Mexico’s New Anticorruption Tools
President Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law long-awaited rules to step up Mexico’s fight against corruption. He had to veto an earlier version that would have forced private firms that receive government money to reveal their income and assets. The new measures mandate that all public servants disclose their assets, income, and tax returns. They also set up an independent prosecutor’s office and up the punishments for bribery, embezzlement, and influence peddling. While some civil society groups had hoped for more, the new anticorruption system provides new and stronger tools for those eager to take on bad behavior.
South Africa Shows Anticorruption Tools Aren’t Enough
While laws against corruption are important, they’re not enough—as South Africa shows. The nation’s anticorruption efforts, enshrined in its 1995 Constitution, have foundered under Jacob Zuma’s government. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), created to fight wrongdoing, dropped 783 charges of corruption, fraud, and racketeering against Zuma for his ties to a multi-billion dollar arms deal. In April, Pretoria’s High Court unanimously condemned the dismissals, calling for the charges to be revived. Now the NPA says it will appeal to South Africa’s supreme judicial body to overturn the High Court’s verdict. Though that outcome is unlikely—the Constitutional Court has been democratic South Africa’s strongest anticorruption tool—the process illuminates the limits of laws without political will.
Venezuela’s Slow-Motion Coup
While Turkey’s failed coup dominates headlines, Venezuela’s military furthered its political control to little international condemnation. Active and retired military officers already governed nearly half of Venezuela’s twenty-three states, one-third of its ministries, and ten state-owned companies in sectors ranging from transportation to agriculture. They set up a new oil and mining company that could absorb state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) assets, giving the Ministry of Defense power over the country’s vast natural resources. In the face of a deepening humanitarian crisis, President Nicolás Maduro expanded Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López’s responsibilities—putting him in charge of all ministries and institutions. The question now is whether Maduro is much more than a figurehead.