The Expert Take | Where is Mexico’s Fight Against Corruption Now?

expert I (2)By Viridiana Rios

The deadliest earthquake since 1985 hit Mexico last week, the second significant earthquake in 2017. With at least 225 victims, the parallels between last week’s earthquake and 1985’s are spine chilling. Both happened on the same day of the year, September 19th, and both have awoken a powerful civilian mobilization to rescue victims from collapsed buildings.

Back in 1985, corruption and violations of the city’s building codes were attributed much of the destruction. Today, an excellent piece by Animal Político has proven that the state of Oaxaca was hit the hardest during the first earthquake of 2017 due to corruption and poor use of tax-payer resources. The entire seismic warning system of Oaxaca had not been operating since January due to the state government’s debts to the service provider. The alerts were either stored in warehouses, or were sold online by private parties. In Mexico City, out of the 7,356 seismic alerts that the city’s government had bought, about 46 percent were never installed and had simply disappeared.

In the face of these events, corruption becomes a humanitarian crisis, rather than just a judicial issue.

Mexico’s organized civil society knows this and, as a result, has recently embraced a vibrant and ambitious agenda to improve the corrupt system. Lawyers have joined efforts with activists to propose to Congress the necessary laws and institutions to effectively prosecute corruption acts and to watch over the legislation’s implementation.

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

9/18/2017 Americas Quarterly

More than a year after a major civil society victory, Mexico’s government has yet to clean up its act.

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.

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Suing Journalists in Mexico

09/12/16 The New York Times

4812475037_92affe984e_o.jpgThis summer, responding to public outrage over a spate of government corruption scandals, Mexican lawmakers passed a strong anticorruption law that requires public officials to be more transparent about their finances. Whether that will help end Mexico’s culture of cronyism and graft will depend largely on journalists being able to investigate and report about the ruling class.

A recent flurry of specious lawsuits filed against journalists — and a troubling court decision in May that lifted monetary caps on libel damages — are having a chilling effect on investigative reporting and criticism.

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Mexico’s Supreme Court Overturns State Anti-Corruption Laws

09/05/16 ABC News

120px-Law_gavelMexico’s Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional two state anti-corruption laws that outgoing governors passed in apparent attempts to shield themselves from investigation.

Many Mexicans were outraged when the governors of the states of Veracruz and Chihuahua pushed through the laws just months before they are to leave office giving them the power to name anti-corruption prosecutors.

The federal Attorney General’s Office appealed the laws, arguing they violated new federal anti-corruption standards. It said the appeals were meant to show “there is no room for tailor-made local laws.”

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Mexico Institute Materials on Anti-Corruption Efforts

Security and the Rule of LawOn Monday, as President Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law a new anti-corruption system, he apologized for a damaging conflict of interest scandal in 2014 surrounding his wife’s purchase of a $7m luxury home from a government contractor, an episode that hurt the Mexican people’s faith in the presidency and the government. “For this reason, with all humility I ask your forgiveness,” he said. “I reiterate my sincere and profound apology for the offense and indignation I have caused you.”

In light of the ratification of the anti-corruption reform, I would like to share with you our recent work on anti-corruption efforts in Mexico.

Sincerely,

Duncan Wood
Director, Mexico Institute

Anti-Corruption

Mexico Wins: Anti-Corruption Reform Approved

Fighting Corruption in Mexico

Mexico Today: Analyzing the Country’s Reforms

Mexico’s Reforms and the Prospects for Growth

Mexican Civil Society’s Battle against Corruption: #Ley3de3

Mexico: The Fight Against Corruption

How to Make Mexico More Competitive: More Corporate Ethics & State Efficiency, Less Corruption

Mexico’s Battle Against Corruption

Mexico Corruption Perception Index 2015

Corruption, A Central Issue in the Campaigns

The Mexican State and Anti-Corruption Efforts

Additionally, check out our recent work on rule of law in Mexico.

The Problem of Power: Mexico Requires a New System of Government

Book Launch | The Problem of Power: Mexico Requires a New System of Government

Mexico and the United States: Combating Illicit Finance Together

Mexico Security Review 2016: Assessing the Outlook for the Rule of Law

A Mexican Utopia: Book Launch & Discussion of the Rule of Law in Mexico

A Mexican Utopia: The Rule of Law is Possible

A Way to Restore Mexico’s Trust Deficit

Four Rule of Law Policies to Make Mexico Grow

The Mexican State and Transparency

The State of Citizen Security in Mexico: 2014 in Review and the Year Ahead

Mexico’s president apologizes for wife’s purchase of home from contractor

07/18/16 The Guardian 

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto and first lady Angelica Rivera salute during the military parade celebrating Independence Day at the Zocalo square in downtown Mexico CityMexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto has apologized for a damaging conflict of interest scandal in 2014 surrounding his wife’s purchase of a $7m luxury home from a government contractor.

Peña Nieto made what was an unusually frank apology for a Mexican leader over the scandal as he signed into law a new anti-corruption system that the government hopes will boost its credibility in the run-up to the 2018 presidential elections.

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