Peace Corps Writers
Corrupting Future Prosecutors (page 2)
Corrupting Future Prosecutors
page 1
page 2

     Corruption, of course, has existed throughout the world for a long time. In the past couple years, America has been rocked and revolted by Enron, MCI WorldCom and Tyco, these sickening corporate scandals fueled by executive greed. That stuff goes on here too, but few seem to care. Well, now and then you see a businessman, a Romanian mayor, or a member of Parliament or the Cabinet hauled off or resigning in shame, and it makes the news for a night and these poster boys (and girls) are trophy examples to try to show the Romanian people, or more importantly, those watchful bureaucrats at the EU, that there is a crackdown, or at least an attempt thereof.
     What is different in Romania is that corruption exists at every level you can imagine, from big bucks to chump change. There are supposedly seven words in Romanian for “bribe,” though I only know four. Corruption here, though not as frowned upon as other places, ranges from payoffs to get a job at the local Chamber of Commerce or many other places of employment, to hefty bribes to avoid compulsory military service or get out of an arrest. Let’s not even talk about judges. Or how about the common practice of not giving a receipt and keeping the payment, skimming bank tellers and cashiers, paying principals to get your kid in the right school, bus drivers who pick up passengers roadside then pocket the fares, bribing a doctor for an appointment sooner than later or the hospital nurse and custodian to make sure you have changed sheets and water — to the really ridiculous like a train station security guard offering an unsolicited safety tip about your backpack or offering to help buy a ticket, then angrily demanding a “commission” of $2 or $3, not insignificant relative to salaries or train fares. It’s endless.
     Romania’s “high” ranking in corruption came as no surprise to me or other foreigners living here — probably not to Romanians either — nor was Romania’s recent tie* for the “least happy” country in the world based on a British magazine survey. No wonder. The good news? Most Romanians I know and with whom I’ve spoken loathe this activity, but alas, it’s the “system” and they are stuck with it. Pay to play, or you’re not in the game. It starts with the government and other power centers, working its way out like a virus, people say. VIPs from the U.S. Ambassador and other diplomats to international executives have criticized the system while encouraging reform that could lead to more foreign investments, only to be smacked down by paranoid government bigwigs. At least it’s being discussed more in the open, some arrests have been made and there is a new anti-corruption law and task force. Still, this isn’t going away any time soon.
     Romanians have a favorite saying that translates to “In Romania, all things are possible.” Rest assured, they don’t mean it in the “American Dream” sense.

*Tied with Armenia and Russia.

Another photo from Andy's outing

A campus walkway

Before joining the Peace Corps, Andy Trincia was a corporate communications executive in the financial services industry. Sworn in on August 16, 2002, he is working at the West University of Timisoara, as a business consultant for the Center for Career Development, and is also teaching courses. We have asked Andy to file reports for his two years of service of what his life is like working and living in Romania. In recent weeks, Andy visited the American University in Bulgaria, which is now collaborating with his career center, and he won a grant to attend an NGO Youth Forum in Serbia & Montenegro. He will finish his Peace Corps tour at the end of July next year.
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