It takes a while before you get it. Our eyes were opened reading the newspaper that was given to us for free by the man in the kiosk. The title: Messages from your municipality. In it mayor after mayor of the different municipalities,
Lima has 39, who announces "obras". Articles with Work to be done, to be completed or machines that have been purchased to do the work. Especially stairs and walls are popular and are summed up round numbers: 300 stairs, 30 wall. Stairs connect the houses
build on the hills, walls ensure that the earth does not slide and houses are buried. The construction of these things is simple and effective: residents experience an instant improvement of their daily live. More complicated facilities, water, electricity,
sewage, are less popular undertakings. Complex issues such as transparency and proper administrative functioning are up to now not publicized as 'work in progress'.
For us construction work is bad news: open streets, diversions. Budget overruns. Many
aldermen are sent home because of them. Here, the opposite applies. Here building is a sign of managerial vigor. Around election time, it is so bad that the city is blocked up for weeks: anyone who wants to be reelected breaks the open street. Why? Because,
here something happens that is quite unimaginable for us: every mayor puts his name on the building sign: "This work is brought to you by: mayor this and that". This building is made under the direction of ... In parks there are plaques: thanks to this gentleman
you now enjoy shadow. We get really annoyed: why thank you? You are just doing your job. Serving the public interest. We expect, no, demand, public administrators to be incorruptible .
Here the mayor behaves himself as the landowner who
shows how well he treats his subjects. A staircase, a wall, it's actually a favor. Some are more democratic and modest, like the current mayor Susana Villarán, She refuses to sign her own name and instead just puts: Lima has done this. On the street
this doesn't communicate. They say: She does nothing, no obras, she is weak. While more stairs are built, more walls against subsidence are constructed, the express train runs after 20 years of planning.
Not signing, but just serving the
people, it is the first step towards the normalization of relations between authorities and citizens. The next step can be more transparency and proper auditing. Because there is an additional reason for doing many obras: nothing lends itself so well
to shady accounting and favourism. But that is not on the plaque.