The call to steal

Reforma 04/24/17
Jesús Silva-Herzog Márquez

Javier Duarte is the routine of corruption gone wild, Hector Aguilar Camin said a few days ago. An ordinary monster. The only thing separating him from other local satraps is the size of his madness, the magnitude of his clumsiness. The rules of our federalism are made for arbitrariness: disposing of fortunes without accountability. Duarte followed the rule taking it to the extreme. It has been said many times: the end of the former centralism did not lead to a balanced federal regime, but to the proliferation of regional authoritarianisms. Autonomies were launched despotically. They stopped being accountable to the center, that is true. But they did not find, around them, firm limits. This is how local autocracies that did as they chose were born. They were baptized with a stream of resources. The states had never had as many resources as they received from the second oil bonanza. The dilapidation of this abundance is one of the most serious economic crimes that the country has suffered.

The resources that the states received from the beginning of the century multiplied significantly. They entered a dark pocket whose destination we could barely discern. The two PAN governments were incapable of stopping the routine embezzlement. They argued that the laws prevented them from acting to stop the larceny. As the governors ruled over the local powers, there was no way to discipline and, much less, punish them. But in this short tale of perverted emancipations, one must perceive a relevant shift. The second alternation took place when the PRI returned to the Presidency of the Republic, late in 2012. Javier Duarte’s government seems the perfect symbol of the message that Enrique Peña Nieto’s victory sent to PRI members.

The extraordinary reports from Animal Político revealed that, from the moment he stepped into the government of Veracruz, Javier Duarte designed a complex engineering of simulations to enrich himself. Seen from a distance, these devices were demure machinations. After all, the deception required some care of appearances. But once the PRI candidate won the Presidency, the pretense ended. Let’s steal! was the message that Enrique Peña Nieto’s victory projected. The election of the PRI candidate was a call to pillage. The one hailed as one of the examples of the new PRI by candidate Peña Nieto adopted this fully.

Leonardo Núñez González, who has done an in-depth study of the way in which public resources are exercised in the country, analyzed the observations that the Federation’s Superior Auditor made on Duarte’s government. Carlos Puig collected them in an article published last week in Milenio. It is worth stopping to look at these findings. According to public information, we can see that the Auditor’s Office made in 2011 observations on the destination of 46 million pesos; on the following year, 2012, it did so on slightly over 9 million. In 2013, when Enrique Peña Nieto was already president of Mexico, the observations shot up to over 9 billion pesos. Yes: from 9 million to 9 billion in one year. In 12 months, an increase of nearly 100 thousand percent! It is impossible to separate this hike in abuse from the change in presidency. It is even less so if we note the complicity of the federal government with the unrestrained larceny. Naturally, Peña Nieto’s government was aware of the outrages in Veracruz. More than a few in the media denounced Duarte’s abuses.  But beyond what the press has said, the Federation’s institutions themselves were aware of the pillage. The Attorney General’s Office received a formal accusation from the Auditor’s Office in 2013. It did nothing. Javier Duarte had to lose an election, quit the Veracruz governorship, and flee, for the Attorney General’s Office to issue an arrest warrant for him.

The President said that Duarte’s capture was a clear message against impunity. I doubt that anyone believes that. Peña Nieto’s victory was a call to steal.


Text translated by the Instituto VIF from the original published by Reforma.