In the Central American Republic of Santa Banana, the government of President Gloria En Excesses Deo has vowed to eliminate corruption wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head. By this, she means “eliminate from view.”It is for this reason that every effort is taken by her and the highest officials in her government to keep all instances of graft and corruption hidden in the presidential closet.Unfortunately, in Santa Banana, the best laid schemes of mice and rats are often upset by the cats and the dogs, in a manner of speaking. Occasionally – in fact, all too frequently in the past few months – cases of corruption involving the presidential husband, Don Fatsolo, have reared their ugly heads despite laborious efforts to conceal them.The president has blamed this on the utter incompetence of her cabinet ministers and the associates of Don Fatsolo.“Won’t you idiots ever learn to commit a perfect crime?” she was once heard to complain at a ministers’ meeting.These lapses have been an opportunity for her political opponents to call for her resignation (so that they can take over the rackets).Realizing that her administration cannot realistically expect to hide one hundred percent of its many instances of corruption, the president’s chief advisers have developed the tactic called “cancellability.”“Cancellability” was inspired by the tactic called “deniability” devised by the late US President Ronald Reagan. Political observers may recall that Reagan successfully used ”deniability” a number of times when his foreign policies, involving Iran and Latin America, came under fire in the US Senate.
Former President Bill Clinton also used “deniability” when the US Congress tried to impeach him due to his alleged affair with Monica Lewinsky (“I never had sex with that woman.”). President George W. Bush has often used “deniability” in connection with the Iraq war. In his case, Bush simply denies that he knows what he is doing.
But to go back to President Excesses Deo: In the crisis currently boiling in Santa Banana, she has been accused of abetting a colossal overprice on a contract between her country and the People’s Republic of China. Worse yet, it involves – as usual – her husband, Don Fatsolo.
When the excrement hit the airconditioning (a Santa Banana euphism for that gross American idiom about the sh__ hitting the fan), President Excesses Deo had the contract cancelled.
In a subsequent radio interview, she claimed to have known all along that there were irregularities in the contract, but she allowed it to be signed (with her as witness) in the name of good foreign relations, even while she intended, all along, to have it cancelled.
“As a matter of fact, I immediately acted on it,” she stressed.
This cancellation happened over five months after the contract signing. In Santa Banana, that is defined as “immediate.”
For perspective, a “speedy” court trial in Santa Banana usually takes twenty years. As an example, graft cases filed against, Imelda Magellan, the widow of the late President Ferdinand Magellan (no relation to the famous explorer) was recently decided in her favor after over two decades.
Another application of the tactic of cancellability may be in the offing. This concerns a contract signed by Santa Banana’s National Oil Company with the governments of China and Vietnam for seismic studies to be conducted on a group of islands being claimed by all three countries.
Recent questions concerning the constitutionality of the agreement have prompted the president’s executive secretary to announce that “a Cabinet team is studying if Santa Banana will pursue the controversial joint seismic study of our country, China, and Vietnam on the disputed Sprightly islands in the South Carribean Sea.”
Note that this “study” on the possibility of cancellation will be conducted three years after the agreement was signed. But that is how fast action in Santa Banana takes.
In July 2002, the militant Santa Banana press reported that “only six of 35 contracts between the government and independent power producers (IPPs) passed muster in a review by an inter-agency committee looking into allegedly scurrilous deals with the state-owned power firm.” This referred to the Santa Banana National Power Corporation.
One news dispatch reported: “President Excesses Deo ordered government agencies to prepare for possible legal action and renegotiation of as many as 22 other contracts with IPPs as part of efforts to cut electricity rates.
“The Inter-Agency Review Committee(IARC) that studied the contracts was formed last year by the President to look into allegations that the electricity producers were overcharging. She did not specify what the irregularities were.”
Needless to say, if the excrement had not hit the airconditioning, the IARC would not have been constituted – which, of course, is another component of the tactic of cancellability. When a scandal explodes, the president immediately forms an investigative committee while she has the questionable deal cancelled.
In still another use of the tactic of cancellability, the Santa Banana media reported late last year: “Irked by reports of alleged irregularities in the government’s bidding and procurement process, President Gloria En Excesses Deo has ordered a thorough review of the suspended road projects under the Santa Banana National Roads Improvement and Management Program (SBNRIMP).
“The President’s action was prompted by the suspension of the World Bank loan to road projects under the SBNRIMP following reports of alleged bid-rigging. The President also ordered the Santa Banana Anti-Graft Commission (SBAGC) to report on the suspended road projects, and consult the World Bank and other funding agencies if there are anomalies to investigate.”
Another major project cancelled, or at least suspended, by President En Excesses Deo was the new Santa Banana Harry Belafonte International Airport (named after the country’s national hero) due to allegations of kickbacks and overpricing.
Of course, for every project cancelled because of an exposé, there are dozens that are signed and implemented, unnoticed. This has yielded billions in commissions for her family members, allies and friends. Still, being a perfectionist, President Excesses Deo is quite unhappy over the cases of corruption that have been exposed.
“We should do a better job of keeping them in the closet,” she concedes. “Meanwhile, thank heavens for cancellability!”
Note that when cancellability does not work, another tactic is applied: “Disappearability.” In this case, incriminating contracts or hostile witnesses are made to disappear.