The year that is about to end was historical at least in one way. Non-governmental organizations (NGO) launched a crusade to stop acts of corruption committed in a consuetudinary way by bureaucrats and elected officials.
Since Feb. 2 the NGOs began a campaign to force both houses of Congress to make it obligatory for upper level government officials to present a statement telling about their wealth. At first it was believed that the organizers would not be able to gather the 120,000 signatures needed to have deputies and senators to discuss and approve a National Anticorruption System to bring thieving politicians under control. The bill became popular as the “3 Out of 3 Law” which was to force officials to present their financial situation in terms of properties, vested interests and tax fulfillment.
In reality neither the Chamber of Deputies nor the Senate wanted to discuss it because if honestly presented – and that was the idea from the NGOs – elected officials make themselves vulnerable to organized crime and worse.
By April the NGOs presented the signatures not of 120,000 concerned citizens who demanded honesty in government and a tight control of politicians, but delivered several cardboard boxes containing 630,000 signatures from active voters.
Congress had no choice but to accept the bill for discussion about more things than the proposal demands. The bill called for the creation or revamping of existing laws and demanded seven things.
Both Houses of Congress had no choice but to discuss and approve the bill presented by the citizenry. In fact, the law had to be voted twice as during the first voting they noticed that all the people who received government funds had to present their three documents which was deemed then as administratively unviable given the amount of people who receive government funds.
An executive veto by President Enrique Peña Nieto changed this part of the bill and at the same time it set protection guidelines of the persons making their official statements of their privacy and physical safety.
The approval of the bill did not come until June 17, nearly two weeks after the June 5 governor elections in 11 states of the nation.
The SNA bill that will go into effect next week is unique in many ways. First, it was drafted by private citizens and not by professional politicians and a unique feature is that it will be run by a group to be called Committee for Citizenry Participation (CPC) who will oversee several courts in charge of processing the different cases brought upon them. The CPC is a huge victory for the people because it will allow them to direct the struggle against that scourge within the Mexican government called corruption. Participants in the five-member CPC will be able, and have the power and budget, to guarantee that the National Anticorruption System is working well.
In 2017 the names of the citizens who will be running this new organization will be made public. A committee was formed last Oct. 18 and the CPC will have the power to appoint the five members who will oversee the honest functioning of this new legal system. They will be selected from a list of 59 persons who signed up to be taken into consideration by the CPC members. All details of this new bill are available at www.comisionsna.mx.
Of course, it will be most interesting to watch if the National Anticorruption System actually works, as it is clear that the favorite pastime of many a politician is getting bribes and kickbacks for a myriad of bureaucratic clearance of red tape.
But at least it is a worthwhile try to eliminate corruption out of the heart of Mexico’s governing body.