Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mexicans don´t trust politicians, police or judges

American newspapers are starting to pick up on the Mexican war (and it is a war) on drug traffickers.

A typical American response would be stronger enforcement, task forces, aggressive prosecution and so on. That is not likely to happen here. (See how it works in Mexico.)

Mexicans believe that their police and judges are corrupt, along with their politicians. Who would you tell about crime and corruption when the highest authorities in your town or state are considered corrupt?

Scary poll results

I share with you a poll from one of the most respected Mexican newspaper groups, Reforma. It´s pretty simple: On a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being not corrupt and 10 being very corrupt, how would you rate various professions and institutions in Mexico?

One was judges. 71% of those questioned in the poll rated judges as 7 or higher on the corruption scale. And they´re probably right.

Naive me, I would score the U.S. judges at less than 1 on the corruption scale. Would I be right, in your opinion?

Politicans are considered most corrupt, followed by the police

The percentage of people who gave a score of 7-10 on the corruption scale to various professions:
Politicians -- 87% of those polled gave a score of 7-10, up from 81% eight years ago
Police -- 80%
Union leaders -- 79%
Judges -- 71%
Lawyers -- 69%
Bureaucrats -- 65%
Business executives -- 59%
Priests -- 40%, up from 28% seven years ago
Journalists -- 39%, up from 33% eight years ago
Doctors -- 35%

The army, interestingly enough, is one of the country´s most trusted institutions, which is why it is leading the government´s ant-crime effort.

How do you root out crime

Even if you assume that people are wrong in their judgment about who is corrupt, the fact that people don´t trust their institutions makes it difficult to establish rule of law.

People don´t feel confident giving information to authorities about criminal activity.

Corruption is not described or defined for the purposes of the poll, which was of 820 Mexican adults, by telephone at their homes, Nov. 7 and 8. The poll supposedly has a margin of error of 3.4% and a confidence factor of 95 percent. Because Reforma keeps news behind a pay wall, I can´t link to the original article.

Money and arms from the north

Mexico has become the No. 1 source of illegal drugs shipped to the U.S. Rolling Stone did an interesting piece that captures how broadly and deeply the money from this trade has corrupted every level of Mexican society.

As many as a third of Mexico´s states are considered narco states, where everyone from the governor on down is involved in protecting and benefiting from the drug trafficking.

The Wall Street Journal did an in-depth piece on Mexican trafficking of marijuana and cocaine in February.

The trade generates an estimated $20 billion in revenues, which makes illegal drugs Mexico´s third largest export after oil and automotive products, according to the Wall Street Journal. (If you prefer, here´s the WSJ Spanish version.) That figure represents about 2% of the country´s gross domestic product.

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