There is no question in the minds of jurists that “important advances” have been achieved with the final approval last Wednesday of the General Law of the National Anti-Corruption System.
Yet there is also the disappointment that the law was “shaven” to protect those who are the main suspects of corrupt activities involving tax payer funding for the government. In fact, it awards them a carte blanche to continue with under the counter corruption activities with public funds.
We must remember that to influence the writing of this law, several non-government organizations (NGOs) sent a plea to both houses of Congress to include regulations in the National Anti-Corruption System to the so-called “Three Out of Three” clause, that force all public officials to file — for the sake of transparency — a patrimonial ownership statement, a tax return and the official’s conflicts of interest.
To be precise, the NGOs with “Three Out of Three” propositions have 634,143 registered voters who want to know how much the wheeling-and-dealing officials — both elected and appointed — make and if they feather their own nests.
The proposition seemingly offended the “unquestionable reputation” of many a Mexican politicos. In particular President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) resented, perhaps not presenting the three demands but, making them public.
In this column it’s been described before how Senate PRI leader Emilio Gamboa publicly declared that these demands were “a witch hunt” and fought to keep the “Three Out of Three” issue out of the agenda, literally going against the voice of the people.
We’ve also described how Senator Gamboa, backed by the Green (PVEM) and New Alliance Party (Panal) partners (for the sake of objectivity I’m avoiding the word cronies) surreptitiously skipped the chapter that demands that all those dealing with the government — whether corporations or those who receive palliative subsidy poverty handouts — report their earnings at the last minute of the previous voting.
This part, known as Article 32 of the National Anti-Corruption System Law, hit the wrong note and proponents of the “Three Out of Three” demands even protested at the Angel of Independence on Paseo de la Reforma. They were, for the most part, business organization leaders who saw that Senator Gamboa and his law writers had exceeded themselves.
President Peña Nieto met with the business leaders and vetoed Article 32 and sent it back to both houses of Congress, which finally threw it out and kept private citizens from having to file the “Three Out of Three” documentation.
Yet Senator Gamboa, a master at constitutional balderdash, managed to avoid the people’s demand of transparency by not making politicians’ statements public.
What all this shows is the way Mexican politicians and legislators understand the battle against corruption. The voting majority formed by three political parties understand it, and without showing their faces, they perhaps preserve the right for under-the-counter dealings to continue forever.
In the eyes of most people unhappy with what Congress wrought as the new transparency laws, President Enrique Peña Nieto was always behind avoiding the “Three Out of Three” clause and finally got away with keeping secret dealings undisclosed.
The general outcry is that “they will pay at the polls” in the next presidential election, now only two years in the future.
All people were asking for was for a simple way for public officials and those doing big business with the government to show transparent behavior. The approving political parties opted for the continuity of hazy behavior in line with President Peña Nieto’s view that “corruption is a cultural thing in Mexico.”
It’s no wonder the President and his PRI continue to lose popularity and continue to reinforce people’s view of their perennial fame as a corrupt political institution.
And for sure, there will be no witch hunt!