Opinion August 24, 2020 | 9:52 am

Dominican Republic’s most pressing challenge

Miguel Terc, Dominican Today Op-Ed contributor

An inheritance that cushions our journey through life is a form of financial bonanza. So is ignoring the acts of corruption from previous governments and dispensing impunity, equivalent to granting a license for future misdeeds by an incoming government and a blessing to readily commit more acts of graft, corruption and influence peddling.

The newly elected government of Dominican Republic has the obligation and mandate to prosecute former officials, and demand the restitution of stolen funds from those found guilty of corruption of past administrations. This sanction should be applied fairly and evenly, being careful not to incur in political persecutions.

Those who commit acts of corruption and those who allow them are just as culpable and must therefore be prosecuted accordingly.

Corruption by taking advantage of positions of political power is one of the worst punishable crimes, because it affects the greatest amount of people, destroying their hopes by subtracting moneys that could have been invested in alleviating hunger, promoting health and education initiatives, or improving infrastructure. Graft and corruption are unforgivable crimes against the welfare of the citizenry. A sin that Dante condemned to the Eighth Circle of Hell.

Embezzlement of public funds sets off a dizzying spiral of secondary effects that undermine the foundations of the democratic system, the social and cultural order and public morality.

Impunity has become culturally ingrained, because some triumphant politicos consider it as an unwritten rule and an entitlement. Even if some of the damage from graft and corruption could be reversed, the conditions for any leniency should require at a minimum the return of the stolen moneys and the complete restitution of the misappropriated assets, but even if this is accomplished, not all the damage from graft and corruption could be reversed.

The Dominican Republic now and all its future generations will be thankful to President Luis Abinader and his newly appointed justice officials, if they were to prosecute those found guilty of graft and corruption to firmly stop its continuation.

If undertaken by the new administration this inquiry into past misdeeds will set a before and after, giving a much needed example of transparency and accountability that Dominican citizens need now more than ever.

The initial steps toward public decency must be taken immediately.