperative. All their demands for payment are unsuccessful.

Another citizen, who was a victim of a flood caused by a storm in 1996, is given a house in 2002. Ten years later, in spite of having completed all the applications, he still has not been able to obtain title to his property.

A third citizen goes to Immigration to submit an application They require that she first present an original birth certificate. She can only request one at a time from the Civil Registry Office, and must wait fifteen days for delivery. When she goes back with the original certificate, they tell her they do not accept copies.

These accounts are not fictional. They are actual cases selected at random. The questions that arise are: Have they crippled the legal application process for citizens, and why is obtaining a document so burdensome? Where is the so-called rationalization of these services?

The governmental bureaucracy exists in all state agencies. They provide fertile ground for it to take root and grow. This is not the case in private, service-oriented businesses because, in a competitive world, this would lead to bankruptcy. Instead, administrative staffs are small and function efficiently. On the other hand, under socialism—with its massive and inefficient administrations—this adverse phenomenon finds its fullest expression. This is understandable. Since everything belongs to the state, these are the”power centers” that give it a feeling of importance. In spite of the laws, regulations, directives and resolutions drafted by the nation’s top leaders to combat it, the bureaucracy continuesusing its weaponryto resist efforts to displace it. What would become of it if this were to happen?

The only effective way to confront it is to reduce the number of agencies from which it operates, simplifying the application process to essentials and eliminating unnecessary paperwork. It is also vital to abandon the obsolete and absurd politics of control, which in fact control absolutely nothing and hinder everything. Until this happens, the bureaucracy will continue demanding respect while citizens pay the price in lost time and money, as well as in mistreatment and added aggravation.

August 30 2012