A tug of war is going on in the Mexican Senate over the still pending Anti-Corruption bill.
At first the senators alleged they’d approve it during an extraordinary period, but now rumor has it that there will be no such thing and that the Anti-Corruption bill will be shelved, at least for now.
The Senate should have approved the seven secondary laws to rule over the new government branch, the National Anti-Corruption System.
The problem is both ethical and political as President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its subsidized crony Green Party (PVEM) are the main opponents as they fear that implementing the “three by three” which forces all government officials to file three documents regarding their finances. Those documents include a list of all properties the official owns at the time of being sworn in into office, his or her vested interests and, mainly, a tax return.
The so-called “extraordinary period” was going to be held around this time to have the piece of legislation ready for May 28, but obviously that will not happen. Others were hoping that the “extraordinary period” would be held after the June 5 elections to avoid influencing the vote in 12 states. That may still happen, but it remains to be seen.
What the PRI-PVEM coalition fears is what it calls the “maximum publicity” resulting from the filing of financial statements and tax returns. We all know that in Mexico, the politicians’ favorite sport has been precisely evading taxes, and public information would bring about “maximum publicity” indeed.
While the PRI-PVEM coalition is against passing this bill, both the National Action (PAN) and Democratic Revolution (PRD) parties are pushing for it.
PRD Senate leader Miguel Barbosa says the bill is ready to be approved. The problem, he keeps repeating, is the PRI-PVEM coalition.
“The anti-corruption theme makes the PRI look bad” he says. “But its reputation for being corrupt is well deserved.”
One outstanding issue that makes passing this law even more uncomfortable is the fact that it was not in the original plan sent to Congress by President Enrique Peña Nieto. And that is the one aggregate sent to the senators by several nongovernment organizations which conceived the “three by three” filings.
The NGOs sent their proposal to the Senate accompanied by 634,000 signatures from registered voters last March.
Among many motives for not wanting to make their fortunes public is that indeed they would have to answer for possible previously committed acts of corruption.
Others say that it would be dangerous to their persons to make public their bank account numbers, their cash, their real income and all their properties, as the bill demands be done.
This, opponents claim, would make all officials an easy target for organized criminals if their accounts are made public.
One senator was quoted as complaining that the Anti-Corruption bill would create family problems for him because besides his home, he would have to register “la casa chica,” as macho Mexicans call the place where they keep a “second front,” namely a mistress.
Whether right or wrong, what many a politician fears from this law is that it will profoundly affect their private life as well as their physical wellbeing.
Among suggestions made by senators during discussions was that of PVEM president Carlos Puente who gave the go-ahead to approve the law but to challenge it immediately in court and get rid of it.
Deep down the PRI-PVEM coalition is up against the wall because never before in Mexican history have the voters pressured so hard as they are doing now.
Nevertheless, they have nowhere to go as the other political parties are pressuring to pass this law, which would bring an end to the shameless acts of corruption politicians commit every day.
Yet, the Anti-Corruption bill will be, someday, approved.