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Opinion
Ricardo Castillo
Ricardo Castillo Voters Don’t Forget A problem that seems eternal in Mexico is that for the most part crooked politicians are never punished even if they are guilty as sin of corruption charges
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The most outstanding moment in this year’s Mexican politics was no doubt the June 5 elections, when President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was portentously shellacked at the polls losing seven out of a total of 11 governor elections to the conservative National Action Party (PAN).

After the election, it became clear that the President’s PRI (he does not run the party, he owns it) was full of rotten apples giving the impression that, while several of the governors stole public funds at will, the President was looking the other way.

The most notorious losses were those in the states of Veracruz, Chihuahua and Quintana Roo, in that order. And like it has happened before, as Mexico enjoys a fair electoral system since 1997, the votes PAN got were not for PAN but against PRI as in those states outgoing PRI governors sacked the state coffers leaving behind huge debts and an irate population who saw how the governors were outright stealing their tax money.

In fact, Veracruz former governor Javier Duarte is now being sought by the Attorney General’s Office (PGR), who has enough evidence to put him away in the slammer for many years. But he disappeared and allegedly nobody knows his whereabouts. The question everyone is asking is if Duarte is getting protection from above as there was plenty of time and evidence to arrest him prior to his going on the lam.

Please don’t think that the PRI has an exclusive right to have corrupt politicos. In the state of Sonora, the PRI won the election and the PAN lost it exactly for the same reasons. Former governor Guillermo Padrés used the governor’s post to enrich himself. He went as far as stealing a river by building a dam to benefit a ranch his family still owns.

When charged, Padrés too went on the lam but his party demanded that he show up and face charges. He showed up at the PGR headquarters to face the many fraud charges and he’s now in the slammer. But he is the only one imprisoned nowadays and his case can be considered an exception.

What is a fact is that in all cases the now former governors, in jail or running from justice, conceived complicated schemes (scams?) of financial engineering to clean up their acts which had worked before for some former governors, namely Humberto Moreira in Coahuila and Rodrigo Medina in Nuevo León, the first one accused of a 36 billion peso fraud ($1,744 million) and Medina is now facing charges for approximately a 9 billion peso fraud. Both are enjoying their freedom and their ill- gotten fortunes.

A problem that seems eternal in Mexico is that for the most part crooked politicians are never punished even if they are guilty as sin of corruption charges. The list of nowadays filthy rich former politicians is a very long one and given the fact that corruption “is a cultural thing” (as put by President Peña Nieto) their crimes while in power are quickly forgotten, though not forgiven, as in their corrupt acts they have trampled state government into bankruptcy, as is the case in the state of Veracruz.

About the only place where people can take revenge is at the polls but in the end ousting a political party from power does not return the stolen money. But it is a consolation and a sign to mainly PRI politicians that voters expect honesty from them.

Is that such a difficult feat? Obviously, it is.

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