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Stringency against corruption

Corruption is the second major issue in Mexico and stringent measures need to be taken to fight it
File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
14/08/2017
09:00
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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Corruption is the second issue that worries Mexican people the most; it's even higher than unemployment and poverty – insecurity is first, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI). Thus, international reports reflect this situation. The Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 prepared by Transparency International, analyzed more than 170 countries and placed Mexico on number 123 after we were number 95 last year. Among all the nations part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the last place is for Mexico.

Civil society began a crusade to fight this problem, which was the key to set in motion the National Anti-Corruption System (SNA). Even if the operation of this framework is still in its initial phase and its structure is incomplete, it's the first step in seeing a real change in the incidences of corruption cases.

Unfortunately, corruption isn't limited to former governor and public servant scandals, accused of mismanaging public resources – it's the bane of the existence of ordinary people. According to the INEGI, the Mexican populace also perceives corruption in public security authorities, during proceedings with the Public Ministry, courts, or hearings, and when submitting the paperwork to establish a business.

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, the magistrate presiding over the Federal Court of Administrative Justice – organism in charge of judging corruption cases – pointed out the ideal goal: to develop a conduct or culture that doesn't lead to sanctions, because civil servants act pursuant to the law. “Effectively sanctioning a civil servant won't discourage others from doing the same,” he said.

It's a certainty that corruption among civil servants will never be zero, but the country cannot allow recording the high numbers we are currently seeing.

While prevention programs begin to bear fruit, the option left to the country is to become more stringent with the lawful sanctions to those who have used their public positions to steal public resources. Impunity will do nothing except encourage the problem.

The Odebrecht case, which shed more light yesterday on Mexico's involvement, has to be one of the first proofs that the fight against corruption is taken seriously and that the SNA is the adequate organism we can trust to prevent, investigate and punish mismanagements from public administration.

The fight against the dubious use of public money will take time, and will require defeating strong opposition. Critics and demands of civil groups should have to be the invaluable incentives if we want prompt results.

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