Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Quora: Why is Mexico so corrupt ? (Lessons for Marin and the State of California)

Icaro Vazquez
Icaro Vazquez, Born there, lived there for 22 years, not living there again
This is a topic near and dear to me. I was born and grew up in Mexico until I came to the US to study. In my 22 years I saw a financial crisis and devaluations every 6 years, basically every time the president changed.  

I'm not going to be exhaustive but am going to speak from experience. I see many reasons for this problem:

  1. PRI: One party ruled the country for 70 years and treated it as its own personal ATM. This is the root of all problems. As an example, one of phrases I remember most from these guys is: 'A politician who is poor is a poor politician'. Basically they were saying: I am going to make myself rich at the expense of the country and you cannot do anything to stop me. Stolen elections were so common in Mexico that it was a miracle when an election was not stolen by the party in power. I am happy to say there has been progress here as the past two presidents have not come from this party.
  2. Weak Rule of Law: the rule of law is, to be extremely polite, weak. The judicial system urgently needs reform (there has been some reform in the past 12 years but more can be done). Judges used to be merely implementors of someone else's decisions. If you paid money any decision can be implemented, regardless of the merits of the case.
  3. Poor education system: I cannot stress this enough. While there is public education the quality of it was very bad when I was there. The teacher union is still basically a voting machine for the PRI and providing a quality education was not at the top of the list. There are, of course, students that succeed in such a system. In this case people succeeded despite the education they received from their school. In higher education the story is not much better, college enrollment rate was less than 30% in Mexico and the graduation rate is much less than that.
  4. No independent media: while I was there you could count with your fingers the number of media outlets (newspapers, magazines, etc) that were not mouthpieces of the state. The main TV network would never dare to criticize the  PRI in any shape or form. Its owners were of course happy with the arrangement as they had a monopoly. Imagine having just one TV network deciding what the whole country would hear. Happily, there has been a lot of progress in the recent past. Newspapers like Reforma and El Norte show they can be independent and still survive.

In the end, a problem like this cannot be solved in a few years, it takes decades to rid the system of its evils and habits. Sadly, it seems the next president will be from the PRI which will bring back all the terrible customs of the past.

I'm a pessimist in this respect, I don't see any improvements coming soon but I sincerely hope I am wrong.

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