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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Falling Down. Corruption, Bridges and Factories in Bangladesh. 

The above link summarizes most of the facts of this blog. 

"The Padma River is a natural barrier that cuts Bangladesh in half. The economy suffers because it is so difficult to move people and cargo from one side to the other. The government here came up with a plan to build a bridge. The World Bank agreed to fund it. And then the Canadian company SNC Lavalin got involved and everything went sour. The cost to the poor people of Bangladesh is enormous. Ten of thousands of people cross the Padma River each day in rickety ferries. Hundreds die every year in ferry accidents. Moving cargo is even more treacherous."

-Terrence McKenna

Last night I was watching a feature article on the building of a bridge in Bangladesh by a Canadian mega company called SNC Lavalin.The bottom line is that the bridge, which is sorely needed in Bangladesh to save lives and stamp out poverty, is not being built because of corruption in the Bangladesh government and bribes that were paid by Lavalin to the "right" officials to secure the contract.

You can blame Canadian companies all you want, and they certainly are deserving of plenty of blame, but the fact is that Bangladesh is a very corrupt country. At one time, it was considered to be the most corrupt country in the world. So, it is hardly surprising that a factory was built that was not to any safety code standards. You can be certain that someone was paid off to look the other way when it was built and to look the other way when it was obvious it was dangerous. The Bangladesh government, who live in palaces and eat the best foods, send their kids to overseas Universities and are living the good life, enhanced by bribes, don't care either way.

Until Bangladesh gets its own act together, it will not stop. The onus is on the Bangladesh people to rise up against their own deep ceded corruption and eliminate it. That is the only way that they stop it and the poverty they live in. No Canadian or Western country can do anything that makes any difference until that happens.

I am not making any excuses for SNC Lavalin, nor do I condone their behavior. But they understand the game and how it is played. I am sure they would love to not have to pay bribes out to Bangladesh politicians, or Libyan ones, or any of the other countries that are run by corrupt governments (of which most of the world is), but it is how you do business there. 
Are they corrupt? No doubt. The World Bank has banned them from working on any of their projects for the next 10 years. They don't take a step like that unless they know what is going on.
But if Lavalin doesn't pay them, some other company will. So, the onus still rests on the Bangladesh government to get their act together. And since history has shown that it won't, it is up to the people there to rise up and make it happen. And I predict it will in the near future. I am certain that we will see civil war and a lot of blood shed in that country, because that is the only way to stamp out widespread, poverty generating corruption. The history of the world tells us that. Even the grand United States of America had to go through that stage to get to the next phase. I can't think of any country in the world that didn't. Corrupt and evil dictators and governments don't give in willingly because they are humanitarians. They have to be forced out, usually with some show of violence and strength.

Yes, 1100 people died in that factory in Bangladesh. But tens of thousands are dying because a bridge is not being built. A bridge that could easily have been built by now if not for the corruption that is Bangladesh and large multinational companies who skim the money off the poor people's backs in these types of things. The World Bank was ready to fund this venture. But now, it is not happening.There was world outrage over the building falling, but there is nothing about the bridge not being built, which is not sensational but will result in many more dying over time. Just like in the Sandy Hook shooting in December, 27 died that day, but thousands more have died since and nobody talks about that. It isn't as shocking or newsworthy.
Meanwhile, more factories will fall to the ground. More bribes will be paid to make sure it keeps happening and nothing is done about it, and life...and death..will go on in Bangladesh.
Wherever you find corrupt governments, you will find extreme poverty. Bangladesh is the poster child for that theory. Falling buildings and bridges that don't get built are the proof of that. Companies that pay bribes are not the issue. They are simply the result of the original problem. They may be parasites on the world, but they aren't the problem. The problem is still the existing corrupt government. Until that is eliminated, no amount of good or bad will by Western multinationals will any difference either way. As soon as the World Bank pulled out, the Chinese and Indians moved in and they funded it. And the corruption goes on.
Until the root cause is eliminated, it always will. And the truth of the matter is that the corruption continues unabated much longer if the bridge isn't built. Because it is much easier to maintain control and corruption as long as the populous doesn't have the means to rise up. Building the bridge is the best thing that could ever happen for the poor Bangladesh people and the worst thing that could happen to corrupt politicians. Which is why it hasn't happened yet, despite the politicians claims they want it to.
The big multinationals don't care either way. They don't have a side in this struggle. They are just there to get in, get their profit and get out. Focusing on them is missing the point.

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