Countering Corruption and Increasing Transparency through Chilean and U.S. Congressional Mentorship

  • Scott Nemeth

Shared histories, a common language, and emerging democratic legislatures are common threads that link Colombia, Guatemala and Peru.

Citizens in each country have overwhelmingly voiced their support for the growth and sustainability of democratically-elected governments, and as a result, leaders in these countries are eager to implement reforms that develop policies that address citizen needs. Over the past 10 years, the House Democracy Partnership (HDP), a bi-partisan commission of the U.S. House of Representatives that builds relationships with 21 countries around the world to strengthen legislatures, and the International Republican Institute (IRI) have been working with legislators and staff in each of these countries to further strengthen their legislatures to maintain stable and efficient democratic governments. Stronger legislatures are vital to expanding economies, increasing global security and including citizens in the decision-making process.

To continue this collaboration and strengthen the legislatures of these three countries, HDP and IRI are collaborating with the National Congress of Chile, to convene a regional seminar for members and leaders from the national legislative bodies of Colombia, Guatemala and Peru in order to learn about key best practices and insights from Chile’s democratic and legislative evolution.  Over the past 20 years, Chile has developed a sophisticated legislature that has become responsive to citizen concerns and needs.   The seminar will focus on an exchange of ideas between delegates on topics that include: countering corruption, increasing transparency through citizen engagement and working across party lines to implement inclusive, beneficial legislation. Utilizing the Chilean legislature as a model, delegates will brainstorm ideas on how to further achieve the topics and themes discussed during the seminar.

A core component of HDP’s mission is a peer-to-peer collaboration between the 21 HDP partners and the U.S. House of Representatives. During the regional seminar, delegates will have the opportunity to learn from and exchange ideas with a 5-member U.S. delegation that includes the founding member of HDP, former Congressman David Dreier (R-CA), as well as former Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA). Congressman Farr, who served in the Peace Corps in Colombia, has been instrumental in supporting U.S. efforts in Latin America, including Plan Colombia. Both members will have the opportunity to share their lessons learned from their time in office and how those lessons can be useful to the delegations. The delegations will also be joined by IRI regional and legislative strengthening experts who will facilitate the seminar and work with each country to develop long-term action plans related to the core topics that will be discussed, which is vital to furthering HDP’s mission of strengthening legislatures. 

HDP laid the groundwork for this program during a September 2017 Congressional Delegation to Santiago and Valparaiso. HDP Chairman Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Ranking Member Rep. David Price (D-NC) developed a dialogue with their counterparts in the National Congress of Chile with the notion that Chile become a regional mentor to the HDP LAC partners with the goal of sharing the Chilean experience and journey on their path to a stable and inclusive democratic legislature. By learning from the Chilean experience, members of parliament from the participating countries will have the opportunity to take ideas back from Chile and apply them to their own unique contexts to strengthen their legislature and meet the needs of citizens as they continue their democratic journeys. 

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