Mexico is pointed out as the second most corrupt country in the world, despite López Obrador's speech

Although President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that Mexico "has put an end to corruption and official banditry and will not accept influence", the shadow that has cast over the country still remains.

Scandals involving high-ranking officials such as García Luna, Rosario Robles, Emilio Lozoya, Javier Duarte, among others, have pitted former presidents against each other, who have also been indicted for allegedly bribing drug traffickers. Stock image
Scandals involving high-ranking officials such as García Luna, Rosario Robles, Emilio Lozoya, Javier Duarte, among others, have pitted former presidents against each other, who have also been indicted for allegedly bribing drug traffickers. Stock image

The ranking of the Best Countries 2020 of the portal US News, was made by analyzing the responses of 20,000 citizens from 73 countries.

In the survey, citizens answered how closely they related each of the countries to the term "corrupt", the exact meaning of which was left to their own interpretation. The attribute is included in the Best Countries for Transparency rankings, as well as the best countries to invest in and own a corporation.

Colombia, which sees an estimated $14 billion a year in corruption-related costs, experienced a wave of anti-government protests beginning in late November. A new set of strikes could occur after protest leaders meet with government officials later this month.

Mexico follows Colombia as the second-most corrupt country in the 2020 ranking. Ghana, Myanmar, Guatemala, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Kenya, and Bolivia also ranked in the top 10.

Santiago Nieto: the anti-corruption figure

In the last decade, corruption networks have been uncovered that intertwine and splatter both high-ranking public officials and drug traffickers, even former presidents have been singled out.

For Santiago Nieto, head of the Finance Ministry's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), it is not possible that former presidents were unaware of the acts of corruption taking place in their government.

Nieto admitted that the former president's accounts in the national and international financial system are already being investigated, and he even said that they will have a complete file before the end of 2019.

The head of the FIU said the cases of the former head of the Secretariat of Social Development (Sedesol) and the Secretariat of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development (Sedatu), Rosario Robles; the former director of Pemex, Emilio Lozoya, and the lawyer Juan Collado, are being taken into account in the investigation of Peña Nieto's finances.

Meanwhile, former Pemex director Emilio Lozoya Austin, who is on the run from justice because he has two arrest warrants against him: one for the overpriced purchase of the Agro Nitrogenados plant when he was director of Pemex, and another for allegedly receiving bribes from the Odebrecht company, launched serious accusations against former president Peña Nieto.

Faced with the judicial siege and from somewhere in the world, Lozoya Austin said that the president, former Finance Secretary Luis Videgaray and former Pemex Board Chairman and former Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquin Coldwell, endorsed the purchase of Agro Nitrogenados. He even asked that the former president be summoned to testify as a witness.

The so-called "trial of the century" against Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán that took place in New York also became a Pandora's box, from which the demons escaped when it was opened.

The testimonies of drug traffickers Jesús "El Rey" Zambada and Colombian Alex Cifuentes revealed the links of at least three former presidents with the Sinaloa Cartel, "El Chapo" Guzmán and Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada.

Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto were accused of having received millions of dollars from the Sinaloa Cartel to let them operate, in exchange for protection and even to finish off their enemies.

Felipe Calderon's former public security secretary, Genaro Garcia Luna, also received million-dollar bribes. He is already in custody in the U.S. state of Texas, accused of receiving money from the cartel and from "El Chapo" Guzmán, of conspiring to traffic cocaine and of making false statements.

CORRUPTION IN MEXICO CURBS THE FIGHT AGAINST DRUG TRAFFICKING

The Department of State of the United States pointed out that corruption and drug trafficking are the main problems that afflict Mexico to combat the production and trafficking of drugs.

In the International Report on the Narcotics Control Strategy 2019, prepared by the International Office of Anti Narcotics and Law Enforcement, it is mentioned that despite the support provided by the US, the Mexican government needs to fight corruption, improve its judicial capacity and reform its laws for the confiscation of assets.

However, the government of Donald Trump sees well that the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has expressed its commitment to fight crime and reduce the rates of violence, and that it seeks to improve the investigation to prosecute those who commit financial illicit acts. But, he emphasizes that corruption continues to impede the drug control efforts in Mexico.

The document specifies that despite that the National Anti-Corruption System seeks to end impunity, the implementation of this system is not ready, because the Senate has not appointed the prosecutor and much less has appointed the 18 judges that will integrate the system.

It also highlights that high-ranking government officials faced charges of corruption offenses last year, a crime involving almost 20 former governors. For example, they cite the case of Javier Duarte, former governor of Veracruz, the interim governor of said entity Flavino Ríos, and the investigation against the former governor of Nayarit, Roberto Sandoval.

The government of the United States estimates that the cultivation of poppy in Mexico increased since in 2017 44 thousand 100 hectares were cultivated, surpassing the 32 thousand hectares detected in 2016. Most of the cultivation occurs in the states of Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Durango, and Guerrero.

They emphasize that from January 2018 to date, the Ministry of the Navy had a significant increase in maritime insurances, managing to prevent 11.4 tons of cocaine from reaching the streets. The Americans highlighted the exchange of information with Semar, a unit that was provided with Casa 235 aircraft with modern intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance equipment.

The report notes that the importation of formaldehyde and ammonium chloride continues to be monitored due to its potential diversion since these chemicals can be used to make methylamine, a key chemical for the production of methamphetamine.

The Mexican government controls two fentanyl precursors. However, these controls have not deterred criminal organizations from obtaining these chemicals, so criminals look for "chemical alternatives". The State Department also noted that the criteria of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation have complicated and delayed the fight against money laundering.

Although the Mexican authorities have had some success investigating and blocking the accounts of money laundering suspects, that progress has been limited to prosecute the alleged perpetrators.

By Mexicanist