“The Cloud” vs Mexican Corruption

best-thing-business-transparency-cohn-open-forum-display

Digital economy is literally how we use the internet, globalization and connectivity to boost the exchange of goods and services worldwide. The gate to accomplish this came in the shape (or not really) of “The Cloud”. This imaginary universe where several online tools are available pretty much “on demand”, helps organizations to focus on their core business instead of investing on high cost IT infrastructure.

As my always reliable source says (aye, Wikipedia BRO!), The Cloud has its advantages: high-computing power, cheap cost of services, high performance, scalability, accessibility as well as availability. Therefore, it makes sense that governments shall use this to improve their finances, accounting services, budget planning, projects development and general management. Right?

news

It makes sense, however, underdeveloped countries see The Cloud as “risky” and “unreliable” for matters that should (as they say) be managed under internal scrutiny. Arguing that confidential information shouldn’t be put on a “hackeable” platform, countries such as Mexico pretty much underline their biggest fears: transparency and accountability.

According to http://www.transparency.org/, Mexico is ranked 95 out of 168 countries in terms of Corruption Perception, where it scores 35/100 in its Corruption Index (Scores range from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean)). As well, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Convention claims that Mexico does very little to enforce or combat bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions.

mexicos-corrupt-governors-lam

Javier Duarte, still governor of Veracruz, allegedly committed fraud for MX 60 million in misappropriation of public funds

In terms of controlling corruption, Transparency International published that Mexico ranked bellow average (with a -0.35%, where point estimates range from about -2.5 to 2.5. Higher values correspond to better governance outcomes), meaning that the extent to which public power is exercise for private gain is high.

If Mexico were to adopt the trends that digital economy brings, the availability of public information, budget and infrastructure expenses (as well as public officials salaries and benefits) through The Cloud will clearly reduce Mexico’s perception of being a very corrupt country.

Don’t forget that other technologies such as Data Mining, Mobile Applications and Forensic Tools are helping the international community to fight corruption. To simplify this let me quote a paragraph from a fantastic article written by Lauren Silveira (Weforum, April 18th of 2016):

“Technology is being used to create transparency across organizations by increasing automation, accuracy and frequency across processes. International organizations are at the forefront of this revolution developing innovative software to detect and deter fraud and collusion. As identified by the United Nations, more accessible and better quality data will lead to improved policy decisions and greater accountability and several of their recent reports outline how the data revolution will be incorporated into sustainable development commitments.” – L Silveira 2016

theeconomist

When The Economist published its article “The Mexican Morass” criticizing Peña Nieto’s administration, its high corruption levels and lack of accountability, they add this incredible statement: They don’t get that they don’t get it. Since then (January 2015), Peña Nieto has done nothing to move public budget, expenses and judicial information into open tools such as The Cloud or Big Data. The solution to fight corruption and federal fraud is right there. It seems that Peña’s resilience to move into that direction implies several conflicts of interests, frauds and lack of federal budget management.

Underdevelopment is a condition most countries experience not due to poor international competitiveness or unfair regional trade agreements, some countries struggle because of greedy and shortsighted leaders, and Mexico is an example of this.

nieto-jpg_1718483346

Advertisements

Mexico City: What Really Grinds My Gears

grinds-my-gearsRegardless of how much I love Mexico, there are some things I hate about its people, my people (our people, and so on) and their habits and manners.

I hate these things not because I´ve lived abroad or I feel better than my countrymen, these are just things that according to common sense (and international agreements and covenants) shouldn´t even happen in the first place:

 “What did you bring/buy me?”

Plain and simple, no matter where you are going or where you are coming from, your friends and relatives will always ask you “so, what did you bring me?” and will be upset if you didn´t think of them and their needs for souvenirs while you were abroad. Ironically, they ask for presents instead of asking about your trip or wishing you a safe flight.

Exactly, this is how you guys look when you ask for souvenirs instead of greeting me.

Exactly, this is how you guys look when you ask for souvenirs instead of greeting me.

“Can I steal that from you?”

You read it right, at least in the centre of the country people don´t ask for stuff, like “May I have some water?” or “Could you lend me your MC Hammer Vinyl?”, in Mexico City people prefer to “steal” from you.

Oh, those were the days...

Oh, those were the days…

I found this shocking at first when coworkers will go like “Hey Luis, can I steal your phone for a second?” or if I´m having a snack people will lurk around and will say “Can I steal a bite from you?”… Goddamn it people! Just ask for it, don´t need to steal my Cheetos! Which brings me to…

 Cutting in line

In other countries I´ve visited, you queue accordingly, no matter if it is to enter a venue, the elevator, or when you go to the bank. Even if you see a friend or relative at the front of the line you just say “hi” and move to the end of the row, and wait, patiently. In Mexico it doesn´t work that way, if you find a friend at the front of the line, you greet him, talk to that person for a while and then… subtly stay behind or beside that person, literally cutting in line no questions asked. It is rare that somebody at the end of the line will point it out and ask you to do the right thing. (That´s my “cutting in line” theory*)

There´s one thing the English do right, and that´s freaking queuing

There´s one thing the English do right, and that´s freaking queuing

 Discrimination

Right, this isn´t as funny as the previous three, but discrimination is huge in Mexico. Discrimination based on race, social status, gender, place of birth, etc. And among all of these, gender discrimination is, I reckon, the biggest one. In Mexico, women are the silent victims of a society that objectivizes them, harasses them, and underestimates their role in the Mexican society as limited to marriage, motherhood and underpaid positions in the job market.

It reads: "it´s easy being a man"

It reads: “it´s easy being a man”

The independent, strong and self-driven females are seen by men and other women as aggressive, lonely and stubborn members of the Mexican society. Women don´t get paid the same amount of money for the same jobs as men, they mustn’t speak up their minds in family reunions or work meetings about politics, economics and their point of views regarding other topics traditionally addressed by men. And if you are thinking that I´m wrong, I´m sorry mate but you are one of those hipster guys who lives in the posh neighborhoods in Mexico City, or a suburban high class executive from Monterrey; and you still believe that women are free and brave and independent, or that they shouldn´t complain as they have all their needs sorted out (like a house, maids, marriage and a well-paid husband).

Because, remember, this is how many companies think.

Because, remember, this is how many companies think.

That´s right, I reckon that from these four examples, this last one pisses me off the most, as not only men discriminate women, women judge other women for their individual accomplishments not related to marriage and motherhood, undermining the development of an egalitarian society, more productive and equally able to provide a sustainable economic and social growth to all of its members.

Remember, harassment and discrimination of women leads to violence, as said this example in this article published by The Guardian on Mexico´s Machism: “The state of women’s rights in Mexico is alarming,” said Rupert Knox, from Amnesty International. “In recent years we have witnessed not only an increase in killings of women but a continuing routine lack of effective investigations and justice.”

vm

Just a quick example, “Maternity Leave” isn´t called that way in Mexico, oh no, when you ask a pregnant woman when is she having her time off to prepare everything for the birth of her baby, you say “When does your DISABILITY period start?” That´s right, because being pregnant isn´t becoming a mother, it is a disability. Also, instead of asking her when she is “due”, in Mexico we ask her “when are you getting better”, implying that pregnancy is an illness. Think about it, we portrait pregnancy, with these common expressions, as something negative for women.

maternity-leave

Quesadillas without cheese 

If you are in Mexico and you find a nice taco stand and ask for a quesadilla it will certainly come as a folded tortilla with melted cheese in it, right? Everywhere in Mexico except in one place, the capital, Mexico City. The first time in Mexico City that I asked for a quesadilla the waiter asked politely “With cheese?” What the bullocks man! As you might have guessed, the word “quesadilla” comes from the combination of words “queso” (Cheese, in Spanish) and tortilla, hence: Quesadilla.

Cheese, melting cheese! It´s in the bible, Jesus!

Cheese, melting cheese! It´s in the bible, Jesus!

Plain and simple, and if you reckon the opposite, well, my friend, you are sexist, narrow-minded and an enemy of the free world.

Ps. *The cutting in line theory: In Mexico corruption is the status quo, and most prefer to look to the other side whenever something illegal happens in their surroundings, the same with cutting in line. My theory is that people cut in line, while the people behind them also queuing silently judge that person but they don´t speak up, because they know that eventually they will be that person cutting in line. Translated to every day basis, Mexicans don´t speak up as eventually they´ll be in the position of breaking the law, with impunity.

Ayotzinapa; The Disappearance of the 43

So, imagine that the mayor of, I don´t know, Charleston, South Carolina, has been experiencing certain social unrest due to an administration tainted with corruption and a strong linkage with some criminal groups. Are you following?

banner

Now imagine that his wife is having an event, and there´s a group of students, regardless of their motifs, that are joining other civil groups to rally on an annual protest. Then the wife of this lad decides that the best way to stop them is not to actually stop them and, let´s be nice here, detain them after the event is over, she decides to tell the municipal police (together with some gang members) to just “disappear them” and “take care of these people”.

So, they follow her instructions and disappear 43 students. Now, this happened in Iguala, Guerrero, south of Mexico, on the 26th of September, where 6 people were shot death by the local police officers and members of a criminal organization, and 43 students were detained and taken into the offices of the police department of Cocula, where they were later taken by the criminal group “Guerreros Unidos” and never seen again.

Ayotzinapa_estudiantes-desaparecidos

The New Yorker referred to this event in its October 24th article as the “Crisis in Mexico: The Disappearance of the 43“, as the national and international community still don´t know what happened to these students that were trained to become teachers. According to witnesses, relatives and journalists, like John Gibler and Marcela Turati (from the weekly magazine Proceso), these students were to block highway to ask for travel funds to go to Mexico City for the annual October the 2nd march in the capital.

Long story short, they disappeared, while neither the Mexican Attorney General, Jesus Murillo Karam, nor the Secretary of the Interior, Osorio Chong, the international observers or the Human Rights bodies in Mexico have a single clue on where they were taken.

"It was the State" - they claim

“It was the State” – they claim

What is surprising is the arrogance and cynicism the current administration has handled this matter. In recent press conferences Murillo Karam has been seen upset and unease whenever the international media questions him not only on the whereabouts of the students, but also on the identities of at least 20 bodies that have been found in massive clandestine graves. Aye, that´s right, they haven´t found the 43, but they did find two tenths of bodies nobody knew were missing, and his response was “That´s for a different line of investigation, as we are currently focused on finding the students”.  Oh, by the way, 56 people have been arrested because they “might” be related to the case.

Mexicans tend to forget that people like him are public servers, and should respond to our questions because that´s their job.

Mexicans tend to forget that people like him are public servers, and should respond to our questions because that´s their job.

This crisis has forced the governor of Guerrero to “take leave” last week, pushed by the massive criticism from different authorities and NGOs of the state’s handling of the case and its political support of Abarca (Iguala´s fugitive mayor). I mean, he didn´t resign, he just asked for some “time off”, which translates to “I´m not in the mood for this right now, I´ll see you around, not now, but around”.

cq5dam.thumbnail.624.351

People from around the world have raised their voices to demand the Mexican government to clarify and bring back the 43 students to their families. Like the following video with people from all over the globe, aware of the critical situation Mexico is going through, with a clear demand: Bring them back

I insist, even Time Magazine, media outlet that once considered Peña Nieto the savior of Mexico, now gives coverage to this possible massacre and puts Peña´s administration on the spot.

That´s right, these guys...

That´s right, these guys…

The families of the 43 missing still hope they could find them alive, honestly, knowing how criminal groups work in Mexico, I´m more pessimistic on how this crisis is going to unfold.

Sources:

Ps. The October the 2nd march commemorates the 1968 massacre of student protestors in the Tlatelolco Plaza by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) government of Díaz Ordaz.

Ps2. Highly recommend you to watch the video on the Huffington Post link.