MAIPU – The mayor of Maipú, Cathy Barriga, is once again under the spotlight. Her behavior on social media as well as her seemingly growing alliances with local businesses have caused critics. People claim she is misusing her post and appropriating municipal funds for personal gain.
Earlier this month, the camera savvy mayor participated in the Kiki challenge, a social media phenomenon in which people get out of their cars to dance to Drake’s latest single “In My Feelings”. The video, showing Barriga getting out of a moving vehicle and dancing, garnered a lot of attention as well as condemnation. Critics pointed out that not only does the video promote dangerous behavior, but also that the car and the driver in the video are those provided to the mayor solely for official duties.
Indeed, the Contraloría General de la República (Comptroller General of the Republic) found the video to be proof of inappropriate use of municipal property and funds and fined Barriga 10% of her salary (a fine of $539,801 pesos) and also gave her a citation for recording another self-promotional video back in August of this year.
Unfortunately for the mayor, more accusations are now coming to light against her. This time she is accused of accepting a series of expensive gifts which she then proceeded to raffle off to garner publicity for the gift-giving companies and forge alliances for personal benefit.
One such gift was a Kia Rio 4, valued at almost $7.5 million pesos, from Pompeyo Carrasco motors. The gift was classified as a “donation” under lobby law and given away by Barriga in a public draw sponsored by none other than Pompeyo Carrasco. Shortly after, the Maipú municipality officially acquired a van for the Municipality Drinking Water and Sewerage Service, once again from Pompeyo Carrasco, for as discounted price of $16 million pesos.
Yet another partnership Barriga is accused of forming is one with Sun Monticello, a casino and hotel situated in Mostazal, Chile. Barriga allegedly obtained almost 4,300 tickets to concerts, theater shows and other events to put up for raffle. The mayor also received 300 tickets for a boxing match taking place at the casino which she handed out to Maipú residents with the addition of free transportation supplied by the municipality.
Lack of integrity and legal precedent
Legal experts argue that the aforementioned gifts received by the mayor do not meet the parameters established by law and step outside acceptable limits of lobbying. Cathy Barriga is accused of inappropriately using her position to further her personal interests as well as those of third parties with whom she has formed alliances.
The mayor’s credibility has certainly been damaged in the eyes of those that find it inappropriate for political figures to accept extravagant gifts, but it remains to be seen whether the Comptroller will put forth further charges against Barriga and whether there is any long lasting damage to the Maipú mayor’s political career.
Born in Ukraine but raised in Canada since a young age, Kateryna Kurdyuk has since acquired a Masters of Media Studies and Communication from University of Melbourne in Australia and worked in the education field in Dubai, UAE. While currently working as an English Professor in Santiago, Chile, Kateryna is using her extensive experience living and travelling abroad to contribute as a writer to the emerging independent English-language media in Chile.