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Corruption Comparison, Mexico And Colombia Essay, Research Paper

Latin America is a large region made up of many diverse countries. A large portion of these countries have enormous problems with corruption. Two of these countries, Mexico and Colombia., have gained a great deal of attention due to their problems. The difficulties these countries have are even more complex in that they effect other more prominent countries immensely. When looking more closely at the two, it becomes interesting to observe the contrasting features of the corruption in each nation. In each country the root of the problem comes from the illegal drugs that have become extremely abundant. In each country the corruption takes different paths, but ends up encompassing most of society. In Mexico the corruption does not have quite the power it does in Colombia, hence Colombia is in a much more serious state. This paper is going to examine exactly what the level of corruption is in each country and, in the end, tell why Mexico is in a better position than Colombia.

As stated before, drugs and the trafficking that accompany them, is the root of the corruption in both countries. The degree to which drugs affect the society as a whole is amazing. In Mexican culture narcotics have a different role than in Colombia. The problem is, no doubt, just as deeply rooted but does not cause the political violence that is so regularly seen in Colombia. The corruption is cloaked in layers of deception; crooked law enforcement officials commonly use their jobs as cover, building their reputations as lawmen and patriots. (Reed) In Mexico it seems, as though everyone has a price. Everyone can be bought or paid off with drug money. It doesn t seem that it goes as far as in Colombia. It must also be said that the control drugs have on Mexico is far different, this will later be explained further. Colombia s drug problem is just as far reaching as Mexico, and then some. It has a firm hold on all classes and aspects of society. Drugs are a part of everyone s lives, from the farmer/peasant all the way to the President. To stress the problem further it can be stated that to go a day without hearing or seeing something about narcotics is next to impossible.

Drugs, and the incredible amount of money that is generated by the trafficking acts as a highly contagious disease that spreads throughout a country. The drug trade is so vast that it generates $27 to $30 million of the Mexican economy. (Dettmer) This disease infects the country, most commonly, in the forms of bribery or violence. These two things seem to be constant variables in both countries, and the first thing they effect is the government. The political system is the hardest and most easily hit target for corruption anywhere in the world. In these two cases they were easy prey.

The Colombian government is wrought with corruption. The endemic corruption that undermines the drug war is rooted in the high profits that make it a rational choice for government officials and police and military officers whose low salaries cannot compete with traffickers bribes. (Bertram, Blachman, Sharpe, Andres p.170) These bribes are most often used by drug dealers to buy legislators. This was proven in 1995 when several congressmen, the attorney general, and the president s campaign advisor were indicted for accepting drug money for their cooperation. It is hard to truly speculate today how many government officials are actually on the payroll of the drug cartels. Officials can make anywhere from $5,000 to $70,000 and beyond to just turn their heads and look the other way. In Mexico this is where the corruption is most common. Colombia, on the other hand, will not stand for someone who doesn t take part in this business. If the person will not cooperate, the cartel will not move on to some other legislator. The legislator will be killed and used as a symbol. In the past there have been many attempts to regulate the drug cartels. Most of these have had a very bloody result, to say the least. In retaliation to his predecessors assination current president, Barco, pledged a war on drugs. United States president George Bush soon endorsed him. The United States would then indite any dealers that could be captured. The cartels soon realized what would happen if they were sent to the U.S. These criminals would stand trial, and were guaranteed to be put in jail for years. If they were not sent to the U.S., and simply kept in Colombia they would see little jail time. In most instances they would pay their way out of jail, and be right back into the drug trade as soon as they hit the street. This crack down against drugs was with good intentions, but it had serious negative repercussions that soon hit the government. The drug dealers responded with a massive bombing campaign centered in Medellin and Bogata. (Wiarda and Kline p.191) These bombings were not specifically aimed at anyone in particular. They were to kill as many people as they could government officials or the innocent. After the bombings had ceased so did the tough regulations on the narcos. In other words, when the narcos do not like some piece of legislation, or something the government is doing it can have it changed in a matter of time. All they have to do start the aimless bombings, and killing innocent people. These people have nothing to do with drugs and the government will back off. This optimizes the fact that the government has been made extremely weak from corruption. It cannot put together any policies to fight this trafficking, because the same legislators pushing it are probably benefiting from the epidemic. Obviously, this bribery has seeped its way through all levels of anti-narcotic forces as well. Colombia s military was involved in fighting the drug problem, but to no avail. From 1980 to 1990 there were 300 judges and other employees of the judicial system, about 40 journalists, and 500 police murdered as a result of drugs and corruption. (Rosenburg) As a major force in the war on drugs its credibility was stripped when evidence was found that drug lord Jose Gonzalo Rodrigues Gacha paid millions of dollars to bribe an entire army brigade.

Mexican politics has a long way to go to fully be on the right track, but is in far better shape than Colombia. Its government was quite stable until recently. During the reign of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) the country had good stability and economic growth. The country was not perfect but the people allowed this due to the increase in living standards. The PRI increased the economic conditions, although unevenly, and that was fine. Growth of at least 6% to 8% in the 1960 s and 1970 s was an absolute improvement. (Wiarda & Kline p.343) When the PRI was no longer holding the Presidency the problems came to the forefront. The stabile feel that they brought to the people was gone, and this was an opportunity for the drug trafficking problem to really be noticed. It was able to gain in strength, as the government became feeble in its transition. Corruption from drug trafficking has dug into Mexican society, infiltrating and undermining government at all levels. Twenty-eight percent of Mexico s federal law enforcement has been fired for corruption in the last three years. (Dettmer) To back that up this comment was made about Mexico s largest drug trafficker by the name of Carillo, it is estimated that Carillo grosses approximately ten billion dollars a year. (Reed) This certainly puts into perspective the amount of power he would have. In 1996 the government experienced an embarrassing set back. The military in Mexico seemed to be the one institution that the people could look to with pride and honesty. The Army historically has owned large plots of land on which it has grown much of its food, and it was common knowledge among many Mexicans that the army grows and sells drugs, including marijuana, from these lands, or protects other who grow on army property. The New York Times reported conclusive evidence was available linking the Mexican government and army to international narcotics trading which has been systematically covered up or deliberately ignored in order to protect the stability and good name of Mexico s ruling PRI government. (Global Exchange)

Below are the rankings of Colombia and Mexico on the 1999 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International. The country rank is out of a possible 99, and the lower the better. The CPI score is a rating on a scale of 1 to 10. 10 being highly clean and 0 being highly corrupt. You can see that neither country s scores are that positive, but as said before Mexico is in better shape.

1999 Corruption Perceptions Index

Country Rank Country 1999 CPI Score Standard Deviation Surveys Used

58 Mexico 4 0 9

72 Colombia 2 0 11

18 USA 7 1 10

–Transparency International

At this point in the argument there are very few areas of opposition. Those that do exist are concentrating on the fact that Colombian trafficking has change seriously. In the United States, the Mexicans are beginning to muscle in on the Colombian s East Coast strongholds. (Macko) Pair this with the already powerful influence of Mexican trafficking in the Midwest and the West and it doesn t leave much room for any other dealers. To further hurt the Colombian market, they have bypassed them several times to buy the cocaine directly from producers in Bolivia and Peru. (Macko)

In conclusion it can be repeated from before that both Colombia and Mexico have an epidemic of corruption. Mexico is better of in that corruption is not the rule of the land as it can be in Colombia. A person could live a good life in Mexico, and not have this effect them. It may be hard to do this, but is possible. Colombia, on the other hand, does not allow for this. The people there are brought into the problem against their will. Bombings against the innocent public may be an everyday event. This would shape a person s life immensely. Therefor it is safe to say that when comparing corruption in Mexico and Colombia, Mexico clearly has the upper hand.


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