Three points on corruption in Mexico - November 2020

A new national survey suggests a third of businesses have experienced corruption in the past year

The Employers Confederation of the Mexican Republic (COPARMEX) polled its membership and found that 32% of businesses had experienced corruption during 2020. That is down from 35% in 2019. Most of the corruption relates to municipal level corruption, not federal.

Some things about the survey seemed slightly off from my perception of states, particularly the low levels of corruption found in Chihuahua and Guanajuato. Maybe my perception is wrong. Or, it may be a reflection of the membership surveyed (for example, if they surveyed a large number of foreign-owned factories in the Juarez area, they might have found those businesses experience fewer requests related to bribes for permits, even if local small and medium sized businesses experience corruption at closer to national levels). 

In any event, I like sharing data even when I have questions about it because it adds to the national picture.

MCCI finds corruption risks within Pemex contracting

Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI) published a new report on the risks of corruption in the energy sector, specifically Pemex contracting. The organization reviewed around 2,800 bidding processes that have occurred since 2018. They found that a large number of the processes including some of the largest contract awards have occurred under limited bidding processes (in which only a small number of companies were invited to participate) or directly awarded without a competitive bid.

MCCI also found 58 contacts that were awarded to shell companies, companies that were under sanction for previous contacting violations or companies that were so recently created that they had no past performance indicators.

The MCCI report includes plenty of data and charts such as the one above and can be read here.

The Cienfuegos decision hangs over AMLO’s anti-corruption agenda and the military’s role in corruption

There has been plenty of commentary over the past week about how AMLO’s decision to pressure the US to release former Defense Minister Cienfuegos may impact security or the perception of AMLO’s anti-corruption agenda.

Another angle to this story is the increasing influence of the Mexican military on the country’s economy and civilian political situation. Lopez Obrador has leaned heavily on the military since taking office in December 2018. The National Guard is basically the military in new uniforms while the role of the Federal Police has been reduced. The military has also been given a much larger economic role in the country with its involvement in construction projects such as the new airport north of the capital and its role in overseeing and preventing corruption at Pemex.

Given the amount of money involved, it’s worth considering how Mexico now fits into the concept of military entrepreneurship in Latin America. AMLO is providing new openings for questionably legal profiteering as well as illegal corruption. He has demonstrated that he is not interested in investigations should corruption occur. In doing so, the president is likely reshaping the types of influence and pressure that the Mexican military is exerting on the current civilian government and will exert on future governments.

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