Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winds of Change in Culture Ministry?

The date for a report from the investigative commission appointed by Porfirio Lobo Sosa to look into the work conditions and financial management of the Secretaria de Cultura, Arte, y Deportes (SCAD) has come and gone. But that doesn't mean we can comment on the report.

El Heraldo on Thursday said that Lobo Sosa was not happy with the report, that it simply repeated the conclusions drawn under previous investigations without concretizing anything.

Perhaps more interesting, they say that Porfirio Lobo Sosa is having trouble finding a replacement for Bernard Martinez.

Their source, El Heraldo tells us, is an anonymous person in the executive branch, who told them:
"He's been looking, but he hasn't been able to get a confirmation from those he had thought of for Culture."

As a result, Lobo Sosa has extended for another 15 days the suspension of Bernard Martinez and Godfredo Fajardo, and has asked the commission to come back at the same time with a more concrete report-- one imagines, to give him cause for making the changes he is trying to engineer.

In the meantime, the Tribunal Superior de Cuentas (TSC) has launched an audit of purchases made during the last two years under Bernard Martinez's oversight.

There were so many accusations of impropriety placed with them that they had put this auditing of SCAD into their 2012 budget. The TSC has already determined that Martinez needs to better account for 2 million lempiras he spent, and that Fajardo needs to better account for 87 million lempiras, or be held accountable for repaying that amount to the state.

The Corruption Prosecutor is awaiting the results of the TSC investigation to bring charges on any documented abuses.

One problem with finding a replacement for Bernard Martinez may be that Lobo Sosa has publicly pledged that any replacement of ministers who were part of the much-hyped "government of reconciliation" will come from the same party as the minister being replaced.

In the case of SCAD, that means the Partido de InnovaciĆ³n y Unidad (PINU) to which Martinez belongs, which would greatly restrict the pool of candidates.

Of course, it may also simply be the case that, having suffered now from the notorious Myrna Castro administration ("Fashion is culture too") and the Bernard Martinez interval ("Very few of us know the concept of culture") SCAD is a Ministry no sane, qualified person would take on.

In the meantime, although suspended, Bernard Martinez and Godfredo Fajardo continue to receive their salary.

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