Mexico, sometimes I want to cry for you. I am not a Mexican, nor am I of Mexican descent, but having lived in Mexico for nearly 20 years I consider you to be my adopted country. I feel your pain.
I can’t speak for all the reporters here on BB, but I believe that many ot them share my pain at times. Most of us, especially those that volunteer our time here on Borderland Beat who daily read of the horrors - kidnapping, extortion, murder of entire families (including infants), young people as young as 12 or 14 becoming assassins (sicarios), are deeply affected. by those stories. The continued criminal corruption and impunity of the public officials makes us feel like we hit a brick wall emotionally.
At times it leaves us with a feeling of despair and the feeling of ineffectuality, the impotent pointlessness of this work;. We feel that our work is worthless, it's meaningless, it's nothing. We are totally ineffective. There is this sense of total helplessness.
It makes it extremely difficult to look at the "big picture" - what is happening and why.
Then something happens that renews and invigorates our spirits again.
It may be something big like the rapid development of the self defense movement which I think may be one of the biggest game changers since the Mexican Revolution. Ordinary, but very brave people, successfully organizing and confronting the criminals who had been terrorizing them for years and standing up to a government that has ignored them and their problems for decades.
Or that spark that re-ignites us may be something small. For me most recently, it was going to the plaza in el centro for stroll on Sunday evening.
For most of the time I have lived in Mexico I lived only about a half block from the plaza and went there quite often. Sometimes to just sit on a bench and read a book and "people watch" and absorb the beautiful culture that is Mexico.
Seeing a teen age girl get out of school and get in the car with her mother who had come to pick her up and lean over and kiss her mother on the cheek as a greeting. It would make me wonder how many girls in the US kissed their mother when she came to pick her up at school.
Lately I have not gone to the plaza so much for several reasons. I moved farther out in the city and it was not as convienant and also as a kind of protest because the mayor had "re-done" the plaza to make it more beautiful, taking out 20 or 30 huge trees and pouring concrete over about 80% of the plaza. It now looks like something that would be in front of a new highrise in Dallas or Houston rather than a traditional Mexican plaza.
Regardless of my belief that the plaza had lost much of its character, on Sunday evening, much to my surprise, it was crowded with families milling about and greeting each other and gossiping with friends while their kids played on the swings and slides.
But the thing that really jolted me out of the doldrums was a group of kids, ranging from kindergarden to high school that were putting on a show of traditional Mexican dance, complete with the costumes. The girls with their beautiful brightly colored flowing dresses and the boys in their sombreros and pants with the silver conchos running down the side. The 5 and 6 year olds were the stars of the show.
When I left the plaza that evening it was with a good feeling because efforts were being made to preserve and pass on some of the beautiful aspects of the Mexican culture. I could hear and feel the heart of Mexico still beating.
So what has all that to do with the reporting of the cartel wars in Mexico? For this reporter, it energized me to continue to try to look at the "big picture" of the problems of Mexico and what I can do about them.
The events of the past few weeks in Michoacan and continuing today strengthen my resolve that Borderland Beat plays an important role as a voice telling “the rest of the story” – news and opinion that are not disseminated by other media that merely parrot what the government says is the truth.
Most serious scholars (I don't claim to be one, but I agree with them) who have looked at the big picture violence and crime in Mexico conclude that two major changes are desperately needed; eliminating or at least reducing corruption thereby reducing the impunity with which criminals and corrupt public officials now act (I include the scenario playing out in Michoacan in the this).
The other radical change needed is to drastically overhaul the education system, to give the children of Mexico opportunities in life other than joining a cartel or gang.
Most of my writings and the stories I have posted (more on the Forum than here on the main page) have dealt with the corruption of corrupt public officials and the deplorable education system. This piece is a continuation of that effort to shine a light on those problems. So here we go.
Questions for the PRI Regarding Corruption and Impunity (I address this to PRI because the party and the government are one and the same in Mexico):
1) Why do you think so few high level Mexican politicians have been investigated when they were accused of corruption or ties to drug trafficking?
2) Why didn’t the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) publicize the results of the few instances it investigated high level politicians?
3) why has the federal Czar of Michoacan (Costillo) tried to split and divide the AUD who have been so successful of ridding some 30 municipalities from the oppression of the CT cartel and why did he ally himself with the AUD leader with proven ties to the leader of the Templars?
4) Why hasn’t the PGR investigated Arturo Montiel [Governor, State of Mexico, 1999-2005] for the accusations of corruption against him, as well as the kidnapping of his children in violation of the International Convention of The Hague Against the Illegal Retention of Minors? [Children were in the custody of his ex-wife, a French citizen. When she allowed them to come to Mexico to visit him, he kept them.]
5) Why hasn’t the PGR investigated Mario Marin [Governor of Puebla, 2005-2011] for the kidnapping of Lydia Cacho and her imprisonment in Puebla, after an illegal transport he ordered? [In 2006, Kamel Nacif Borge, a businessman, and Mario Marín were exposed discussing the jailing of journalist Lydia Cacho after she accused Nacif of pedophilia in her book los Demonios del Éden.]
6) In the last 20 years, why has there not been a single public official (neither civil or military) been tried, convicted and punished for the crime of torture when we all know it is a common practice?
7) Why hasn’t the PGR investigated Humberto Moreira for illicit enrichment and the way he got his state in debt when he was governor [of Coahuila, 2005-2011]?
8) Why hasn’t the PGR investigated Carlos Romero Deschamps for illicit enrichment while leading the Pemex oil workers union?
9) Why do you think high level PRI politicians have not been investigated by the PGR?
10) Why do you think 98% of all crimes in Mexico are never solved?
11) One of the few cases where a high level Mexican politician was investigated was Raul Salinas de Gortari, [brother of former President Carlos Salinas, 1988-94] who was recently exonerated. Why do you think the PRI selectively tolerates and even encourages an attitude of impunity?
12.) Do you think a PGR investigation, which was never made public, is enough to exonerate a politician [Beltrones] accused of protecting drug dealers, even though the accusations are based on more than 20 DEA documents? (In 1994, incoming Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo requested that the United States provide his administration with the names of Mexican officials suspected of corruption who should not be considered for positions in the new administration. The United States indicated that Beltrones was suspected of using his power as governor of Sonora to protect drug lords. In 2011 he was leading in all the polls as a potential Presidential candidate until he announced without explanation that he was not going to run – clearing the way for EPN)
13) Do you think Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam, who was appointed by Enrique Peña Nieto and could be fired by him at any moment, will ever investigate a high level PRI politician?
14) What do you think about the recurrent PRI tactic of intimidating and/or eliminating its critics instead of fixing the reason behind the criticism?
15) Is Carlos Salinas pulling the strings behind the scenes in the EPN administration?
There are hundreds of other questions about corruption that need to be looked at and have a light shined on them, but we can only do so much.
$35,780,880,000 pesos [US$2.7 billion] Education Money Wasted Every Year.
Years ago, Mexicanos Primero brought up a simple question: How many teachers are there in Mexico, and how many actually teach in a face-to-face classroom setting? No one could answer this question. Suspicions with respect to a massive scam in the educational budget arose.
Finally, responding to the pressure of citizen campaigns like “End the abuse!” at the end of 2012, President Peña Nieto had the good sense to arrange for the realization of the Census of Schools, Teachers and Students of Basic [elementary and middle school] and Special Education. The work was entrusted to the professionalism of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI).
He was applaud then for making the census happen; he is not being applauded now for what it reveals. It is a national shame:
39,222 people supposedly assigned to a school in which no one actually knows them ("aviators");
30,695 people who claim to be teachers, but who in reality work for the SNTE [National Union of Education Workers] or the CNTE [National Coordinating Committee of Education Workers—a dissident teachers group];
113,259 people who claim to be in a school, but who are located “in another place of work” (fugitives); and
114,998 people who receive pay as active teachers, but who do it in the name of people who have already retired or passed away.
In all, 298,174 people are paid with educational funds from schools in which they do not work.
It is a fact that schools and teachers from Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero, the three states with the most corrupt and backwards systems, were not included in the census. They refused to participate. Why would this be?
In any case, the census reveals that almost 300,000 people live on the educational budget, but do not serve education. This backs the saying that the national sport isn’t soccer: “It’s living on the budget!” What shame, what disorder, what corruption!
The Professional Teacher’s Service Law is very clear: no one who is not fulfilling a teaching job has the right to receive the salary of a teacher.
A conservative estimate of the cost: 10,000 pesos [US$770] of monthly salary x 12 months x 298,174 people = 35,780,880,000 pesos [US$2.7 billion.
35 billion pesos! Every year!
With that money one could grant, each year, 3,838,000 Opportunity grants [grants provided to poor families to keep their children in school] or rehabilitate 35,780 schools.
Scandals like that of Oceanografía [a company providing ships to Pemex state oil company, under investigation for fraud] and Line 12 of Mexico City’s subway [new line shut down due to serious malfunctions] pale in comparison to these statistics.
Beyond the scandalous statistics, what’s shameful is the magnitude of the complicity of hundreds of thousands of people enabling this fraud. It is shameful also to admit that this fraud is taking place in the national educational system.
What an example we’re setting for our children!
How is it possible that we've allowed this to happen? Now that we know the size of the problem, the important thing is to act. Revealing is not the same as resolving.
It is up to the Secretariat of the Treasury (SHCP) and the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) to put an end to this robbery against public education and the future of our country. The critical date is the first of January of 2015, because after that date the federal government will be in charge of teachers' payroll [federal funds currently managed by each state].
The federal legislators also have a responsibility, because they are the ones who approve the educational budget year after year. They shouldn’t approve it if it doesn’t present a reliable and trustworthy educational payroll.
What to say to the auditors? They should open their eyes and do their job.
Citizens, must demand and ensure that the wasteful spending ends. If such embezzlement doesn't move us to action, then nothing will. At www.finalabuso.org you can sign to demand that the money that is now being wasted be used for loans, for training our real teachers and to improve educational infrastructure.
The corruption in Mexico has been viral; now let’s hope that a citizen movement for combating the corruption will go viral.
Some of my sources;