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Corruption in Mexico

Author: Shannon K. O'Neil, Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies and Director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Program
July 18, 2013
Huffington Post


To read Mexico's papers recently has been a study in corruption. The exposés involve every political party and level of government. Governors -- including those from the states of Tabasco, Coahuila, Aguascalientes, Tamaulipas, Baja California Sur, Chiapas, and Quintana Roo -- have been some of the most covered offenders, with allegations involving missing public funds (reaching the hundreds of millions of dollars), collaboration with drug traffickers, murder, and money laundering. Public figures once considered untouchable, such as the former head of Mexico's Teachers Union, Elba Esther Gordillo, were publicly pilloried (as well as arrested).

Corruption in Mexico is of course nothing new, but it is hard to remember a time when there were so many cases unveiled in such close temporal proximity. The influx has led many casual observers to bemoan an increase in corruption, and indeed Mexico's perceived corruption ranking by Transparency International fell from 57 in 2002 to 105 in 2012). But look beyond the headlines, and it would be hard to argue that Mexico is that much more corrupt today than in decades past. The more likely explanation is that what has changed is Mexico's ability to expose bad behavior.

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