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Feature 042516 Pazos

Monday, April 25, 2016

Why the PRI is Impeding Mexico's Fight against Corruption

Luis Pazos

In May of last year, 14 constitutional articles were amended to institutionalize Mexico's fight against corruption at all levels of government. Yet now, one year since the enactment of those reforms by the President of the Republic, adoption of secondary laws that are indispensable for a legal framework to effectively fight corruption continues to be held back. 

According to the director of the Superior Audit of the Federation (ASF), of the 656 acts of corruption criminally charged by the agency from 1998 to 2015, only 19 – less than 3% – have been brought before authorities. The impunity rate is 97%. 

Most of the complaints are stalled in the PGR (office of the Attorney General of the Republic). One of the reasons for the failure in the struggle against corruption is that the majority of these submitted cases violate the legal principle that "one cannot be judge and an interested party." A subordinate of the president must not investigate the president, nor should one appointed by a governor investigate the governor.

In states, investigations of the siphoning off of public resources are done by state prosecutors or district attorneys chosen by the governor of the state or its congress, where its majority is controlled by the governor. The lootings in several states, documented by the ASF, have gone unpunished. Several governors boast privately, away from visible microphones that could leave proof, that the current federal government can do nothing to them because part of the money they "took" from the state treasury or collected from suppliers – even organized crime – was given to PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) candidates in state and federal election campaigns.

It is not advantageous to the PRI for an autonomous agency, like the ASF – which is closer to congress than to the executive, to have the competence to bring acts of corruption by officials before judges without passing through the public ministries that are part of the federal or state executive powers. If the ASF filed directly to judges, a competence that it should be given, several governors who financed the return to power of the PRI could go to jail.

The PRI does not support laws that speed up corruption cases. They prefer, through sophistry, orders, or official requests that they control, to continue to guarantee impunity to former governors, like the Coahuila governor*, the electoral sponsor of the PRI with money from the state treasury.


* note: The reference is obviously to Humberto Moreira, who was governor of Coahuila from 2005 to 2011; and president of the PRI from March 4 to December 2, 2011.  The PRI regained the presidency in 2012.


Luis Pazos (e-mail:, who heads the Free Enterprise Research Center (CISLE) in Mexico City, holds a master's degree in Public Finance and a doctorate in Law from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).  A prolific writer and forethoughtful analyst, Dr. Pazos' commentaries on Mexican economics, finance and politics have appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the Americas.  As well, he is the author of numerous books.  Edited translation by

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