In Pan America we are suffering the evil of the ‘Silent President’. An evil so dangerous, dishonest and disrespectful that it can be a symptom that things are not going well. An evil so carcinogenic that it even goes against the principles established by the World Federation (WT) itself.
The story goes like this: In the twilight of the 2020 turmoil, Mr. Helder Navarro Carriazo stepped forward and assumed the interim position that many politicians dream of: the presidency of the Continental Taekwondo Union.
It does not matter if it is a temporary or a four-year mandate, the important thing is that the opportunity came up. However, the danger of getting there just like that is in getting intoxicated with power. Getting so intoxicated, but so intoxicated, that when you don´t like something, the tongue or fingers go numb.
Something like this happens with Mr. Helder, who lost communication, at least with MasTKD. The symptoms point to a diaphanous diagnose: power made him silent, but it is a selective silence – with taste and calculation – away from the media – at least from those whom he does not feel comfortable or stopped feeling that way.
Indeed, Mr. Navarro stopped answering and consequently limited access to the official version of information of public interest to the almost one million unique readers that MASTKD has, only in the Pan-American area, concentrated -especially- in the United States, Mexico, his native Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Chile and Argentina. We cannot forget the our readers from the other four continental unions.
There are issues on which the silence was more comfortable than issuing an official version. To name a few:
March 15: Did the WTPA considered that the rights of the Pan American G4 were given to Costa Rica? Why was the receipt of bids for the G4 host was opened? Had Costa Rica already paid the corresponding fee for the tournament? Although after investigation it was learned that Costa Rica gave in and Mexico took over the tournament, let’s contextualize: WTPA opened the call for interested countries to apply in record time to organize the G4 Pan American Championship, omitting – at least without clarification until today – that Costa Rica already had the tournament rights. At an editorial level, the question of the procedure arose, what happened?, why it was done in that way? whose idea was to do it like this? among others. The answer? The double blue WhatsApp check.
March 24 and 25: After a series of publications made by MASTKD about the risks of adopting the supply and demand law as a methodology to choose the host of WTPA events, the first example being the Pan American Youth Qualifier given to the Dominican Republic ; one weekend a member DR Taekwondo leadership called me to question me why MASTKD was telling that his country was the highest bidder. The answer was simple: “your federation offered US $ 25,000 to organize a tournament that was granted under the supply and demand law”. I added, embarrassed: “What’s more, I tell you something even more delicate: your country offered an extra US $ 15,000 for an event that could be organized by paying the minimum of US $ 10,000, since no other national federation even reached the bidding floor.” That person’s response was surprising: “we didn’t pay less because we were never notified that the tournament could be run for less money”.
Given the situation, on March 24 an interview with Mr. Helder was requested to clarify the doubts. Upon seeing that the messages were read and ignored, 23 hours later -on March 25- the questions were passed to him by audio: were the national federations officially notified of the change in methodology in choosing the host for the Junior Pan American Qualifier? If it was done, when was it done? What means were used?; or, if it was not done: to know why the presidents were not notified?, was the new outline updated? Guess what? the answer to all those questions were: double blue check, again.
February 3: An interview request was made on the subject of the Dominican Republic. However, the answer was silence.
Taking into account that a repetition of an act becomes a habit, I wonder: What happened to that man who, last November promised to implement tools of transparency, comprehensive development for Taekwondo in the region, access to information, to provide tools to publicize what was happening in the World Taekwondo Pan America (WTPA)? Where is he? What did ‘power’ do to him?
Once, not long ago, thinking about the current WTPA leadership – because yes, sometimes I sit down to analyze things that do not generate anything but questions – I remembered a phrase that someone told me in an off the record interview about a case of corruption in the Costa Rica Foreign Ministry: “Tell me what you bluff about and I’ll tell you what you lack”
Wise words. Right words. “Time reveals all truth”.
At that time, the first foreign minister in the history of Costa Rica resigned without giving specific reasons after seven months in office.
The resignation came after the Attorney General’s Office determined that the Chancellor made illegal appointments in the Yellow House (Costa Rica Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters).
The official argued in various media that her actions were correct, adhering to the principles of ethics and transparency of healthy democracies. She clung to her position and never accepted what eventually time showed: that her administration lacked all that she “bluffed about” and that her actions turned the national diplomacy into a piñata.
The modus operandi to manage the media questions was simple: the questions were received, the questions were sent via WhatsApp or e-mail, and it was expected that time would delay the issue of interest to answer or the answer was never sent at all.
When the official left the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a series of handwritten appointments were verified: embassies were given to former ministers and friends of the Government to pay political favors, appointments with potential influence peddling, tours with excessive overpayments or payments to unauthorized persons, among others. All of which is kept under investigation.
I am not saying that there is corruption in the WTPA. What I am saying is that all that Olympic education and enlightenment about which Mr. Helder spoke with pride when he assumed, remained in words and paper, not in deeds.
Mr. Helder probably stopped feeling comfortable when the issues about he was approached became more serious than a profile or about positive achievements. And it is understandable: there are people who will never get used to public questioning.
But keep quiet? That is not transparent, it is not honest, it does not strengthen or support the principles that he said he would abide by – because we are slaves to words. It is true that keeping silent is not illegal, but that does not make it moral.
It is easy to denigrate journalistic work with the misused term of “yellow press”. It is very easy to do it when I play to read what is written and I do not even assume responsibility for clarifying what the obligations demand.
The WTPA is backwards, messy, with processes and modus operandi that the president does not want to clarify. There are mistakes – and they are valid, they are part of the learning process – but there is silence and that is not valid. That is an unethical practice.
Just to say goodbye: if I questioned Alfonso Victoria – whom time made me esteem and create a good relationship – because of the public interest of what happened with Carlos Navarro a few years ago, why can´t I question WTPA president who ignores questions about the investigation carried out by a WT ad hoc commission for alleged anomalies, irregularities and potential acts of corruption in the WTPA?
Yes, that was the last: President Navarro – who was also part of the previous administration – ignored the questions about the investigations the World Taekwondo is doing through the ad hoc commission.
Wow! What transparent we are, aren´t we?