This upcoming week is crucial for the Mexican Senate to come up with a final draft of the Anti-corruption Bill it will be sending to the Chamber of Deputies for consideration.
Surely this is a bill nobody in government wants. The reticence of some political parties to come up with a stiff set of regulations sanctioning corrupt acts is as clear as pure water.
This past week the coalition of the Institutional Revolutionary (PRI) and the Green (PVEM) parties openly opposed the drafting of the bill and walked away from the Senate floor and were absent from negotiations for two days in a row.
It is needless to repeat that PRI and PVEM are the two parties that accumulate the largest amount of corruption accusations. Their unexplained absenteeism definitely raises questions among other legislators.
In fact, Senate leader Miguel Barbosa of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) warned the rest of the political organizations that if PRI and PVEM come up with a different version of the bill “most likely they will be spitting on our faces.”
The Senate has an April 30 deadline to finish the bill but the PRI-PVEM opposition and literally open filibustering actions — like not showing up for discussion — is definitely not a good sign. Most likely the bill will not be ready even if “by law” it must be approved by the Senate punctually on deadline and the Chamber of Deputies must have it voted on no later than May 28.
These deadlines are not arbitrary. They were negotiated a year ago by the Senate and agreed upon, but what is suspicious, not to mention fishy, is the attitude PRI-PVEM have taken toward coming up with a document everyone agrees with.
The recent participation by over 600,000 voters demanded that the three by three clauses be included in the bill along with around 15 other limitations on the exercise of power both by elected and appointed government officials. The law also affects private individuals doing business with the government.
To sum up, the three by three proposition asks that all officials file an honest and true document of their wealth and possessions, a narrative of their vested interests, and a tax payment return.
In theory it doesn’t sound like much but in practice these three demands will make sure that there is transparency in their actions and avoid crooked transactions and kickbacks in handling (or mishandling) of government funds.
The reticence at accepting transparency regulation exists because up until now all previous attempts at preventing corruption have not worked. Stealing from the government has become a customary act and seeing government officials go from rags to riches without owning a business has become in Mexico a common form of cynicism as well as cronyism, as most acts of corruption are carried out jointly by governmental departments with everyone covering up for the other.
Another fear that surely sends shivers down the spine of the corrupt is that once the law goes into effect, it will be implemented and those caught in the act will be severed from the government and punished accordingly.
Just what will happen this week remains to be seen but the nation as a whole is weary of dishonest behavior.
And a most interesting behavior to keep an eye on will be the one the PRI-PVEM political coalition keeps and seeing if they try to pigeonhole the entire Anti-corruption bill.