Ex-governors from five states in Mexico have been accused of corruption over the course of 2016, a telling reminder of how persistent and widespread this problem is in state governments across the country.
The former governors of the Mexican states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Quintana Roo, Veracruz, and most recently Durango have been accused of corruption so far this year, according to Sinembargo. (See map below) To date, only the former governor of Sonora, Guillermo Padrés Elías, has been arrested.
On November 10, Elías was arrested by the Attorney General's Office on charges of tax fraud, among others. At a press conference, the Attorney General's Office explained that the former governor is accused of pilfering some $8.8 million from state coffers in Sonora, according to Sinembargo.
The former governor of Durango, Jorge Herrera Caldera, was recently charged with embezzlement. Government debt in Durango is reported to have exploded to over $700 million due to financial mismanagement, lack of transparency, and irregularities under the Herrera administration. Herrera has filed injunctions against his possible arrest along with dozens of members of his administration, reported Sinembargo.
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In Chihuahua, authorities announced the possible looting of state institutions under the previous administration of César Duarte Jáquez. In fact, the new administration said the state coffers were essentially empty. Jáquez denies any wrongdoing, but authorities points to his inexplicable increase in wealth as evidence of impropriety, reported Sinembargo.
Meanwhile, former Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa has been on the run since early October. According to preliminary audits, some $1.7 billion in state funds are unaccounted for. Additionally, the state has debts of some $4 billion owed to suppliers, contractors and banks. The authorities are offering a reward of $700,000 for information leading to Duarte's capture, who is facing corruption-related charges.
Finally, the former governor of Quintana Roo, Roberto Borge Angulo, is accused of defrauding the small state of millions of dollars and increasing the debt dramatically, all while jetting around the globe on government funds, reported Sinembargo.
InSight Crime Analysis
With five former governors now accused of corruption, it appears Mexico's institutional constraints are no match for the cronyism and illicit enrichment schemes that pervade many state governments. Though estimates vary, corruption is believed to cost Mexico roughly two percent of its annual Gross Domestic Product.
It's clear that Mexico has yet to root out a culture of corruption that dates back decades. Carlos Hank González, a 20th century politician who belonged to the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional - PRI), once explained the ethos this way: "a politician that is poor is a poor politician."
While corruption is certainly not limited to the PRI, it may threaten to some extent the party's political fortunes going forward. Indeed, the PRI's perceived inability to tackle corruption is believed to have cost the party a number of wins in the June 2016 gubernatorial elections.