Every place follows its own unique path of development. Up until the 1980s, New York – and Philly, Chicago, Providence, New Orleans and many other American cities – were still bastions of graft. Not a day went by without a news flash of a crooked assemblyman or corrupt judge. Streets in Harlem still burned back then, and Central Park was off-limits after dark. Many of NY’s Finest had their hands dirty.
These “organized premeditated efforts” to abuse public authority for personal benefit continue today, but not like in their heyday. Laws now give prosecutors “teeth” to go after corrupt acts committed by public servants – including police and judges.
In contrast, many Mexican states still don’t have laws that define patronage, bribery, nepotism and influence peddling. In Coahuila, Durango, Guerrero and many other states, impunity is built-in, as prosecutors lack the means to go after crooked politicians and judges. As a result, Mexican governors have been kings of their respective perches, given wide latitude if not unchecked power.
Things are only now starting to change.
A coalition of civic, legal and business groups – led by the Mexican Business Owners’ Confederation (“COPARMEX“) – recently announced a campaign to help the nation’s 32 states implement the newly-enacted federal Anti-Corruption System. The program, designed to promote greater transparency and accountability, consists of three parts:
1. MODEL LAWS. A Model Anti-Corruption Law was drafted to “harmonize” state law with the spirit if not the letter of the Federal Anti-Corruption System;
2. ENFORCEMENT RESOURCES. Drafts of new regulations (currently in progress) to ensure that adequate resources are allocated to help implement the new system;
3. DIGITAL PLATFORMS. Development of registries for real property, businesses and motor vehicles to facilitate the investigation of corrupt acts.
“Our goal is to help implement anti-corruption measures in every state”, said Gustavo de Hoyos, director of COPARMEX, at a recent press conference.
Working with hundreds of organizations, COPARMEX plans to promote the program in its state-run Business Centers. These organizations include:
⦁ Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad (IMCO)
⦁ Transparencia Mexicana
⦁ El Ilustre Colegio de Abogados
⦁ Barra Mexicana de Abogados
⦁ National Association of Corporate Lawyers (ANADE)
⦁ Mexicanos contra la Corrupción
Given the long-standing role corruption has played in Mexican politics, major battles are still ahead. We can only wish these organizations the best of luck.