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By Philip Sever, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – In an attempt to increase transparency in their actions the Prefeitura (local government) has implemented “Operation Visibility”. This will allow citizens to see where public money is spent by politicians and see how politicians use their time.

This new policy has been implemented after numerous recent corruption allegations against politicians in the Lula administration. The general public conception is that although Lula is a trustworthy politician, most of the politicians beneath him and at the grass roots level are not. The Prefeitura here in Rio has therefore implemented Operation Visibility in an attempt to improve public trust with the politicians and political processes in Rio.

A neutral observer will be assigned to ensure that all actions by politicians can be seen and that there is no selection by politicians in what the public can and cannot view. At this moment the observer has not been named. This role will be crucial if the policy is to be successful in its aims.

The Prefeitura has also created “Ouvidoria”, a direct form of communication with the citizens. The Prefeitura states on its website that Ouvidoria allows you “to resolve all your complicated problems”. Ouvidoria preceded Operation Visibility and is another means of improving communication and transparency between the Prefeitura and the citizens of Rio.

Ouvidoria allows citizens to call and speak with an Ouvidoria (listener) and try and resolve their problems. Citizens can call the prefeitura and all possible services that the prefeitura offers and are most likely to solve the specific problem are offered to the citizen. In this manner the prefeitura is able to demonstrate a clear link between people stating their problems and the government dealing with these problems for the benefit of its citizens.

Will these new policies be affective in increasing public trust with Rio’s politicians?

Ouvidoria if implmented succefully could be successful in generating trust between citizens and their political leaders. People will be able to see action in resolving their problems. Many citizens complain that they do not see where their taxes are spent. Ouvidoria will clearly be able to demonstrate action in progress.

The conception that politicians in Brazil are corrupt is a widely held one, and not something that will change instantly. It will take several years if not decades for people to trust politicians completely and will not be done by small token policies. At the same time the reputation for dishonesty in politicians is hard to change anywhere, in Rio, as well as the rest of the world.

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