Enrique Peña Nieto left out of his written report and the speech he delivered everything that could disfigure the upbeat and motivational tone. Does it matter that the issue of corruption was cast aside into the corners of his speech?
Corruption has long been absent from presidential messages. There are customs that don't change. The efficiency and tidiness of the wonderful central courtyard of the National Palace served as the framework for the traditional festival of hugs, smiles and mini-dialogues of those tying up deals and going around promising more breakfasts, lunches or dinners than they can humanly fulfill. From time to time, some human whirlwind warned that, by a certain corridor, some powerful person of the moment was going to pass.
The president opted for an overly long speech that returned us to the past. He praised the achievements, applauded his own people and confronted skeptics with a cascade of numbers. With a coup of statistics, he wanted to show that Mexico is moving at the rate he imposes. Not everyone was impressed-and there were many times when hands were armed with smart phones-as with the announcement of the new International Airport for Mexico City, which garnered a standing ovation and two moments of applause in one hundred seconds.
Enrique Peña Nieto reiterated that Mexico is moving. He's right, although some of the slides are directed toward the world of the dark forces that were methodically excluded from the presidential analysis. This is the case with corruption. In his message of an hour and a half he only said that there will be a prosecutor for that issue within the PGR [Attorney General's Office] and in the Report, he gave a few figures. For example, it says that between October 2013 and June 2014, the federal government recovered 3.074 million pesos [US$235,000] stolen by officials. The amount, however important, is irrelevant if one realizes that it is 0.2% of the cost of corruption each year.
In 2012, the Center for Economic Studies of the Private Sector put the monetary value of corruption at 1.5 trillion pesos per year [US$115 billion] or 10% of GDP. At that time, the president of the Business Coordinating Council, Gerardo Gutierrez Candiani, listed the negative consequences that this has for economic activity, and in June of this year he pressed the issue and called for a "National Commitment to Zero Tolerance for Corruption and Impunity" in which government and society should participate.
As corruption becomes more visible and ostentatious, irritation grows because we all have stories about the harmful effects of this social cancer on daily life. Every day the media offer us generous portions of robberies committed by officials and businessmen who continue taking their impunity for granted. It is only natural that, when we look at the public opinion surveys, we find that one of the reasons for the majority's dissatisfaction is corruption.
How can we not be outraged when, according to information obtained by the dedicated parents of 49 children killed in the ABC Daycare Center in Sonora, released this week in a report by Indigo, the fire was ordered by state officials in order to destroy evidence of diversion of resources? How not to get frustrated by the cynicism with which practitioners of the art of the kickback behave? How not to be discouraged by the impunity granted to Cuauhtemoc Gutierrez[accused of running a prostitution ring from PRI's Mexico City offices] by the counselors of IEDF [Electoral Institute of the Federal District (Mexico City), who said they couldn't find sufficient evidence of misuse of government supplied funds] who want to jump to a similar position?
Despite such evidence, the President chose to cast aside the issue of corruption. The explanation could be that the Atlacomulco Group [hometown of Peña Nieto and many PRI politicians], which he currently heads, has forged its own version of the old culture of the Spanish noblemen who considered it tacky to talk about money. For whatever reason, Peña Nieto has decided to exclude corruption from his priorites. It is the same indifference shown by Jose Lopez Portillo [President, 1976-82], Miguel de la Madrid [President, 1982-88] and Carlos Salinas [President, 1988-94], who were condemned by the only court that functions: that of public opinion. Will history repeat itself?