Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Ethics of Corruption

RioDoce (May 5, 2013)

Federico Campbell

Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat


Translator's note: Mexico's narco problems are impossible to analyze without taking into consideration the roles that corruption and impunity play in its political, legal and law enforcement institutions. I realize this column is not directly related to the war against drugs, but I hope it gives Borderland Beat readers a glimpse into the context in which the war is being fought. -- un vato  


Some years ago in Russia, in the former USSR, the Soviet State was very worried about growing alcoholism among it workers. Brezhnev and his government companion -- I don't remember his name, but they used to work as partners, like policemen-- held a meeting to deal with the problem and they decided -- on the advice of publicists and experts -- to place huge  billboards at the factory gates. And a single phrase: DRINK BEER.

They asked workers to reduce the level of alcohol, to reduce their consumption of vodka and not drink it every night, to drink beer. This request was not lacking in cunning. The leaders knew their people. They knew the Russian soul.

Extrapolating from that scenario and that realistic example of governing, it might be reasonable for Mexico to do something like that with the deep-seated problem of corruption and its structural cause: impunity. Tone it down. Don't steal so much. Steal half as much.

For example, if the untouchable and fire proof Humberto Moreira defrauded the State of Coahuila (by falsifying records of state congressional proceedings to obtain authorization for several bank loans through Cordero's Revenue Department) of 32 billion pesos (about $256 million), well, man, he could have done this for only 16 billion pesos, part of which could have, in any case, been enough to fund Pena Nieto's campaign very well.

In Mexico, practically and tacitly, corruption is permitted. It is almost impossible for anybody to go to jail for unlawful appropriation of  public resources. A governor from Sinaloa used to say that the least amount a governorship will leave, even if his state is very small and poor, such as Tlaxcala, is about $100 million dollars. Another former governor, from Morelos, used to say that it was impossible not to become corrupted when they would place a tray full of bills by your desk. That it is very easy in Mexico to use a government position to steal. Everything is designed for it to be that way. Neither the purchasing officers nor the administrative secretaries hesitate to inflate costs and negotiate with providers under the table. To this day there are no controls to tie their hands or dissuade them with the threat that they will end up in jail. At most, they scare them with the dead man's shroud of "disqualification" (from government employment) and they die laughing. Carlos Salinas stuck his hand as he pleased into the pockets of secret accounts. His brother and a so-called Fausto Ceja would take suitcases full of cash to deposit at CityBank. Well, they could have deposited only half and returned the rest.

The PRI's is a well-oiled system for looting. In fact, in the Chamber of Deputies they have to account for no more than 30% of the annual 800 million peso (about $65 million) expense budget, that the chimpanzees distribute as they please. It is not impossible that 40% of the annual federal budget is lost through embezzlement of public funds. Out of a billion pesos, some 400 million go into bank accounts, houses, ranches, buildings, political campaigns. Public officials have a weakness for land, condominiums, housing developments, in short, real estate. It's how they save money. So then, tone it down. Control yourselves. Don't be such sons of bitches. Drink beer, not whiskey.,            


  1. Haha stupid artical doesn't really make sense but governer that steals doesn't love his country and should get the death penalty

  2. You all should check out El Infierno on netflix, it gives you a little taste of the Mexican life.

  3. At first the article was confusing but then it makes sense...
    its just like the old days where cartels were only into drug trafficking. No extortion. no kidnappings. no killings. just simply drug traffic and staying under the radar.

  4. This culturally ingrained corruption and the impunity from consequences has poisoned Mexico's soul to the core.

    I doubt that Mexico can be fixed in any substantive way even given 20 years.

    The narco-cartels along with politicians and the courts, police, Church, business, health, education, Pemex, utilities,the media, and lowly taco-vendor "practice" corruption as naturally as breathing.

    Truthfully, I do not see any changes in the right direction coming .... there is nothing on the horizon... especially, now that the USA is also decaying in regard too.


  5. The biggest difference bw the populace of Mexico and The USA is that the former knows that corruption is widespread and common while the majority of the latter thinks corruption occurs not in the USA but in places like Mexico.

    1. Which is why millions of people run from Mexico into the US, every year, to get jobs right? If it is the same then why so many Mexicans in the US? Mexico is so corrupt the common man can't fucking make it; in the US, at least there is work to survive. Talk backwards all you want, it doesn't compare, and you still sound dumb.

    2. Excellent point. The less educated and informed any society is, the more blatant the corruption - rather its Mexico or any other country. As Mexico's middle class grows and the populous becomes more educated (as it has over the last 15 years and continues to) corruption will be less blatant and become more sophisticated, as it is in the US . Instead of narcos buying real estate and delivering envelopes to politicians; the corruption will be just as prevalent but it will be conducted through lobbyist and corporations just as the makers of aderoll, Vicodin, and all the other opiates that are legally peddled throughout the US do today. US narcos (pharma CEOs) wear suits and dine openly with politicians, but in Mexico narcos still wear jeans and dine with politicians behind closed doors. This is changing though - it's the sophisticated evolution of corruption.

  6. this shit happen in USA to, i want to see a map of USA talking about gangs

    1. No kidding - it's amazing how many Americans are living in a bubble and throwing stones when they live in the same glass houses as Los Mexicanos.

  7. Let them enjoy their loot here on Earth, because they will go to hell with empty pockets and no shoes. ROT IN HELL, SOBs!!!!


    Thats to much huh, chivis also joel torres died right? Cause i saw a pic of hia grave ..idk if its the sameone.


  9. Un vata. Excellent article. Great comparison. It's astonishing the amount of money these guys make and then leave their families. The greed and corruption pisses me off. Off topic for a second, my son has worked in Russia and ex-Russian countries. The major problem now is HIV-AIDS. Serbia is now classified as the number one country for these diseases. The alcohol addiction is a direct result of the populous having the disease. Thanks for the story. Peace,Texas Grandma.

  10. hmm, trayfuls of bills, can anyone run for office in mexico, say like an american?? wow what one could do with trays of cash every now and again. maybe that land rover defender that i have had my eye on, and maybe i could get a ranch with plenty of trails to drive it on.. i'd be tough on enviornmental criminals

  11. Interesting comparison between alcoholism in Soviet Union and corruption in Mexico.


  12. May 20, 2013 at 7:47 PM
    "while the majority of the latter thinks corruption occurs not in the USA but in places like Mexico"
    Well,to believe your statement,we would have to be as stupid as you"the majority of people in the US don't think corruption exists"yup,pretty stupid.
    Corruption is everywhere,,,in varying degrees?

  13. Corruption is the legacy the dinosaurs of the PRI membership has viven México. The party that controls the government institutions has carte- blanche on how things are done. For the last 72 of the last 84yrs that has been the RIP, for its initials in English. Maybe with less dominance in the legislative branch and at the state government level. Many a corrupt politician in México have enriched themselves through the awarding of government contracts to their companies or one of their families or friends; furthermore, a few families/individuales hold monopolies over Mexicos' industries. All this while millions of its citizens languished in poverty, low paying jobs, and lack of education. If you did'nt like they were done you had to options: migration to the U.S.A., or get killed trying to protest the PRI apparatus. Many chose the former as evidence of the 35 million Mexican descendants, immigrants, and countless undocumented immigrants.

  14. DD, Forum adminstratorMay 22, 2013 at 5:52 AM

    un vato; you said the story was
    "not directly related to the war against drugs" and seemed a little apologetic for posting it.
    I disagree that it is not "directly related" to the war on drugs. It is at the heart of the war. Corruption of public officials results in impunity, impunity (the lack of fear of punishment) leads to lawlessness, lawlessness leads to a breakdown of society.
    But it is so embedded in the culture of Mexico that the federal penal code does not call it bribery and corruption, it is "unjust enrichment". That sounds a lot better.
    When a high official (in charge of contracts) in the CFE (the national electric utility) was arrested at the airport with his bags packed (presumably with cash) and ready to board a flight out of the country he was released because a federal judge in another part of the country had issued an injunction against his arrest. When Calderon publicly stated "we build a good case and they (the judiciary) turns them loose", the federal judiciary council, which oversees federal judges, took the unusual step of responding to Calderon that the CFE official was only charged with "unjust enrichment" and that was not a serious crime. It went on to say that it was Calderon who was a threat to the constitution and the country because such comments "undermined the judiciary".
    But the real problem is not changing the laws to make "unjust enrichment" a serious crime, it is how to change the cultural acceptance of bribery as the normal course of business, not just in government but in the private sector as well.
    I know of a personal example of when a maquiladora was negotiating for the purchase of 20 acres of prime commercial real estate to build a plant, the seller told the buyers representative (the number 2 man in the maquiladora company), "okay, this is my best price, how much do I add to it for you". That is just how it is done in Mexico. How do you change that?
    I would like to see more stories like this.
    Oh, and to anon that said this was a legacy of PRI, it goes back much farther than that. When Spain ruled Mexico for 300 years, if you wanted to do business, you paid the Gov. or Viceroy or whoever was the rep. of the crown. After independence from Spain, you paid the government. After the revolution and the formation of the predecessors of PRI, you paid PRI instead of the crown or the government. Over 70 years PRI refined the system into a well oiled machine. But now all the parties in power use it. Like I said, how do you change something that has embedded in the culture for 400 years.

  15. Also DD, if it were'nt for that legacy of corruption of which the dictator Santa Ana(government?)was a part of, Mexico would still have all the territory it lost to the U.S.A. Mexico did not lose no wars to the U.S., Santa Ana sold Mexico out; furthermore, if it weren't for three U.S. senate votes, Santa Ana would have sold to the U.S. Mexico's border states and Baja California Sur. Instead they just bought the Gadsden Purchase(southern Arizona). We would be talking about Mexico being the Brazil of North America. All of the European migration that would have headed towards to what is now the U.S. southwest would have spoken Spanish, just like Brazil's European descendants/immigrants speak Portuguese. Instead you have the Bolivia of North America with cartel violence. No disrespect to Bolivians. Even at that, Mexico is more than 5 times bigger than Japan with way more resources. Japan is the third economy of the world, and until recently was the second economy for the longest time. i y que viva México senores! Greetings from the Coastal
    Bend from a proud Texican Mexican All-American! Saludos desde la Costa Doblada de un orgulloso Texicano Mexicano todo Americano

  16. The Brazil of North America? Are you kidding, if Mexico still had the Southwest US, it would just be that much bigger, but just as corrupt and backwards. Corruption exists in all societies; however, its the quality of the institutions that ameliorate its effects. Weak governmental institutions that operate for the benefit of the powers that be, breed corruption. If you are proud of something, be proud of the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta.


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