How Mexico’s Anti-Corruption Fight Went Off-Track

09/18/2017 Americas Quarterly

By Viridiana Rios, Mexico Institute Global Fellow

Eighteen months ago, I wrote in AQ about the success of Mexico’s citizen-driven corruption fight in Congress. Civil society groups, academics and activists had pushed for the rejection of a watered-down anti-corruption bill and instead presented their own, sharpened version of the legislation. This citizen’s bill, called #Ley3de3 (or #Law3of3) promised not only to help identify, punish and prevent corruption, but to do so while promoting collaboration among different federal institutions and citizen groups.

Congress agreed to discuss the bill only after 634,000 citizens signed their support, and approved it only after trying several times to reduce its scope. Passage of the #Ley3de3 thus marked one of the most important breakthroughs for Mexico’s civil society since democratization began in the late nineties.

All of us who were part of this effort knew that it was a first step, but were sure that many more would follow. Little did we know how resistant to outside pressure – from civil society, the media and others – the government would prove to be when it came to cleaning up its act.

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Mexican presidential hopeful Lopez Obrador says he would revise oil contracts

09/05/2017 Reuters

Andres_manuel_lopez_obrador_oct05MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – If elected, Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will review oil contracts signed after historic reforms in the sector, the leftist politician said on Tuesday.

The 63-year-old leads various polls ahead of next year’s presidential election, and opponents looking to keep him out of office denounce him as a populist who would seek to emulate Venezuela’s socialist government.

Mexico opened up its energy sector with sweeping reforms in 2013 and 2014 to give investors the chance to participate in oil exploration and extraction.

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Former Venezuelan prosecutor meets Mexican attorney general

08/31/2017 Reuters

Source: Cristóbal Alvarado Minic/Flickr

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Venezuela’s former chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega met Mexico’s attorney general on Thursday, a Mexican official said, weeks after she fled her homeland accusing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of involvement in corruption.

Ortega, who was removed from her position earlier this month, said a week ago she had evidence that Maduro was involved in graft with construction company Odebrecht.

The 59-year-old Ortega has said she would give details of the corruption cases to authorities in the United States, Spain, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.

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Mexican president likens leftist rival to Venezuela’s Maduro

08/31/2017 Reuters

pena nieto wefMEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto likened the front-runner for next year’s presidential election to Venezuelan leftist leaders in an interview published on Thursday, suggesting the opposition candidate could unleash economic chaos if he wins office.

Former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has led early opinion polls for the 2018 election. Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) earlier this year sought to brand Lopez Obrador’s MORENA party an ally of Venezuela after the Venezuelan Embassy suggested it had MORENA’s backing.

In an interview with newspaper Excelsior, Pena Nieto said the rhetoric of Lopez Obrador was “not too far, nor too different from” that of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

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In a Mexico ‘Tired of Violence,’ Zapatista Rebels Venture Into Politics

8/26/2017 The New York Times 

The Zapatistas, the most powerful political rebels in Mexico in nearly 100 years, are renouncing armed revolution, after decades of opposing the government, for a simple reason: Mexico is so riddled with violence, they say, that the country cannot handle any more of it.

The decision is a searing commentary on the state of Mexico today, analysts say. The rebels have not reached a peace deal with the government, nor won their longstanding push for indigenous rights. But killings in Mexico are rising so quickly that even a movement rooted in armed struggle feels compelled to back away from violence.

“This shows the extent to which Mexicans are tired of violence,” said Jesús Silva-Herzog, a political-science professor at the School of Government at Tecnológico de Monterrey. “Political radicalism today has to be pacifist because the public, social and economic life in Mexico has been stained with blood for far too long.”

Subcommander Marcos, the rebel leader who became a global phenomenon in 1994 when the Zapatistas stormed into towns in the state of Chiapas, stood on stage for a brief moment a few months ago, hidden behind a throng of fighters, youngsters with piercings and indigenous followers in hand-stitched blouses.

After a few rounds of applause, photographs and revolutionary chants, he quietly walked off the stage, a stark departure from the fiery speeches on inequality and armed revolution that once drew him international attention and willing recruits.

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A Message from the Director: Announcing our 2018 Mexico Elections Guide


Every six years, Mexicans go to the polls to pick a new President and a new Congress. The country’s democratic transition, though still far from complete, has made impressive strides since the 1980s, and competitive elections and political alternation have become institutions firmly embedded in political culture. Elections give voters the opportunity to choose the individuals and the party that will rule Mexico for the next six years, and since 1997, those voters have shown a deep dissatisfaction with incumbents. During this period, the country experienced a shift from PRI-ista hegemony to divided government in 1997, to successive PAN presidential victories, the second of which was heavily disputed and then, in 2012, a return to PRI control of the presidency and the Congress. Mexicans exercise their democratic rights on a regular basis, and they do so effectively. Though the democratic system is far from perfect, elections matter in Mexico. They are relatively free and fair, determine outcomes, and allow the citizenry to express both their discontent and their preferences.

It thus gives us great pleasure to introduce The Mexico Institute’s 2018 Elections Guide. Since 2012, the Mexico Institute has provided comprehensive coverage of Mexico’s presidential and congressional elections, by curating news articles and opinion polls online, and by soliciting and publishing unique content from our extensive network of analysts and experts. This archived material will now be joined by our coverage of the July 2018 election: we will provide information and analysis of the campaigns and the personalities that will compete to rule Mexico for the next six years. Over the next 11 months, we will track the parties and candidates, as well as the most important issues, domestic and foreign, which will determine voter preferences.

In addition to the content posted on this blog, the Mexico Institute hopes to host the leading candidates as they lay out their ideas and policies. These events will be presented live online as webcasts and will be archived for future reference. We intend to live up to our commitment to non-partisanship and public education by ensuring that all candidates and parties engage in robust dialogue with our audience. To further this, we will be asking you to inform our work with your questions and concerns.

Thank you for following this blog and for supporting our work. The vote that will take place on Sunday, July 1, 2018 presents Mexico with divergent visions of the future, and our staff and experts will provide detailed and impartial information and analysis to help steer you through what promises to be a complex and keenly contested election.

We hope you enjoy the new resource.


Duncan Wood

Visit the Mexico Institute’s 2018 Elections Guide

Ex-Pemex CEO denies funneling Odebrecht bribes to Pena Nieto campaign

08/17/2017 Reuters

corruptionMEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Emilio Lozoya, the former head of Mexican oil firm Pemex, on Thursday denied he was involved in shifting cash to President Enrique Pena Nieto’s campaign, saying bank accounts where millions of dollars were allegedly deposited were not his.

In a nearly hour-long news conference after appearing at the attorney general’s office in Mexico City, Pena Nieto ally Lozoya rejected claims published by Brazil’s O Globo newspaper that he had taken $10 million in bribes in 2012 from a former executive at Odebrecht SA, Latin America’s biggest construction firm, in return for a refinery contract.

Odebrecht is involved in a sprawling corruption saga in which has already paid $3.5 billion in settlements in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland, embroiling politicians across Latin America.

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