Official Corruption Weighing Down Mexican Society

AZ Daily Star, December 24, 2014 | Go to article overview

Official Corruption Weighing Down Mexican Society


The following editorial appears on Bloomberg View:

With a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a spot on one of those ubiquitous lists of "leading global thinkers," Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray is just the kind of technocrat to bring the country the radical economic reform it needs.

He's also financially entangled with a businessman who does hundreds of millions of dollars in business with the government.

Sadly, he isn't an anomaly. Mexico's ruling caste is seriously and systematically compromised by shady dealings. It's part of a wider failure of governance -- exemplifying the kind of corruption that's inciting more and more Mexicans to protest indifferent public institutions, police who kill rather than protect, and clubby technocrats who pursue economic reforms but put themselves above the rules.

Proposals to address the problem have stalled. They need to be revived. Otherwise, Mexico's political stability and efforts to modernize its economy are at risk.

Videgaray bought a luxury home from Juan Armando Hinojosa, a builder with close ties to the minister and to President Enrique Pena Nieto. Hinojosa, whose companies rely on government contracts, helped finance the purchase as well. News of the arrangement followed revelations that Pena Nieto's wife had also bought a $7 million mansion on credit from Hinojosa. In the ensuing uproar, the government canceled a $3.7 billion high-speed-train contract awarded to a consortium that included the builder.

Even as Mexico's economy has opened up, its score on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index has barely changed, and its ranking lags behind that of many other Latin American nations. In 2013, more than 90 percent of Mexicans said that corruption either grew or stayed the same over the last two years.

No major Mexican politician has ever been convicted of corruption. Charges against "Mr. 10 Percent" -- the nickname given to Raul Salinas, brother of ex-president Carlos Salinas -- have just been dropped, after the case had dragged on for two decades. …

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