Mexico’s corruption problems are still among the world’s deepest

corruption in mexico essay

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corruption in mexico essay

Mexico has struggled with corruption for a long, long time, but recent events indicate that the situation is now at a truly intolerable pitch.

This spring, two fugitive state governors were arrested in a joint operation by Interpol and the Mexican police. Javier Duarte , who was captured in Guatemala, served six years as governor of the state of Veracruz, during which he allegedly misappropriated 233m pesos (US$12m) of public funds. Tomás Yarrington , onetime governor of the state of Tamaulipas, was arrested in Italy; he stands accused of co-operating with an extremely dangerous drug gang known as the Gulf Cartel . Both men are former members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, now led by Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto .

This is not a novelty. Back in 1987, Gabriel Zaid’s book La economía presidencial put it as bluntly as could be: “Corruption is not a disagreeable characteristic of the Mexican political system: it is the system.”

Corruption has its roots not in any particular culture or history, but in human nature. It is present in some form in every community and every country. But where corruption pervades all levels of the state, as it does in Mexico, it creates an environment in which other forms of crime can thrive.

This is particularly true when it comes to organised crime, which if left unchecked can start a cycle of bribery and impunity. The sheer magnitude of illicit funds that major criminal organisations accrue allows them to readily bribe susceptible public authorities; this, in turn, gives them near-free reign for criminal activities such as drug trafficking, pimping and extortion, all of which raise more money.

This cycle can become almost impossible to break, and as honest citizens fall victim to violent crimes and watch their governments do nothing to stop them, they start to lose faith in their society’s institutions.

The cycle continues

This is what’s happened in much of Mexico, which was ranked 123rd among 176 countries in the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index . On a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean), it came in at a poor 30. Some use the term narco-state to describe the open corruption between the Mexican political system and drug cartels, especially at the local level.

It’s hard to forget the horrifying 2014 kidnap and presumed murder of 43 students in the state of Guerrero. A goverment-appointed panel found that the students, who may well have been targeted for their left-wing activism, were brutally attacked and abducted by local police officers in league with members of the criminal organisation known as Guerreros Unidos .

Then there’s now-extradited drug lord Joaquín Guzmán, also known as El Chapo, who made various escapes from what were supposed to be Mexico’s most secure prisons with the help of prison officers. But events of this sort are not uncommon in Mexico: just this spring, Juan Jose Esparragoza Monzon , the son of another Mexican drug lord, escaped from prison with four compatriots.

corruption in mexico essay

The effects of systemic corruption extend far beyond these individual cases. The Mexican Institute for Competitiveness calculated that each year corruption costs the country between 2% and 10% of its GDP, reduces foreign investment by 5%, and wipes out 480,000 jobs from small and medium-sized businesses. It frustrates any sense of meritocracy, resulting in a serious brain drain that severely depletes Mexico’s skilled labour force.

Above all, corruption eats into the security of human rights , whether civil, political, economic, social and cultural. And its criminal perpetrators use the most brutal of methods to escape scrutiny: 62% of journalists murdered in Mexico since 1992 had investigated cases of corruption, political or otherwise, and 86% of these homicides have gone unpunished.

The long haul

The reasons for this sad state of affairs are many and complex. High up the list is the historical weakness of the central Mexican state, which dates back to its very founding . The lawless space it left allowed the spread of banditry and normalised the practice of graft among public officials. Such customs then evolved in modern Mexico’s informal economy , a sphere of unregulated, untaxed, uncontrolled and downright illegal business practices.

Once this sort of systemic corruption passes a certain threshold, it becomes almost impossible to eradicate – and yet, some aspects of the Mexican experience have a glimmer of hope about them.

For all that corruption seems to be tightly woven into Mexico’s national fabric, Mexicans themselves are still fighting it, and hard. That much was made clear by thousands of protestors . And in July 2016, under mounting pressure from the international community, the Mexican government at last enacted new anti-corruption measures . Even in a country whose national political system is widely considered deeply corrupt, anti-corruption reforms are not out of the question.

Still, it pays to be realistic. Systemic corruption cannot be beaten merely through the enactment of some legislative instruments. What is needed is a dramatic change in political culture, as well constant political and social efforts – all of which in turn require vast reserves of time, resilience, and resolve.

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This is how Mexico is fighting corruption

Businessmen hold balloons forming the word that reads 'Corruption' during a protest by members of the Mexican Employers' Confederation (COPARMEX) to demand senators to approve the original proposal of the National Anticorruption System, at the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City, Mexico, June 16, 2016.

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Corruption is a chronic and systemic disease throughout the whole Latin American region. Transparency International´s Corruption Perceptions Index paints a clear picture: 81% of the countries from the Americas have a score below 50 out of 100.

From Brazil to Venezuela, and Panama to Mexico, corruption scandals have become an all too common occurrence in Latin America. But the other feature that defines the region is impunity, which comes as a result of a weak and fragile state.

After each scandal, instead of getting to the root of what is a systemic problem, leaders and policy-makers instead focused on weeding out one or two bad apples, as though that would make a difference.

But in Mexico, civil society tried something different.

According to research from the Mexican Statistics Agency, Mexicans see corruption as one of the most important issues facing the country, second only to insecurity. It has become the main topic of discussion in political campaigns and the priority for organized civil society.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2016 found that Mexico’s weakest link is its institutions, and corruption is the most problematic factor for doing business. This presents a significant barrier to social stability and economic growth.

However, at the beginning of the current political administration, the fight against corruption was a vague campaign promise. Without much conviction, a proposal was presented by the president to Congress: the idea was to create a National Anticorruption Commission (NAC), as part of a wider legislative package – known as the “Pact for Mexico” ( Pacto por México) – that was negotiated between the three biggest political parties.

Many civil society groups and academics rejected the president’s proposal, arguing it was too narrow in vision and failed to grasp the complex phenomenon of corruption. Among the most important weaknesses pointed out was that it consisted of a sole entity, incapable of coordinating efforts between the many state and federal entities, and already lacking in autonomy from other branches of power.

Instead of an overarching commission, experts and academics proposed the creation of a National Anticorruption System (NAS), a coordination entity to bring together institutions that were already in place and that had the capacities to impede corruption, but had been operating without clear coordination, autonomy or resources.

Instead of being an institution commanded by a “czar”, the NAS would be an entity regulated by a board. But perhaps the most radical idea was that the NAS board would be presided by a citizen and not by a state agency. A body integrated by five independent citizens would preside over the anticorruption system.

The fight against corruption implies at first a complex legislative agenda that is necessary to disrupt the status quo of the political elite. As such to many in Mexico at this time, the idea of leaving the timing and the content of this important agenda in their hands was no longer an adequate solution.

An alternative leadership began to emerge from civil society, to put pressure on the political elite and to put forward solutions to these systemic problems.

By May of 2015, Mexico had approved the full creation of a NAS in its constitution. Once the NAS reform was declared, at least seven more secondary laws were required in order to build and regulate the anti-corruption system.

Mexico’s civil society groups, academics and activists gathered to design one of the laws, using a bill presented by citizens that requires congress to legally discuss the content if it is backed by at least 110,000 signatures (0.13 % of the electorate). Support for the bill must be provided physically (no electronic signatures) and must be accompanied by each person’s full name, detailed information and their original signature.

The law was nicknamed “Ley 3 de 3” (Law three out of three), as it demanded that public servants mandatorily publish three declarations: asset declaration, declaration of possible conflict of interest, and proof of fiscal standing.

The campaign to gather the necessary signatures was launched. From the start, students, employer unions, movie theatres, financial institutions, hotel chains, restaurants, citizens and many other businesses became proactive allies in building collective action. Highly influential Mexican radio and TV anchors talked about it on their daily shows. Activists, academics and columnists discussed it endlessly.

One month later, on 17 March, the movement delivered 309,476 signatures to the senate to be validated. The national support for the initiative was such that signatures kept growing and the movement was able to deliver a total of 634,143 citizen signatures in less than a month – over five times the original number required.

Once validated by the National Electoral Institute (INE), the initiative was passed by the senate and a group of civil society representatives were invited to participate in the dialogue to discuss and define not just the specific law proposed, but the whole anticorruption legislation package.

The number of signatures gathered for the “Ley3de3” is historic in Mexico´s political history – not only because of the numbers of people mobilized, but because it represented the de facto destruction of a monopoly that often corrupt political parties had on the national political agenda.

As footage of the ley3de3 debate was aired, and people followed along on social media, politicians looked uncomfortable. For the first time, parties needed to publicly reveal their true positions about complex issues such as the organizational structure of the NAS, the coordination and relationships between various authorities, sanctions under the new administrative responsibilities regime, transparency in declarations and a new model for the Administrative Tribunal.

On 17 June this year, both Houses of Congress approved two new general laws and reformed five others after long deliberations, sessions and a sum of efforts from political parties to change the content of the citizens’ initiative.

The new anticorruption system is now based on three pillars: a coordinated and widespread system of internal audit and control, as an effective tool to prevent corruption; a very strict and comprehensive regime of administrative responsibilities to stop the expansion of the phenomenon; and a strong new criminal regime to make justice a normal practice.

Anticorruption reforms and innovative policies should naturally be bottom-up ideas. However, conceiving new ideas is a meaningless process without the proper leadership to push them forward.

The fight against corruption is a multilateral responsibility, and it needs a new kind of creative and positive leadership from different sectors of society to ensure systemic change. The Mexican case is interesting, not because the problem is solved, but because a new type of leadership emerged to set a different agenda.

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Corruption and Democracy in Mexico: An Empirical Analysis

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For decades, Mexico’s single party government and concentration of power in a presidential figure prevented the country from developing strong institutions that support the rule of law. The system governing the administration of justice functioned as an arm of the executive branch and was often used against critics of the government. Even when Mexico democratized in the late 1990s and early 2000s, its judicial institutions remained weak. Mexico’s government maintained a stranglehold over the economy, organizing it as a corporativist system.1 The country’s parastatal economy created an environment in which government loyalists received benefits that were unavailable to critics.2 The weak judicial system and the corporativist economy fostered corruption with no independent institutions to check it. Today, despite progress in building institutions—such as a stronger congress, an independent Supreme Court, a strong Central Bank, an autonomous National Electoral Institute, a freer press, and numerous regulatory commissions—there has been little progress in fighting corruption, and Mexico’s democracy remains fragile. In fact, corruption levels have increased over time. The primacy of corruption as an issue in Mexico was a significant component in the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the presidency in 2018, as he pledged to end corrupt practices in the government.

The paradox of López Obrador’s administration is that while he promised to end corruption, he has also advocated a return to a more centralized political power and a stronger government role in the economy—the very things that may have fostered the levels of corruption in Mexico today. This puts Mexico in a delicate position because the two structural sources of corruption—a state-led economy and a powerful executive—are the very instruments that López Obrador believes can help him fight it. In addition, this return to a centralized government affects Mexico’s democracy too, as does López Obrador’s policy of confronting autonomous institutions and trying to weaken them. This leads to serious questions: if democracy in Mexico is threatened and reduced, how does this affect corruption? Is there a relationship between these two variables in Mexico, and if so, how do they interact with each other? Given Mexico’s history, and López Obrador’s strategy, it is necessary to disentangle the relationship between democracy and corruption. This research paper aims to answer these questions, specifically if democracy has an effect on corruption in Mexico and what functional form this relationship has

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Complexity and Corruption: The need for a Synthetic Understanding of Corruption in Mexico

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This paper suggests that corruption should be studied as a complex, dynamic and non-linear problem. A first argument is dedicated to show that corruption behaves like a complex system and thus can and should be studied through the lens of complexity theory. The author also suggests that corruption has been studied from the standpoint of many disciplines, however there are no communicating vessels between fields and this prevents a synthetic or holistic understanding of the problem. The study also reflects on how a complexity approach to corruption can modify the way policymakers and development practitioners design and communicate anticorruption policies.

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Failing Justice in Mexico: Institutional Weaknesses

Mexico's criminal context is multidimensional. As Mexico stands now, measures to stop criminals are ineffective, and lawbreakers continue to escape justice.

Failing Justice in Mexico: Institutional Weaknesses

Undertrained police and high rates of corruption allow criminals to escape justice in Mexico. As long as these institutional weaknesses remain unaddressed, crime will continue to proliferate.

Wide spread corruption, high rates of crime impunity, and ineffective police and justice systems have allowed organised crime to flourish.

Increased militarisation of the war on drugs has failed to produce results, as efforts are negated by these government deficiencies. In contrast, strengthening the institutions meant to provide security and well-being may be a path that leads to long-term peace.

Rampant corruption is a major reason for the ineffectiveness of Mexico’s security and justice systems.

Corruption reaches some of the highest levels of government, with the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party accused of embezzling tens of millions of dollars, illegally surveilling citizens, and allotting contracts based on bribery.

On a state level, 42 governors have been suspected of corruption since 2000, though only 17 have been investigated.

Download and read the full 2018 Mexico Peace Index Report

Government corruption affects law enforcement as well, leading to an extremely low level of public trust in the police. Only 18% of Mexicans expressed a high level of trust in public security institutions in 2017 , and only 7% in the case of municipal police. Additionally, only 13% are aware of any action taken to tackle corruption.

Compounding these issues, Mexico also suffers from a high level of impunity.

According to the Global Impunity Index , Mexico has the highest impunity rate in the Americas and the fourth highest globally, only behind Cameroon, India, and the Philippines. Criminals are able to avoid punishment by bribing members of the justice system.

Law enforcement officials have also escaped prosecution for crimes such as rape and torture of suspects. This dissuades citizens from exposing criminals due to fear of retaliation, as the perpetrators will not be held in jail, and heightens mistrust of the police.

For the 30 states that provide data on impunity, the ratio of murders to convictions is 56 percent. This includes organised crime cases in which multiple suspects are tried for the same murder, meaning more than 44 percent of cases may result in no conviction. Impunity rates vary greatly between states. In Tamaulipas, the state with the highest rate of impunity, only 0.2 percent of murder cases result in conviction.

The weakness of institutions in Mexico is exacerbated by a shortage of justice officials. Mexico has 4.2 judges per 100,000 people, significantly below the global average of 16.23.   This deficit of judges leads to slow trial times, contributing to the high number of prisoners held in pre-trial detention. The average level of prison overcrowding across the 31 states is 103% of capacity, which translates to 1,220 people per state. The worst state, Nayarit, has prisons filled to 223 percent of capacity, topping all others.

corruption in mexico essay

A key factor in the ineffectiveness of law enforcement is the understaffing of the police force. Low numbers mean employees must work longer hours and skip training programs for lack of time. Only 71% of state security employees have received full training. In the state of Hidalgo, only 24% have been fully trained, the lowest percentage in the country. Additionally, in a 2014 evaluation by the National Public Security System, 65 percent of officers failed to demonstrate the required skills for protecting the public.

In the face of rising crime and deteriorating peacefulness, the federal government has deployed troops to replace the police in certain areas. The current spike in domestic military involvement began in 2007, when the number of soldiers deployed throughout Mexico rose from 20,000 to 50,000.  Although their deployment was meant to be temporary, soldiers remain on the streets. In some states, the police have completely replaced the local police force.

The militarisation of law enforcement has not resulted in peace. Soldiers lack basic law enforcement skills such as gathering evidence or interrogating suspects, and in some cases their presence may have compounded the problem. According to a study released in 2011 , violence has increased disproportionally in states where the federal police has given power to the military.

Additionally, the domestically deployed soldiers have committed human rights abuses and other serious crimes, with the military facing around 1,000 complaints from civilians annually. These charges include the murder of 22 suspects and the disappearance of 43. However, only 16 soldiers facing these kinds of charges have been convicted.

The use of the military as police has been criticised both domestically and internationally. In particular, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has decried the 2017 law which formalised the interference of the military into domestic affairs.

corruption in mexico essay

Faced with weak public safety institutions, many in Mexico have turned to private security providers. From 2010 to 2016, the number of private security companies in Mexico increased 32 percent. The number rose steadily despite a drop in GDP in 2015, suggesting the number of companies is not solely tied to economic expansion. The unregulated nature of these companies poses a challenge for transparency.

Additionally, citizens have sometimes taken their security into their own hands, forming volunteer civilian defense groups to guard against cartel violence, as in the town of Tancitaro.

Strengthening Mexico’s institutions is essential to decreasing the violence which plagues the country.

As Mexico stands now, undertrained police forces and ill-equipped military units are both ineffective at stopping criminals, and high rates of corruption and impunity allow these lawbreakers to escape justice. As long as these institutional weaknesses remain unaddressed, crime will continue to proliferate in Mexico.


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Suru Institute | Global Social Problems, Current Economy & Poverty Issues

Police and Corruption in Mexico. Paths and Proposals.

corruption in mexico essay

By Luis Bravo Govea

Mexican national guard

One of the problems plaguing Mexican history is its relationship with corruption and the perception that comes with it, which is already part of Mexico’s political culture. Its police force stands at the forefront. In recent years, police forces have undergone several reforms in an attempt at structural improvement. In order to understand these changes, it is necessary to clarify a few points about the Mexican police.

First of all, we should recognize that it is a complex, decentralized, and multi-level institution, aligning with Mexico’s federalist system. Broadly speaking, there are three levels of police in Mexico:

  • Municipal Police: with jurisdiction in the municipality and in charge of situational prevention of common crimes and support for neighborhood level issues such as fights or family violence.
  • State Police: with jurisdiction in the state. They have greater investigative authority than the municipal police and more power to react to crimes.
  • Federal Police: with jurisdiction over the entire country. They deal with crimes that threaten the country as a whole such as drug trafficking or terrorism and require more extensive operational capacity.

The police are divided as such to create differentiated capabilities to deal with different social problems. This article focuses on federal police reform measures which are linked to national issues.

From Federal Police to the National Guard

Faced with the growth of drug trafficking in Mexico, the Federal Police faced intense scrutiny, so much so that they became seen as insufficient to safeguard order in Mexico. This led to the army increasingly taking over public security tasks. Since 2006, this process has accelerated.

The perception of the police as corrupt, and the military as less prone to such corruption sparked a 2018 reform measure essentially dissolving the federal police and replacing them with a semi-militarized body called the “National Guard,” tasked with ending “systematic police corruption.”

The National Guard’s command has since become very controversial, as they are not trained as law enforcement officers. Likewise, they were marketed to the public as a civilian-led body, yet the military were always in charge.

Alternatives to Police Reform

It is worth reflecting on this premise, since there is evidence linking the militarization of public security in Mexico to increases in violence and human rights violations , not to mention that it has yet to accomplish its goal of eliminating institutional corruption.

Two alternatives to the current model for police reform in Mexico include:

1. Returning Public Security to the Civilian Sphere

The military has had its hands in public security since 2006, and the results have been questionable. This has been a trend from prior government administrations up to the current one. Thus, one alternative is a reform measure supporting and promoting civilian commanders and professionalizing the police, courts, and tribunals, in order to address the issue from a non-military and non-internal security perspective.

2. Strengthening the Municipal Level

In Mexico, municipal police have been virtually abandoned to the detriment of the federal and military order. There are some cases in Mexico that serve as evidence that retaking and reinforcing the local civilian sphere can give better results, favoring local police over federal approaches.

These are just a few of the many changes needed in Mexico that illustrate some alternative approaches focused on empowering Mexican civil society.

In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that the problem of police corruption is structural and multi-causal. Neglect at the local level and militarization at the federal level has thus far proven to be a recipe for disaster. We urgently must open the debate on this problem in Mexico .

Main image by Gobierno Cholula  via Flickr– Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0).

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Luis Bravo (Mexico City, 1992) has a bachelor's degree in sociology and a master's degree in political and social studies. He is currently specializing in public security and is also dedicated to teaching. His research interests focus on the analysis of political actors, security policy in Mexico and Mexico-United States relations.

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corruption in mexico essay

What’s behind the rise in political violence in Mexico?

Election campaign marred by assassinations of dozens of candidates.

Dozens of candidates have been killed ahead of Mexico’s general election amid surging political violence.

Dozens of public servants, party members and politicians across the country have also been attacked ahead of the June 2 election, which will see almost 100 million Mexicans eligible to cast a ballot in the country’s largest vote.

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Outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has expanded the military and the role it plays in society. He pledged to crack down on corruption and organised crime.

Have his policies improved the lives of Mexicans?

And what problems will his successor inherit?

Presenter: Cyril Vanier

Carlos Bravo Regidor – Political analyst

Maureen Meyer – Vice president of programs at the Washington Office on Latin America, an NGO

Falko Ernst – Senior analyst on Mexico at the International Crisis Group

Mexico: Corruption In The US Essay

Corruption in Mexico has permeated several segments of society – political, economic, and social – and has seriously affected the country’s legitimacy, transparency, accountability, and effectiveness. The emphasis of this case study will focus on the violence and corruption of Mexico and how it affects political participation. The never-ending corruption, in essence is all circular: the corruption effects participation which in turn creates more violence. However, political participation is necessary to overcome such violence.

How did Mexico become such a weak state? We can start with the Mexican Revolution, it began in 1910, and its purpose was to end dictatorship in Mexico and establish a constitutional republic. The dictatorship was oppressive and the only way to defeat it was to start a war. The violence that continues today was started all those years ago. A new legal framework was established in the Constitution of 1917, which reversed the principle established under Porfirio Diaz. Usually post-revolution is marked by peace; however, the state was unstable.

This is where the (PRI) Partido Revolucionario Institucional takes advantage and takes it upon itself to take power. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) maintained power for 71 years by establishing patronage networks and relying on personal measures. Mexico functioned as a oneparty state with no real political participation. The people in power took/gave bribes and overlooked crime (or committed it themselves) to stay in power. How did this happen? According to the Huffington Post there are 3 main causes behind Mexico’s crisis of corruption and impunity.

The basis behind the article’s argument is the Mexico itself is a weak state (Lomnitz,2014). Economically Mexico is far behind the US, its instability lead it to be easily taken over. Reason number 1 is the informal economy: “between one and two-thirds of Mexico’s population today relies on economic practices that are tolerated, but outside of the law” (Lomnitz, 2014). These generally involve minor infractions, but “informal economies can only be regulated with petty corruption — by police who get bribed to look the other way while controlling the overall volume and flow of operations” (Lomnitz, 2014).

Reason number 2 is no accountability without taxation: Mexico’s tax base has relied disproportionately on the state-owned oil company, Pemex, for its revenue; “such a narrow tax base fosters low levels of accountability” (Lomnitz, 2014). Lastly reason number 3 is drug and gun control policies: this according to the article is the most “destructive factor that must be accounted for to complete the picture: Mexico’s quagmire of impunity has been deeply affected by American drug and gun control policies” (Lomnitz, 2014).

The article ties the US’ need for drugs and guns and Mexico being able to provide it cheaply, this created the drug ring. The now reigning drug war brought by the cartels. The article states that “there is a deep history behind Mexico’s current horrors of crime and impunity that only Mexicans can deal with, but U. S. drug and gun policies are also responsible” (Lomnitz, 2014). Going back to the root of the corruption, is the reign of the PRI. In terms of power, it was second only to the president, who also serves as the party’s effective chief. Until the early 1980s, the PRI’s position in the Mexican political system was hegemonic, with opposition parties posing little or no threat to its power base or its near monopoly of public office” (Mexico – Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The PRI was founded by Calles in 1929 as the National Revolutionary Party (Partido Nacional Revolucionario–PNR), a loose confederation of local political bosses and military strongmen grouped together with labor unions , peasant organizations, and regional political parties.

In its early years, it served primarily as a means of organizing and containing the political competition among the leaders of the various revolutionary factions. Calles, operating through the party organization, was able to undermine much of the strength of peasant and labor organizations that affiliated with the party and to weaken the regional military commanders who had operated with great autonomy throughout the 1920s. By 1934 Calles was in control of Mexican politics and government, even after he left the presidency, largely through his manipulation of the PNR.

This situation changed during the mid-1980s, as opposition parties of the left and right began to seriously challenge PRI candidates for local, state, and national-level offices (Mexico – Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)). The PRI and its predecessors engineered an unprecedented political peace. The “overt political intervention by the military that had characterized the country’s politics throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries largely disappeared when Avila Camacho, the last president who came from a military background, left office in 1946″ (Mexico – Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)).

For nearly five decades, there were few episodes of large-scale organized violence and no revolutionary movements that enjoyed widespread support. Despite considerable economic strains between 1968 and 1975 and a difficult period of economic austerity beginning in 1982; this was when “opposition parties of the left and right began to seriously challenge PRI candidates for local, state, and nationallevel offices”, even though there had been stability the was still no public voice (Mexico – Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)).

This is when the serious political participation came into play . The successful transition into democracy lead to massive instability that paved the way for drug lords and the people of Mexico to try and fight back. This following study follows why ordinary citizens do not actively try to fight back: The Criminal Community of Victims and Perpetrators: Cognitive Foundations of Citizen Detachment from Organized Violence in Mexico. “Mexico has experienced an epidemic of organized societal violence known as the drug war that, to date, has caused well ver 100,000 casualties” (Schedler, 2016). Most of this violence has been consigned to oblivion, without proper investigation or prosecution. Victims have been organizing and protesting, yet ordinary citizens have remained quiet because they are afraid. The study is broken up into sections each with the purpose of trying to examine the “logic of political solidarity in epidemics of organized criminal violence that reveal structural failures of both public security and public justice” (Schedler, 2016).

The first section analyzes why people/ordinary citizens do not try to voice their outrage. Some of the main reason is that voice what is wrong can be difficult, it presents too many questions. Why is the corruption wrong, why fix it, how do you fix it, how is it anyone’s business what the government is doing? Schedler sums this section up with the triangle of violence. There are multiple dimensions in analyzing the causes of drug violence and trade. I will focus on the political economy framework for drug violence.

To understand the interaction between the drugs and states, you must first understand that it is more than just business and money. It is to create fear and establish authority. A case done by Angelica Duran-Martinez, To Kill and Tell? State Power, Criminal Competition, and Drug Violence, looks a precisely this. There is balance between state authority and the driving force that is the cartel. There is a need and a market to provide illicit drugs. Her logic is that “in illegal markets, criminals may use violence to solve disputes given the absence of legal mediation.

Violence can also signal toughness: the more violent an organization, the less likely that competitors will try to overpower it or that members of the organization will cheat or defraud. The more visible violence is, the more likely that the toughness and power of the organization will be communicated to the public, which is to the criminals’ advantage. Yet, violence also has drawbacks, such as scaring away nonviolent partners and, especially, attracting police attention”, unless you have the majority of the police force either working for you or are bribed to look the other way Duran-Martinez, 2015). The people and the state are aware of what is going on which leads to the next point of transparency or lack thereof. In both the media there is a lack of transparency, which is why some people would rather not touch the cartels.

Why mess with the one thing the tells the truth (although horrible)? The media can only report so much, there is a lack of free speech. The government itself is partially corrupt. With all of the drug violence at the forefront of the media , the government itself is getting away with lots. Governors from opposing political parties succeeding one another and doing away with the unspoken pact of the PRI years, in which incoming leaders protected departing ones, a system of checks and balances — some have called it political retribution — is emerging. Freedom of information laws, recent legislative overhauls demanding more accountability from state governments and an increasingly technologically engaged society have been more successful at preventing murky finances from going unquestioned” (Zabludovsky, 2013).

Hundreds of thousands of dollars all unaccounted for and not a single eye-brow raised. Inroads in transparency, however, have yet to change the culture and mentality of “El que no tranza, no avanza,” or “He who does not cheat, does not get ahead,” a popular motto here (Zabludovsky, 2013). “And these victories have yet to transform the country’s image abroad: Mexico fell in Transparency International’s corruption perception index to 105th place in 2012 from 57th in 2002, with a lower ranking indicating that the country is seen as more corrupt”. We still don’t have accountability,” said Mr. Cancino, the political analyst, who warned that progress in transparency practices at the federal level would slowly make their way down to the local and state levels. “There are still 32 battles that we have to wage,” he said, referring to Mexico’s 31 states and one federal district (Zabludovsky, 2013). There are many major issues that hold Mexico back from being a major economy and a real-world player. How can a state be successful if there is no trust?

There is no transparency, no beneficial political participation, no real stability. The cartels and violence have a hold on the economy and on the weak state. The only way to overcome that is to try to overcome what is presented. Create a stable economy by changing the taxation platform to something with a higher intake. Clean out the political system , get rid of the corruption. Ask for help from other states. The process will be difficult, but if the citizens know they can be backed up by their state, they will be more apt to fight against the drugs, corruption, and violence.

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What to know about Mexico’s historic elections on Sunday that will likely put a woman in power

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexicans will vote Sunday in historic elections weighing gender, democracy and populism, as they chart the country’s path forward in voting shadowed by cartel violence.

With two women leading the contest, Mexico will likely elect its first female president – a major step in a country long marked by its “macho” culture. The election will also be the biggest in the country’s history. More than 20,000 congressional and local positions are up for grabs, according to the National Electoral Institute.

The number of contested posts has fed bloodshed during the campaigns, as criminal groups have used local elections as an opportunity to exert power. A toxic slate of cartels and gangs have battled for turf and more than 20 people seeking political office have been killed just this year.

Also at play is the political legacy of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Mexico’s often tumultuous relationship with the United States.

Who are the candidates in Mexico’s presidential election?

Candidate Claudia Sheinbaum, the former mayor of Mexico City, has maintained a comfortable double-digit lead in polls for months. She promises to be a continuation of populist leader López Obrador and is backed by his ruling Morena party. Trained as a scientist, Sheinbaum has had to walk a fine line to carve out her own image while highlighting her connection to López Obrador, though she lacks the charisma that attracted many to her political ally.

READ MORE: Mexico presidential candidates offer little detail to address country’s cartel violence in final debate

Candidate Xóchitl Gálvez, an opposition senator and tech entrepreneur, represents a coalition of parties that have had little historically to unite them other than their recent opposition to López Obrador. Gálvez is a fierce critic of the outgoing president who doesn’t shy away from verbal sparring, but who hasn’t appeared to ignite much fervor for her Strength and Heart for Mexico coalition.

The third candidate is little-known Jorge Álvarez Máynez, a former federal congressman from the Citizen Movement party. He has focused on trying to scoop up the young vote, but has not gotten much traction.

What has President López Obrador meant for this election?

Elected in 2018, López Obrador tapped into large swathes of the population like the working-class and poor, rural voters who had long felt forgotten by the political system. He made combatting corruption his top priority. Despite not being on the ballot, much of Sunday’s election has revolved around him.

Though he remains highly popular, López Obrador has shown himself to be intolerant of criticism and oversight. And his critics say his moves to attack the judiciary, slash funding to Mexico’s electoral agency and expand the military’s responsibilities in civilian life have eroded Mexican democracy. The opposition has responded with large protests.

López Obrador is considered Sheinbaum’s mentor and if she is elected, it would cement his legacy and show that his Morena party can survive beyond his presidency.

When are Mexico’s elections and how does voting work?

Parties selected their candidates well before the official start of campaigning for the presidential, congressional and municipal elections. On June 2, millions of voters will cast for their new leaders in a single round of voting. The winner of the highly anticipated presidential election will serve a six-year term.

While most eyes are on the presidential race, Mexicans will also vote for 128 senators, 500 congressional representatives and for nearly 20,000 local government positions.

Why has the campaign cycle been so violent?

Under López Obrador’s “hugs not bullets” policy, which emphasizes addressing the societal root causes of violence, analysts say cartels and other criminal groups have expanded their control. Homicide rates have remained stubbornly high despite promises by López Obrador to ease the violence. López Obrador has in many cases refused to confront criminal groups, and activists say his government has tried to reduce the official count of Mexico’s forcibly disappeared in the lead up to the election.

READ MORE: A politician running for mayor in northern Mexico is killed, the 16th hopeful slain over June vote

Cartels and other criminal groups see elections – particularly local elections – as an opportunity to make power grabs. They’ve warred for turf and at least 145 people tied to politics have been slain by organized crime this year, according to tracking by the human rights organization Data Civica.

Violence has been particularly severe in states where criminal groups are fighting for territory like Chiapas and Guerrero in the south, and Michoacan in central Mexico.

Mexico’s first woman president

Electing a female president would be a huge step in a country with soaring levels of gender-based violence and deep gender disparities.

Mexico still has a famously intense “machismo,” or culture of male chauvinism, that has created large economic and social disparities in society. In its most extreme form, the misogyny is expressed in high rates of femicides, and things like acid attacks against women.

Yet a historic number of women in the socially conservative country are taking up leadership and political roles.

That’s in part due to a decades-long push by authorities for greater representation in politics, including laws that require political parties to have half of their congressional candidates be women. Since 2018, Mexico’s Congress has had a 50-50 gender split, and the number of female governors has shot up.

Both frontrunner Sheinbaum and Gálvez have promised to address high rates of gender-based violence and gender disparities if they win.

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Guest Essay

Mexico’s Women Are Speaking. Will a Female President Listen?

A woman climbs down a boulder in Mexico.

By Cristina Rivera Garza

Ms. Rivera Garza’s book “Liliana’s Invincible Summer: A Sister’s Search for Justice” is about one of the many women killed by femicide in Mexico.

My mother was born in 1943 in a country where she was not allowed to vote. The Mexican government did not grant women the right to vote in national elections — or the right to hold public office on a national level — until Oct. 17, 1953. Now, almost 71 years later, for the first time two women are leading the race to be Mexico’s next president: Claudia Sheinbaum, who is the front-runner, and Xóchitl Gálvez. It is no small feat for a country with a longstanding and complex relationship with machismo , and where every day some 10 women or girls are killed on average.

And yet this accomplishment has often felt like an afterthought during this historic election. Ms. Sheinbaum, a scientist running on the ticket of the ruling Morena party, and Ms. Gálvez, a businesswoman representing a mix of parties from the political establishment, have nodded at the achievements of feminism and its influence on Mexico’s public life. But they have been cautious about lingering too long on women’s issues in their campaigns, conspicuously tiptoeing around abortion and reproductive rights, seemingly out of deference to conservative voters. Neither candidate has put forth a strong agenda to serve the women who put them where they are today.

For as Mexico descended into its nightmare of generalized violence, from the U.S.-backed war on drugs to the government of Felipe Calderón and the administration of outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, it has been women — their tireless work, infinite rage and deepening sorrow — who have provided a moral compass to this nation. Women’s mobilizations have grown stronger and louder in the face of government indifference and repression, mounting the only serious opposition against the status quo and making women’s issues and gender justice central to any discussion of our shared future.

To be fair, male candidates have not historically been required to present their agenda for women either. They are seldom even asked about it. But women constitute a little over half of the Mexican electorate; it is imperative that Ms. Sheinbaum and Ms. Gálvez discuss their views and positions on issues that will affect women’s bodies, security and everyday life — not because they are women, but because they are presidential candidates, striving to represent all of us in the highest political office in the country.

On June 2, a woman will almost certainly be given a mandate to govern all of us. She will preside over an electorate that is deeply concerned about insecurity and corruption. The security policy of the current administration — known as “Hugs Not Bullets” — has failed to meaningfully de-escalate the violence unleashed by America’s failed drug policy, a fact painfully brought home by the ever-growing number of disappearances and high rates of gender-related violence. A staggering number of victims’ collectives, made up mostly of the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of the disappeared, travel the nation with little to no funding or institutional support, sometimes unearthing the remains of their loved ones.

The women in my family tell more than the story of suffrage in Mexico. We are also among the countless families seeking justice for their murdered daughters in a country where impunity and corruption regularly obstruct them, particularly in cases of femicide. One among the many pending cases in Mexico today is that of Liliana Rivera Garza , my younger sister, who was killed on July 16, 1990. The man who is presumed to have killed her has never been arrested, despite a warrant.

But this is only part of the picture. The next president of Mexico will also run a country that is home to a vocal and energized women’s movement. In Mexico, femicide is a distinct crime; a specialized prosecutor’s office for the crime of femicide was created in Mexico City in 2019, when Ms. Sheinbaum was mayor. While the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalized abortion in 2023. There is much work to be done — for economic justice, equal access to education, and labor rights, and against racism and homo- and transphobia. But this young generation of Mexican women has made genuine progress, helping find language that is precise, compassionate and forceful enough to dismantle the narratives that have forcibly silenced them and normalized gender violence for too long.

Their success is part of something bigger. Across Latin America, women have been at the forefront of the fight against military dictatorships in Chile (the arpillera movement, for example) and Argentina (the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo). Today, they are holding states responsible for violence and reclaiming public space to remind us that they — that all of us — have the right to live and thrive in safety. On Nov. 25, 2019, during a celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Chilean feminist collective Las Tesis performed the protest song “Un violador en tu camino” (“A rapist in Your Path”), rallying thousands of us to chant against our governments. The next president of Mexico should be aware that the energy unleashed by these actions, which reverberate in Latin America and beyond, is here to stay.

It is these struggles and demands that have shaped the political arena in which Ms. Sheinbaum and Ms. Gálvez now stand. Will the first female president of Mexico be willing and able to honor such history, acknowledging that women’s equality and gender justice are not peripheral issues but crucial to the country’s future? Will she be ready to face the immense challenge of organized crime, both within and outside the government, to secure a violence-free life for all? Will she preserve and defend the safety of the journalists and activists who risk their lives as they hurl hard questions at power? Unlike former presidents, will she listen?

I believe women are complex human beings “with the full range of saintly and demonic behaviors this entails, including criminal ones,” as Margaret Atwood once wrote. And many female leaders — Margaret Thatcher and Corazón Aquino, to mention just two — demonstrated that a woman running the country does not necessarily translate into support for women. Like all presidents in the past, and in the future, the next leader of Mexico will be judged not by her gender but for the decisions and actions of her government.

My mother’s story is part of one Mexico — the one where women have worked together to lift two female candidates to this moment. My sister Liliana’s story warns of another Mexico, one where violence ends things before they get started. Two years before her death, Liliana exercised her right to vote, on July 6, 1988, and enthusiastically joined the crowds that congregated at the main square in Mexico City afterward. She was ready to defend our emerging democracy and oppose the pervasive electoral fraud that kept the Institutional Revolutionary Party in office at the time.

She, like the countless other victims of violence against women in Mexico, cannot vote this week. We can cast our vote only if we are alive.

Cristina Rivera Garza is the author of “Liliana’s Invincible Summer: A Sister’s Search for Justice,” which won a Pulitzer Prize this year.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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Mexico’s poorest receiving less government funds under president who brought poor to the fore

FILE - People gather in the Zocalo to celebrate Mexico's newly sworn-in president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in Mexico City, Dec. 1, 2018. Lopez Obrador swept into office with the motto laying out his administration’s priorities: “For the good of all, first the poor.” (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

FILE - People gather in the Zocalo to celebrate Mexico’s newly sworn-in president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in Mexico City, Dec. 1, 2018. Lopez Obrador swept into office with the motto laying out his administration’s priorities: “For the good of all, first the poor.” (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

FILE - People gather in the Zocalo to celebrate Mexico's newly sworn-in president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in Mexico City, Dec. 1, 2018. Lopez Obrador swept into office with the motto laying out his administration’s priorities: “For the good of all, first the poor.” (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

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FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador deplanes after traveling in economy on a commercial flight from Guadalajara to Mexico City, March 9, 2019. Lopez Obrador swept into office with the motto laying out his administration’s priorities: “For the good of all, first the poor.” (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

FILE - A car covered with handicrafts for sale is parked on a street in Mexico City, Dec. 4, 2023. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador swept into office in 2018 with the motto laying out his administration’s priorities: “For the good of all, first the poor.” (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

People line up outside a branch of “Banco Bienestar,” or Welfare Bank, in Irapuato, Mexico, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. The bank was created by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as a vehicle to get payments from his administration’s programs directly into the hands of Mexicans. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador addresses the nation on his inauguration day at Congress in Mexico City, Dec. 1, 2018. Lopez Obrador swept into office with the motto laying out his administration’s priorities: “For the good of all, first the poor.” (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

FILE - Trash collectors ride on their garbage truck in Mexico City, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador swept into office in 2018 with the motto laying out his administration’s priorities: “For the good of all, first the poor.” (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — President Andrés Manuel López Obrador swept into office nearly six years ago with a simple motto laying out his administration’s priorities: “For the good of all, first the poor.”

His administration scrapped a host of existing social programs and installed their own, quickly increasing overall social spending to unprecedented heights for senior citizens, unemployed youth, students, farmers and people with disabilities.

But less noticed was that the new roster of social programs dramatically shifted who was getting that money. Suddenly, Mexico’s poorest citizens were receiving a smaller portion of the spending and less money than under previous administrations.

Meanwhile, some of Mexico’s wealthiest started getting money they didn’t really need.

FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador deplanes after traveling in economy on a commercial flight from Guadalajara to Mexico City, March 9, 2019. Lopez Obrador swept into office with the motto laying out his administration’s priorities: “For the good of all, first the poor.” (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador deplanes after traveling in economy on a commercial flight from Guadalajara to Mexico City, March 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

The shift owed largely to a massive “universal” pension benefit for seniors that López Obrador launched on a chilly January day outside Mexico City in 2019, just weeks after taking office. He announced he was more than doubling the existing federal pension — it has since doubled again — and expanding it regardless of income to people who previously didn’t qualify, like those who received another pension from their former employer.

If much more money isn’t poured into the system, “universal programs spread benefits more thinly over the whole population with the result that the people who were most in need get worse,” said Robert Greenstein, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “Poverty can go up. Inequality can be greater than it would be under a more targeted scheme.”

But López Obrador’s social programs have proven so popular that even the opposition candidates running to replace him in the June 2 election have promised to expand them. Some 28 million Mexicans will benefit from one of the programs this year. In Sunday night’s final presidential debate, candidate Xóchitl Gálvez said she would lower the minimum pension age to 60 from 65.

FILE - A car covered with handicrafts for sale is parked on a street in Mexico City, Dec. 4, 2023. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador swept into office in 2018 with the motto laying out his administration’s priorities: “For the good of all, first the poor.” (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

FILE - A car covered with handicrafts for sale is parked on a street in Mexico City, Dec. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

The pension is the largest social program by budget in López Obrador’s slate of handouts, far surpassing the also well known Youth Building the Future, which pays young adults who neither study nor work to apprentice, and Sowing Life, which pays farmers to plant fruit or lumber-producing trees on their land.

Combined with the elimination of predecessors’ more targeted programs that had focused on Mexico’s most in need, experts say the pension dramatically shifted the distribution of government funds.

Four months from the end of López Obrador’s six-year term, several million people have escaped poverty. But factors beyond the social programs are involved, including López Obrador’s nearly tripling of the minimum wage and Mexicans abroad continuing to send home record amounts of money to relatives.

Curiously, there are about 400,000 more Mexicans in extreme poverty than at the beginning of his term, according to government data.

A government report published every two years that divides Mexico’s population into 10 segments by income says the very poorest segment in 2018 received about 19% of social spending. Just two years later, that poorest group was receiving only about 6%, said Manuel Martínez Espinoza, a researcher at Mexico’s National Council of the Humanities, Sciences and Technologies. For reasons unknown the government has not published the 2022 report.

FILE - Trash collectors ride on their garbage truck in Mexico City, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador swept into office in 2018 with the motto laying out his administration’s priorities: “For the good of all, first the poor.” (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

FILE - Trash collectors ride on their garbage truck in Mexico City, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)


At a counter in a central Mexico City market, Arturo García leaned over a steaming bowl of tripe stew on a recent morning. The 73-year-old retired cab driver said he stopped taking fares during the pandemic.

Now the $362 (6,000 pesos) he receives from his universal pension every two months and some money he gets renting out a storage space in his home to street vendors are his only sources of income.

“You have money or you don’t have money, they give it to you,” García said of the pension. “The government is trying to make us all equal.”

One of the programs López Obrador ended when he took office was called Prospera. It had targeted Mexico’s poorest families for some two decades under various names with what were known as conditional cash transfers. Poor families received money, but it was restricted by income level and recipients had to meet some requirements to get it, like taking their children for medical checkups.

FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador addresses the nation on his inauguration day at Congress in Mexico City, Dec. 1, 2018. Lopez Obrador swept into office with the motto laying out his administration’s priorities: “For the good of all, first the poor.” (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador addresses the nation on his inauguration day at Congress in Mexico City, Dec. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

The president said the program was clientelist and suffered from systematic corruption, though instances of corruption have also been found in López Obrador’s programs.

Targeted social programs like Prospera attempt to be more precise in steering public funds to specific segments of the population. For that reason they tend to be less expensive than universal programs.

Critics, however, say they stigmatize the poor; have less political support, which makes them vulnerable to being cut; require more administration to determine eligibility and fewer people enroll, said Greenstein, the fellow at the Brookings Institution, adding that those risks are not inherent in targeted programs.

Mexico’s Welfare Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

Prospera’s funding was redirected to López Obrador’s programs, principally the universal pension, signaling an important shift from a means-tested program that largely benefitted poor children to one that provided cash to all senior citizens.

One of the more cynical criticisms of the shift is that children don’t vote, but seniors do.


People line up outside a branch of "Banco Bienestar," or Welfare Bank, in Irapuato, Mexico, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. The bank was created by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as a vehicle to get payments from his administration’s programs directly into the hands of Mexicans. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

The other side of Mexico’s poorest receiving a smaller proportion of social spending under this administration is that people who don’t really need it are getting more.

One morning in late April, César Herrera brought his elderly mother to a branch of the Banco Bienestar, or Welfare Bank, in Mexico City to withdraw her pension payment. The bank was created by López Obrador as a vehicle to get payments from his administration’s programs directly into the hands of Mexicans.

Herrera said he and his mother had driven by in February when the last pension deposit was made and saw the line stretching down the street. But unlike many seniors who live payment to payment, Herrera said his mother didn’t need the money, so they left.

“However, it’s there,” he said when they returned a month and a half later. “Of course you have to take it.”

The ninth out of 10 income strata, or the second highest, analyzed by the government went from receiving about $4.40 of every $100 in social spending in 2018 to getting about $10 in 2020, said Martínez, the researcher at the humanities, sciences and technologies council.

Martínez said his field work in Chiapas, Mexico’s poorest state, found many people who were not receiving as much money as they had previously under Prospera, but who nevertheless fervently supported López Obrador.

Relatives and friends carry the coffin that contain the remains of man slain in a mass shooting, during a funeral procession in Huitzilac, Mexico, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. The shooting in the mountain township beset by crime just south of Mexico City resulted in several deaths, authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

“I’ve talked with a lot of people in my field work, they feel valued, they feel the president values them, which they didn’t feel before,” Martínez said.

Martínez hypothesizes that the growth in extreme poverty during this administration was due in part to the elimination of Prospera but also the fact that people in extreme poverty tend to work in the informal sector — which would not have benefited equally from the increased minimum wage. Another factor was the COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of families to exhaust their limited savings on health care.

Much of the back-and-forth between López Obrador’s anointed successor Claudia Sheinbaum and the opposition candidate Gálvez has been the president and Sheinbaum insisting that Gálvez will end the social programs if she wins — and Gálvez promising that she won’t. Much of that debate is unnecessary since the pension is now enshrined in the constitution.

Martínez said that even at the current 65 minimum age the program is burning through public funds too rapidly.

“In the short term, it’s a time bomb because it’s going to generate problems because it isn’t fiscally sustainable,” he said.

corruption in mexico essay

Mexico’s presidential race is between two women. So why is everyone talking about one man?

A large crowd in the Zócalo of Mexico City.

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Andrés Manuel López Obrador is not on the ballot in Mexico’s presidential election on Sunday. But he might as well be.

The vote is widely viewed as a referendum on the popular but polarizing president known for pulling millions of Mexicans out of poverty while weakening some of the country’s key institutions, emboldening the military and failing to stem an epidemic of brutal gang violence.

Claudia Sheinbaum, López Obrador’s protege and the former mayor of Mexico City, is heavily favored to win the election — in large part because she has vowed to advance his signature projects, including welfare programs and efforts to reform the judiciary.

Supporters, some carrying signs, welcome Claudia Sheinbaum

Meanwhile her chief opponent, Xóchitl Gálvez, an entrepreneur and former senator who represents an opposition coalition, has sought to tap into resentment among the middle and upper classes against the current president, who is known widely by his initials, AMLO.

“It is all about AMLO,” said Lila Abed, acting director at the Mexico Institute of the Wilson Center think tank in Washington. “I think a lot of people who will vote for [Sheinbaum] will be voting in their minds for him.”

People cheer while listening to former Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum at a rally in Mexico City, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023.

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If Sheinbaum is indeed victorious, Abed said, one issue will loom above all others: “What role, if any, will AMLO play in the next six years? Is he going to be actively involved in the decisions that she makes as president?”

Sheinbaum has dismissed suggestions that López Obrador might control her presidency from behind the scenes as misogynistic.

Claudia Sheinbaum, the protege of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is favored to be elected Mexico's next leader.

In some ways, the heated debates about López Obrador’s record and legacy have overshadowed a more compelling storyline: the near certainty that the next president will be a woman.

That would be a first for Mexico, a traditionally conservative country known for machismo and high rates of violence against women. Women have made major inroads in politics here since a 2019 constitutional reform set quotas requiring gender parity in all elected posts at the federal, state and municipal levels. They now account for about half the Congress.

Sunday’s election is the largest in Mexico’s history. Along with a new president, voters will choose 128 senators, 500 congressional deputies, eight governors and the mayor of Mexico City, along with thousands of local officials. Mexican presidents serve a single six-year term.

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Beyond breaking gender barriers, the election has significant policy implications for both Mexico and the United States.

The two nations share a sometimes turbulent partnership on security concerns such as immigration, organized crime and drug trafficking — all while trade between them approaches $1 trillion a year.

López Obrador has mostly cooperated with Washington on key issues even as he regularly assails its policies and even U.S. culture — denouncing “abusive meddling” and what he regards as U.S. moral decay. Sheinbaum and Gálvez, for their parts, have both pledged to maintain close ties with the United States.

“The two countries are so integrated economically that both know that upsetting it would have very deep consequences,” said Tony Payan, who directs the Center for the U.S. and Mexico at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. “No one wants that to happen.”

The future of U.S.-Mexico relations may depend less on who wins the Mexico election than on the outcome of the U.S. presidential race in November.

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Former President Trump, who has railed against migrants and free trade, once threatened to slap tariffs on Mexican imports if the country did not do more to stop migrants from reaching the U.S. border. López Obrador promptly acquiesced — even as critics accused him of doing Washington’s “dirty work.”

In recent months, Mexico has dispatched troops to turn back migrants from border fences, kick them off northbound freight trains and return them to southern Mexico — often to try again.

But with the 2,000-mile border a major political issue in the United States, experts say that Mexico’s new president will continue to feel intense pressure from Washington to crack down on migrants.

Neither Sheinbaum nor Gálvez have provided much insight on how they might deal with the issue.

Presidential candidate Xóchitl Gálvez holds a campaign rally in Los Reyes la Paz, just outside of Mexico City.

The bigger political challenge for the next Mexican president is how to curb rampant cartel and gang violence. Polls indicated that security is the major concern of voters in Mexico.

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While murders dipped slightly in the last few years, Mexico still has one of the world’s highest homicide rates. It is five times that of the United States.

And those figure don’t include the “disappeared” — mostly victims of gang violence whose ranks have soared to more than 100,000 during López Obrador’s presidency.

A complex patchwork of criminal groups control large parts of Mexico, with many local governments in the pocket of organized crime.

“The cartels need local political allies to operate,” noted Víctor Clark Alfaro, a longtime human rights advocate in the border city of Tijuana. “There’s widespread corruption in local government.”

Mexico’s criminal justice system is largely broken. The vast majority of crimes are never solved.

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López Obrador handed over many security tasks to the military — an admission that police and the civilian justice system were unable to handle the crisis. But experts say that soldiers are ill-equipped to take on civilian law enforcement.

The national election campaign only dramatized the extent of criminal reach in Mexico. At least 31 candidates were assassinated, and attacks on political figures reached record levels.

“Political stability and the future progress of the country depend on the capacity to confront and overcome this wave of political violence,” journalist Yuriria Sierra wrote in Mexico’s Excélsior newspaper.

Apart from feeling domestic pressure to reduce violence, Mexico’s next president is also likely to face amped-up demands from Washington to rein in cartels’ drug-smuggling operations — especially the trafficking of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid blamed for tens of thousands of U.S. deaths a year.

U.S. lawmakers have expressed increasing frustration with what they view as an inadequate response from the López Obrador administration, which has also limited U.S. drug agents’ access to Mexico.

Men carry the coffin of one of the 12 people killed on a ranch at a pre-Christmas party by gunmen last December 17 during his funeral in the town of Salvatierra, Guanajuato State, Mexico, on December 19, 2023. About 100 young people had gathered for a "posada" - a religious Christmas gathering - when the assault unfolded. (Photo by MARIO ARMAS / AFP) (Photo by MARIO ARMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

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“Mutual trust between the United States and Mexico has deteriorated in recent years,” said Abed of the Wilson Center. “Security cooperation has deteriorated. There is going to have to be a rebuilding of mutual trust.”

Vowing to reduce violence, Sheinbaum has spoken of policies such as expanding police and National Guard training, improving law enforcement intelligence-gathering capabilities and providing educational opportunities for youths to dissuade them from joining organized crime.

“Where should our kids be — in the street or in school?” Sheinbaum asked supporters in her campaign-closing speech on Wednesday in Mexico City’s historic Zócalo, or central square.

It sounded a lot like López Obrador’s “Hugs not bullets” strategy — attacking the root causes of crime instead of trying to take down cartel kingpins.

Gálvez, the opposition presidential hopeful, has vowed “no more hugs” for criminals. But she too has provided few specifics to back up her reassuring vows to make violence go away.

 Xóchitl Gálvez waves from a stage before a banner with her image

“I propose returning peace and tranquility to your families,” Gálvez told a crowd in her closing campaign rally in the northern city of Monterrey.

The near daily accounts of murders and mayhem clash with an alternative national vision: Mexico as a growing hub for international businesses keen to relocate operations from Asia or Europe to be closer to U.S. markets — a phenomenon known as near-shoring.

“Right now Mexico has a huge opportunity on its hands with the near-shoring movement, with its increased place as a trade hub in the global economy,” said Falko Ernst, a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit research group.

But he said its full potential may not be realized “if you don’t find ways to contain the slide of Mexico into violent chaos.”

Special correspondent Cecilia Sánchez Vidal contributed to this report.

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Foreign correspondent Patrick J. McDonnell is the Los Angeles Times Mexico City bureau chief and previously headed Times bureaus in Beirut, Buenos Aires and Baghdad. A native of the Bronx, McDonnell is a graduate of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and was a Nieman fellow at Harvard.

corruption in mexico essay

Kate Linthicum is a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times based in Mexico City.

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Corruption in Mexico

Corruption in Mexico


It is hard to analyze many of the jobs presently traveling on in Mexico without the word “corruption” being thrown around. It is assumed that most authorities functionaries. Judgess. and police officers are on the return. either from each other. the public. or drug trusts. How has corruptness become such an deep-rooted portion of Mexican society. and why is it so hard – if non impossible – to stomp out?

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In colonial times. the purchasing and merchandising of indulgences. of public offices and rubrics. military ranks trafficking. arrogation of goods. were day-to-day pattern. All these occur between affluent households and of class. all people linked with the Spanish Crown.

Rulers. civilians and ecclesiastical ever were seeking to advantage complexnesss of bureaucratic construction to do big lucks and got expensive belongingss.

After independency. the system continued because administrative officials needed some manner to do up for the deficits in their incomes from little revenue enhancement grosss.

“In most instances at that place merely wasn’t adequate money to pay for the services people needed. so corruptness developed as a agency of raising gross. although it has ever been more than a manner of funding authorities operations. ”

**In modern Mexico. this system attempts to guarantee that services are rendered to certain people. As in colonial times. it besides attempts to do up the deficit in wages. Mexican authorities functionaries say that corruptness is about a necessity in Mexico to keep order and stableness. It is seen as a manner of life. Equally long as most people feel they are acquiring their portion – even if it is through corrupt agencies – so it keeps the multitudes happy.

Another angle of corruptness in Mexico is the awful “silver or lead. ” meant as take the payoff or take the slug. This is a signifier of corruptness encouraged by fright. as opposed to societal credence or economic endurance. Many constabulary officers in Mexico are corrupt because they or their households are physically threatened by drug trafficking organisation ( DTO ) members.


1 Bureaucrats needed some manner to do up for the deficits in their incomes from little revenue enhancement grosss. 2 Many constabularies officers in Mexico are corrupt because they or their households are physically threatened by drug trafficking organisation ( DTO ) members.

Why it hasn’t been solved so far

So how does the disposal. which is so committed to cleansing Mexico of this endemic corruptness. carry through this end? The sad fact is. it can’t. Mexico is up against approximately 500 old ages of history ingrained into his people. It besides has two other major things working against it: the economic system and an organized offense crisis.

**If the mean Mexican citizen could do a just life by populating reasonably. so corruptness wouldn’t be seen as necessary. While corruptness exists in the United States ( and every state. for that affair ) . it exists to a much smaller extent because public retainers – for the most portion – earn a just wage with which they can do a life.

The Mexican economic system is the 12th largest in the universe. but the state has an highly high rate of underemployment. and most people do non gain what Americans would name just wages for their work. Unless economic conditions in Mexico better. the economic challenge to extinguishing corruptness will stay.

1. Mexico needs to implement powerful institutional solutions that change the inducement equation for authorities functionaries. Specifically. it should make a new. to the full independent and well-funded anti-corruption committee to work closely with civil society to supervise. investigate and catch error by public retainers. 2. The instruction in Mexico is a really of import point in the corruptness job. if we have an ethical and moral civilization. we would hold a honest and crystalline state. 3. This is a work for all the Mexicans.

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Article “Corruption” By Shleifer and Vishny

In the paper define government corruption as 'the sale by government officials of government property for personal gain' (1993). This can vary from government officials accepting bribes from private agents in exchange for a permit to prohibiting the entry of competition into the market. As explained by the two authors, corruption can slow down the

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Internal messages show how the new head of one of the world’s oldest universities organized a citation cartel

For years, professor juan manuel corchado demanded that his collaborators include up to 20 references to his own work in their papers. on friday he took office as the new rector of salamanca university in spain.

Juan Manuel Corchado

Three years ago, Juan Manuel Corchado boasted of being the fourth best scientist in Spain and one of the 250 best on the planet in the field of computing, but he achieved this brilliant rise in the rankings by cheating on an industrial scale. The academic official, who has just been appointed rector of the University of Salamanca (the equivalent of university president in the U.S.), became one of the most cited scientists in the world because, among other fraudulent practices, he organized what is known as a citation cartel: a group of scientists colluding to cite one another in their papers. EL PAÍS has had access to internal messages from Corchado’s group that reveal their bad practices.

Their tricks are so crude that anyone who takes a look can easily spot them. In science, references included at the end of papers work like currency. The more other scientists cite you in their work, the greater your prestige, which leads to promotions, salary increases and even million-dollar projects. Corchado is quoted a lot, but only by a few close collaborators. On January 9, 2019, the mathematician Roberto Casado Vara signed a paper on computer security in electrical distribution networks, and 94% of the references (29 out of 31) were citations of Corchado’s work, even if it had nothing to do with the paper’s subject matter: the references included studies on the risk of bladder cancer, CO₂ in the ocean, oil spills, and red tides of microalgae.

For years, Corchado has been instructing his workers to include in each publication references to himself or to the journal that he edits: Advances in Distributed Computing and Artificial Intelligence Journal ( ADCAIJ ). In this way he falsified his own scientific impact and that of his journal in the rankings. On June 7, 2017, one of Corchado’s assistants wrote this message to her subordinates: “Collect everything you have (master’s thesis, final projects, dissertations, etc.) and include in them 20 references from among those that I have attached in the Word document as well as 10 articles from ADCAIJ. ” The attached file included almost 50 Corchado publications. The aide later insisted: “As I know that we are all working hard now, to make it easier, I am attaching the references to just copy and paste.”

Similar messages were constant. On July 26, 2017, a different aide wrote to the group: “Hello everyone. Please, Juan Manuel tells me that we should reference these articles of his in the next papers that we send to magazines or conferences. I’ve attached the list here, don’t forget to add some.” Next, she attached a list of Corchado’s works, headed by one about oil spills.

On January 9, 2019, Roberto Casado Vara published three papers in which between 97% and 100% of his references cited Corchado or ADCAIJ . Corchado, born in Salamanca 53 years ago, is one of the most cited scientists in the world according to Stanford University’s annual list. The most surprising thing is that Casado Vara, who is much younger, also entered that prestigious classification in 2022, just three years after defending his doctoral dissertation with Corchado as his research supervisor . This newspaper has asked both about these practices, without receiving a response.

The messages were often multitudinous. On February 1, 2018, the instructions from one of the assistants was: “Corchado has asked me to tell you to cite articles from ADCAIJ when you write your articles, whatever they are (conferences, master’s final projects, magazine articles, etc.). On March 12, 2018, one of the professor’s closest collaborators sent an email message to 40 people with instructions to manipulate publications from recent conferences organized by themselves: “We will tell you this week what acknowledgments, references and final authors you have to upload in the Camera_ready [print-ready] versions.” Corchado was in copy in all these messages. Dozens of the recipients, many of whom felt coerced, ended up leaving the group.

The mathematician Roberto Casado Vara authored a publication on computer security in electrical distribution networks, in which 94% of the references (29 out of 31) are citations to works by Corchado, including some on cancer and ocean CO₂.

The professor used the conference records published by the Springer publishing house as a way to include strings of self-quotes. Informed by this newspaper, Springer Nature’s Research Integrity Director, Chris Graf , stated that they are going to “very carefully” examine the case of the Salamanca professor. “If appropriate, we will take editorial action once this investigation has concluded,” Graf said. Another publisher, Elsevier, has already retracted a study published by Corchado and three collaborators in 2019 for plagiarizing a master’s thesis.

The researcher cheated in different ways to rig various rankings. He published documents full of self-citations in the scientific repository of the University of Salamanca, so that they would be indexed by the Google Scholar search engine, which in turn feeds rankings such as Guide2Research, in which Corchado was close to the top position at the national level. “Occupying fourth place in Spain and 247th worldwide fills me with pride, as it represents the good work we are doing as a group,” he posted on May 25, 2021 on his social media accounts. Corchado once published a single paragraph with 227 self-quotes and another 139 references to his magazine ADCAIJ .

After EL PAÍS began publishing news stories about his practices in March, the Spanish Research Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Corchado, as announced on Friday, May 17, by the Ministry of Science. That same day, Corchado used the official channel of the University of Salamanca to issue an unsigned statement , at 10:22 p.m., in which he defended his “honorability and scientific integrity” and encouraged people to assess the impact of his publications in two of the databases most widely used by the scientific community: Scopus, from the Dutch publisher Elsevier, and Web of Science, from the London multinational Clarivate.

An analysis of who cites Corchado in Scopus reveals that in only 75 publications, his collaborators mentioned the Salamanca professor almost 1,700 times and referenced his magazine ADCAIJ 520 times. One of these papers is signed by Pedro Tomás Nevado-Batalla , who teaches law at the University of Salamanca and is a former regional government official of the Spanish region of Extremadura, where he served under a Popular Party (PP) administration. In his study, which dealt with the need to modernize public administration, there were 42 citations to Corchado’s work and seven to ADCAIJ , including studies on bladder cancer, oil spills and microalgae tides. Fully 92% of the citations in that paper are to Corchado’s work or else to his magazine. Nevado-Batalla has stated that he was unaware that these references had been added to his work, and said that he is going to request clarification. “There must necessarily be some explanation for something so extravagant as this,” he said.

Juan Manuel Corchado

The mathematician Domingo Docampo , former rector of the University of Vigo and an expert in citation cartels , expresses indignation. “It is petty and despicable. “They are insubstantial publications, without any real content, that constitute vehicles for citations in a network that clearly shows the pyramidal nature of a citation farm headed by someone who has influence over those who sign the papers,” he laments. “Corchado should never have run for a position of this category, to represent an institution as prestigious as the University of Salamanca,” he says about an institution that was founded in 1218.

The solemn inauguration ceremony of the new rector took place on Friday at the university auditorium. Corchado won the elections on May 7, after taking advantage of the strange surprise resignation of the previous rector, and presenting himself as the only candidate. He received the support of 6.5% of the 33,000 university members who were called to vote, with half of the faculty voting blank as a sign of protest. In 2018, the professor created the AIR Institute , a private entity that manages projects worth millions of euros awarded by the regional government of Castilla y León.

Docampo urges the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, academic authorities and individuals responsible for scientific journals to take action. “We have a serious problem. We must protect the careers of the youngest students, who can be contaminated. This is happening worldwide ,” he warns.

The epidemiologist Alberto Ruano , an expert in scientific misconduct, is adamant: “This is a textbook case of a citation cartel.” Ruano, a professor at the University of Santiago de Compostela, also urges Corchado to resign. “It is likely that he will have to resign, because he is damaging the institution he represents, a damage that affects the credibility of the University of Salamanca and is also affecting all Spanish university professors,” says the epidemiologist, who urges the Ministry and the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities (CRUE) to take measures to avoid cases like this one.

This is a textbook case of a citation cartel Alberto Ruano, professor at University of Santiago de Compostela

In addition to adding thousands of self-citations to his own publications and requiring his workers to also cite him, Corchado has benefited from a multitude of false online accounts of non-existent scientists, such as Devika Rout and Marcus Ress , dedicated to compulsively mentioning Corchado’s studies in the ResearchGate repository. Since March, Corchado has carried out a massive deletion of these fraudulent profiles, and he has also deleted the publications with obvious tricks that he had uploaded to the Gredos scientific repository of the University of Salamanca.

Since April 23, Corchado has denied multiple requests from EL PAÍS to explain his practices, but on March 13 he did grant an interview to this newspaper. In that telephone conversation, the professor from Salamanca stated that there were “20 or 30” false online accounts dedicated to citing him and, in just two minutes, he offered two contradictory explanations : that they had been created by former disgruntled workers to harm him, and that “a young man” had created them to demonstrate that ResearchGate could be rigged. Next, Corchado assured that he had deleted those profiles thanks to his knowledge in cybersecurity. A ResearchGate spokesperson, however, explained that they are not aware of any computer attack and that only the creator of a profile can delete it with their password.

One of the international leaders in scientific evaluation methods, Ismael Ràfols , points to the system. “This corruption occurs because there is an evaluation system that values publishing a lot and being cited often. In Europe we have started a reform process and Spain still has a lot of work ahead of it,” says Ràfols, from the University of Leiden (Netherlands).

The watchdog agency of the Spanish university system is the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA), directed for a year now by a new director, Pilar Paneque , who is promoting changes to stop measuring researchers based on production volume. “ANECA is going in the right direction, but it faces resistance from traditional professors who have reached the top, like this man. The Corchado case is like a parody, and it shows that it is necessary to reform the evaluation system that generates the corruption,” says Ràfols.

Pilar Paneque herself believes that her reforms will discourage bad practices and reduce pressure on researchers, especially the younger ones. “We have a lot of progress to make towards scientific integrity and ethics in research, and everything has to start with the commitment and control of each institution. Every university knows perfectly well what each of its researchers produces and can easily detect any type of anomalous behavior,” says Paneque. In the case of Corchado, Friday was his coronation as rector of the University of Salamanca.

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More information

Juan Manuel Corchado (center), with two members of his candidacy for rector: Bertha Gutiérrez, president of the ethics committee, and Federico Bueno.

The seven lies of the AI expert who cited himself thousands of times on scientific papers

Juan Manuel Corchado

The aspiring university rector who wrote a four-paragraph paper and cited himself 100 times

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