By law, the National Anti-corruption System (SNA) went into effect July 19, but in practice the idea of persecuting and prosecuting corrupt politicians and cohorts continues to be in limbo.
The reason why is simple. The Mexican Senate opted for not naming citizens to fill up the post of anti-corruption fiscal — a position that is to last for nine years — as well as judges who will be overseeing all cases of politicians charged with corruption. No fiscal, no judges, no SNA.
Deep down, people who want to straighten up the nation’s politicos feel betrayed because many non-government organizations (NGOs) have strived to have a powerful political court to supervise crooks in government and tank them if necessary.
One of them is Juan Francisco Torres Landa, who is secretary general of an NGO with a large following called Mexico United Against Crime, which is decrying the fact that the Senate failed to appoint an anti-corruption czar and judges.
“We are facing new palpable evidence in which the nation’s political class is simply aloof from that which serves the nation best and they want to manipulate something as important as the SNA. The result is the growing lack of faith in them and the fact that they don’t the least amount of respect for their own legislative work and the formal birth of the SNA, which is now victim of a treacherous interruption.”
“Now that it is unfortunately fashionable, we’re facing another sinkhole, deep and wide, in which we can see a black hole full of contempt to the historical dateline the Senate opted for forgetting.”
“The bottom down question is what it takes for the political class to stop behaving in such a miserable way. This demand is directed at the president, because his party [Institutional Revolutionary Party] controls up to a great measure what is done in the legislative branch. (It would be a fantasy to think of the independence of PRI legislators). But the same criticism goes for all the other political parties who in one way or another are accomplices to this atrocity.”
I am quoting only one person who foresaw that today we would have an SNA, but other NGO leaders like Edna Jaime Treviño, head of Mexico Evaluates, considers not appointing the czar and judges as “extremely grave, preoccupying” and that the SNA will start to work without a “head” which “strips the SNA from legitimacy in a task that is extremely important of attacking the cases of corruption, because that will be the person who will be investigating and dismantling all corruption networks.”
The man currently at the helm of the SNA, Fernando Alcázar, whose present job is to oversee the SNA implementation says that the SNA works “can’t stop now because there is a legal mandate demanding it and “what’s going to happen is that it will operate with deficiencies.”
Alcázar joins the club of those lamenting that the senators “did not fulfill their legal obligation, having as a result an incomplete system.”
There’s debate as to whether the SNA can operate without anyone at the helm. The dean of the think tank Economic Development Pedagogy Institute (CIDE) Sergio López Avillon thinks the system can work without a czar since the “current structure allows for the persecution and criminal action against public officials who might incur in corrupt acts.”
Juan Ernesto Pardinas, director of the Mexican Competitiveness Institute (IMCO) and one of the leading promoters of the 3×3 clause forcing officials to declare their fortune, properties and vested interests, somewhat agrees but the real issue now is a bit different. “There are those who wrongly think the SNA cannot operate without a czar but the most important discussion now should be the transition from the Attorney General into what is the General Fiscal of the Republic.”
Yet the gist of the general outcry is against the failure of the Senate to convene for an extra-ordinary period to discuss and approve the appointment of the person who will lead the SNA.
The Senate will now reconvene Sept. 1, but all indications are that the SNA czar will be appointed “probably at the end of the year.”
This is seen as a green light to crooked politicians now stealing to continue and grab as much as they can, because there is no watch dog to bark at them, much the less take them to court and put them in jail.