Mexico Falls Several Slots in Global-Corruption Index for 2009
Mexico's reputation as a corrupt country worsened with the release of the Transparency International (TI) 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) in mid-November. The index ranked Mexico as the 89th most corrupt country on the list of 180 countries, a decline of 17 spots from the 2008 index, when Mexico was ranked at 72. There are other areas where Mexico's reputation has suffered as well. In early December, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which is affiliated with the Organization of American States (OAS), said Mexico ranked first in 2009 among countries in the hemisphere in complaints about human rights violations. The report from the commission comes as a sister organization, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica, deliberates whether the Mexican government bares responsibility in at least some of the murders of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juarez since 1993.
Anti-drug effort exposes corruption
The TI index, based on 13 separate expert and business surveys during the past year, gave Mexico a rating of 3.3 for 2009, compared with 3.6 in 2008. A rating of zero on the scale indicates high levels of corruption and 10 very low levels. The organization arrives at the rating with a formula using data provided by the various surveys. One of the main factors considered is the frequency and/or size of bribes in the public and political sectors.
Political observers generally agree that Mexico's slide in the rating is associated in part with increased attention to drug-related corruption by elected leaders and law-enforcement officials (see SourceMex, 2009-05-07, 2009-08-19, and 2009-10-07).
In a statement regarding the results in Mexico, TI said the trends in the past year "demonstrate a serious problem of corruption."
The TI report pointed to other structural problems in Mexico, such as the weakness of government institutions and the lack of a national policy to combat corruption. Critics say Mexico has failed to follow up on an effort initiated during the administration of ex-President Vicente Fox to address corruption. "Between 2000 and 2003, Mexico placed a high emphasis on transparency, which is an efficient tool against corruption," said Eduardo Bohorquez, director of Transparencia Mexicana, TI's Mexican affiliate. "We have not moved to the second phase, which is an effective accountability and a coordination of national with local laws."
Compared with the rest of Latin America, Mexico's level of corruption was on par with countries like Guatemala, Peru, and Colombia, but far below countries like Chile, Uruguay, and Costa Rica. Those countries had a rating of 5 or higher. The highest-rated country in the hemisphere was Canada at 8.7, followed by the US with a rating of 7.5. Globally, the least-corrupt countries were Singapore, Denmark, and New Zealand, while the highest level of corruption was found in Somalia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Sudan.
TI president Huguette Labelle said countries can control the growth of corruption by strengthening their legislative and judicial branches, promoting strong and independent auditing agencies, and devoting adequate resources to combating illegal activities.
Members of Congress urged President Felipe Calderon's administration to take the conclusions seriously. Sen. Manlio Fabio Beltrones, floor leader of the opposition Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) in the upper house, prompted the administration to take the necessary actions to reverse the situation. "[The TI report] is an important and serious alert for our country," said Beltrones.
Other observers said changes can only take place with a transformation of values in Mexico. "Corruption will only subside in Mexico on the day when Mexicans, starting with elected leaders, change their convictions and place a higher emphasis on respect for the law," wrote columnist Leo Zuckermann in the Mexico City daily newspaper Excelsior. …