How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Mexico: A Primer

Two new scandals have shocked Mexicans in recent weeks, no mean feat in a country that has known its fair share of corruption. If only political corruption were a medal event in the Olympics…

First, the leader of the PRI in Mexico City was charged with pimping.  seriously!  He stands “accused of hiring women for sex and putting them on the party payroll.”

Second, a secretly recorded conversation shows that Mexican congresspeople are routinely using federal money as a way to blackmail mayors.  According to the article, the Congress has been relatively untouched by corruption scandals, at least compared to other institutions.  This might be just an issue of transparency though.  I thought it was funny that Barbara Botello, mayor of Leon and head of the Mexican association of mayors, reacted in this way:  “It’s unprecedented for something like this to come out into the open.”  Not that it’s unprecedented for something like this to happen, just for it to be publicly known.  Nice.

The whole thing unfolded when the mayor of Celaya informed his staff that “congressmen were requiring him to inflate a paving contract by 35 percent in exchange for $12.2 million in federal public works money…[and]…they demanded he go with the contractor of their choice.”  One of his staff recorded the talk and then leaked it to Reforma, one of the largest newspapers in Mexico.

From the mayors that have come forward so far, it’s alleged that “senators and congressmen routinely skim off the top of federal funds they allot to cities, money that can add up to three-quarters of the budget for local jurisdictions.”  Hence the “filthy rich” in the title of this post.

Botello goes on to say that many more mayors have faced this pressure/extortion, but are afraid to come forward.  She notes “Many are afraid of reprisals, of their federal funding going down.”





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