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Corruption In Our Own Backyard: Mexico
Action Research in Ed Admin
EDA 570
Wednesday, April 27, 2011In order to understand the corruption that exists in Mexico, it is first necessary to examine exactly what and who is participating in dishonest practices as well as why said corruption exists. It is important to know not only how deceitful practices have come to exist, but also why they have continued to prevail so heavily. There are many levels of corruption throughout Mexico; each level needs to be addressed to understand how and why they all relate to one another. Indeed, this relation is largely the reason why it is so difficult to put a stop to corrupt and deceitful behaviours. What areas of Mexico are corrupt and why Additionally, it is obvious that the United States is certainly not free of corruption, but being located next to a country with such extreme cases of corruption inevitably has an effect on the nation as a whole.

The State of Corruption in Mexico
In Mexico today, corruption exists throughout the country, from criminals, to government officials, to businesses and even to police officers. Corruption exists at every level of society in the country. In their essay Evade, Corrupt, or Confront Organized Crime and the State in Brazil and Mexico (2009), John Bailey and Matthew M. Taylor note the fact that organized crime occurs at various levels, just as the government does, and that they are consistently connected to one another. They write:
There is considerable interplay between states and criminal actors, even when the state is not corrupted by, or allied with, criminal groups. Interactions between criminal organizations and governments can occur on a number of levels. At the neighbourhood level, for example, fluid organizations involved in extortion, drug distribution, gambling,
or prostitution work out stable relationships with individual officers, groups of police, or with whole precincts (Hinton, 2006). Evasion and corruption are typical practices. Evasion can be adopted by both criminal groups (operating clandestinely) and by police (avoiding the superior force of criminal gangs); criminals can voluntarily negotiate bribes with police or submit to unilateral extortion by them (Bailey, 2009).In examining this information, it becomes clear that corruption within Mexico is so deep rooted that it exists throughout all levels of organization. Criminals rely on the fact that police officials are corrupt and will ignore illegal behaviour while police forces rely on bribery. This acceptance and reliance on one another leads to the continuation of underhanded behaviour on all levels. Additionally, because of the fact that criminal behaviour is so interwoven, if corruption was put to a stop at any level, the rest of the levels also participating would be affected both directly and indirectly. Valentine Anozie et al discusses the ways in which the Mexican police force participates in dishonest behaviour. They note that they partake in bribery and extortion, diversion of police resources, kickbacks and other behaviours which are similar. Involvement becomes as complicated as premeditated criminal activity such as kidnapping and drug trafficking (Anozie, 2004). With so many entities involved, it is unsurprising that it is so difficult to discourage and discontinue criminal activity.
This idea is affirmed by Bernard Wasow in his article Greasing Palms: Corruption in Mexico. He notes the fact that so much of society partakes in corrupt behaviour and observes how difficult it is to avoid it when it exists all around. Even when a person does not agree with or want to participate in illegal behaviours, it is difficult not to. He explains that ???[corruption] creates a ???prisoners??™ dilemma.??™ If everyone becomes honest, everyone will be better off. But if some people are taking bribes, then there is a strong incentive for his colleagues to follow until everyone is corrupt??? (Widow, 2005). The primary and most difficult problem that arises here does not stem from the fact that bribery and illegal behaviour is occurring, but rather from the difficulty of stopping said behaviour. An entire overturn of society would need to occur. Not only would government, business, and police have to be altered, but the society would also need to accept and want the changes, which is difficult to coordinate when so many individuals are involved in the corruption and benefiting from it. It is for this reason that corruption and illegal activity continues to prosper widely throughout Mexico and is openly accepted as a part of everyday life.Where Corruption in Mexico Began
In his 1995 article Lomnitz: Understanding the history of corruption in Mexico, William Harms examines Claudio Lomnitz??™s field of study on the history of corruption in Mexico. He discusses the fact that, since being ???discovered??? by Spanish explorers, Mexico has been involved in corrupt practices. He writes:
Corruption was significant in the emergence of a local bourgeoisie, in undermining the ascriptive weight of race and caste, in the economic reproduction of the so-called informal sector and, not least, in the shaping of a powerful political class (Harms, 1995).In noting that dishonest practices came into practice as a result of the confines of race and caste, it becomes clear that people began utilizing deceitful practices in order to get ahead in their lives. Being burdened by government rules and regulations that appear unjust and benefits only a few individuals at the upper reaches of society, creates an environment in which the majority of the population view dishonesty and corrupt systems as fair and just methods in achieving goals.
Also playing a role in creating a seemingly acceptable practice of corruption was the church. ???Besides the official state corruption, there was corruption in the church. The church had its own source of income and dispensed offices in exchange for money??? (Harms, 1995). For citizens in Mexico, the people and institutions which were looked favourably upon and which succeeded in society were those which were corrupt and which could be entered into via corrupt behaviours. When the institution that has been set up in a society to promote and deliver morals and ethics is consistently participating in corrupt behaviours, it is unsurprising and inevitable that citizens of said society will look upon said behaviour as acceptable and also begin participating in it.
In examining where the corruption in Mexico began, it becomes ever more apparent that it is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible to put a stop to it. Essentially, the country was built on corruption. First, from Spanish conquistadors who craved power and resources, utilizing the land and rules for their own gain. From this, citizens revolted in the simplest way they could: by ignoring the rules which were set out to keep them in order and participate in dishonest behaviour.The Effects on the United States
Inevitably, when a country is so greatly involved in high levels of criminal activity and corruption on so many levels, their neighbours will begin to feel a backlash of some sort. Of

course, the United States is not void of corruption, far from it. However, it does not partake in so many corrupt activities and at so many levels in the same way that Mexico does. We can examine the history of the United States and note the difference between it and Mexico; noting that America did not have the same caste rules and regulations that Mexico did and thus not feeling the need to utilize illicit behaviour in order to break free.
Also of high importance is the idea of the ???American Dream???. The proposal that anyone in the United States can get ahead and reach their goals (which are consistently taught to be money and material goods) with hard work has been engrained in the heads of every American child since birth. Working hard within the confines of the law is of extreme importance in American culture, as are high moral standards and responsibility. These values can be seen throughout the media in film, television, novels, comic books, and so on. Heroes and heroines are consistently morally upright while immoral antagonists prove time and time again to ignore laws, be involved in corrupt behaviour, and seek gain only for themselves. It is these behaviours which are treated as hugely negative in American culture.
As a result of being so close to Mexico and the corruption that runs rampant throughout it, the United States also begins to face problems. Many Mexican citizens seek refuge and a safer lifestyle in America, thus contributing to passage issues and illegal immigration. And most recently, becoming ever more dangerous, the Mexican-American border is a hot bed of criminal activity involving drug wars and drug trafficking, which endangers innocent citizens on both sides of the border. The United States is left to determine how to best protect their citizens and how to best stop or slow down the entrance of massive amounts of illegal drugs into the country. They could enter Mexico and endeavour to forcefully coerce the government and police to take charge and put an end to corruption and criminal activity, but such an action would inevitably result in massive upheavals, upset, and worldwide consequences. For now, it seems that all the United States can logically and securely do is set up forces on their own soil to defend American citizens and attempt to suppress illegal and dangerous trafficking. After assessing all of the information, it becomes clear just how prevalent crime and corruption are in Mexico. It is also apparent how difficult it is for such behaviour to cease and desist. While the United States may think it necessary and beneficial to step-in and attempt to ???clean up??? the problems occurring with their neighbours to the south, it is unlikely that their presence or efforts to inspire change will prove to have lasting results. What the country really needs if corruption is to be put to an end is a complete reworking of the entire system. From the government, to the police force, to businesses, all must play an honest part in positive change. After examining the research and noting that Mexico was indeed built upon corruption, it proves even more improbable that this will happen as it would inevitably destroy all that the country has been built upon and its entire history.ReferencesAnozie, Valentine, Juhie Shinn, Katy Skarlatos, and Julio Urzua (2004). Reducing Incentives for Corruption in the Mexico City Police Force. International Workshop, Public Affairs 869, Spring 2004. La Folette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin.
Bailey, John and Matthew M. Taylor (2009). Evade, Corrupt, or Confront Organized Crime and The State in Brazil and Mexico. Journal of Politics in Latin America, Vol. 1, No. 2, 3-29.
Brezosky, L. (2008, October 20). Indicted former Starr County Sheriff is refused bail. The Houston Chronical. Retrieved October 25, 2008, from
Butler, Allen. (2008). Jesus Malverde: The ???Narco Saint???. Retrieved October 25, 2008, from
Cook, C. (2007, October 16). Mexico??™s Drug Cartels (Report No. RL34215) CRS Report for Congress. Retrieved October 25, 2008, from
Flakus, G. (2006, July 26). Drug Money Worsens Corruption in Mexico. Retrieved October 25, 2008, from
Harms, William (1995). Lomnitz: Understanding history of corruption in Mexico. The University of Chicago Chronicle, Vol. 15, No. 6.
Lauer, M. (2007, July). Mexican Drug Policy: Internal Corruption in an Externalized War. Washington Report on the Hemisphere, 27(10), 2,6. ?  Retrieved October 26, 2008, from Research Library database. (Document ID: 1305638741).Pinkerton, J. (17 ?  June). Rise in border graft feared. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News,1. ?  Retrieved October 27, 2008, from ABI/INFORM Complete database. (Document ID: 1290150631).
Roig-Franzia, M. (2008, May 7). Mexican Drug Cartels Making Audacious Pitch for Recruits. The Washington Post on the Web. Retrieved October 25, 2008, from
Samuels, L. (2005, December 29). In Mexico, culture of corruption runs deep. The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Retrieved October 25, 2008, from
Watson, J. (2001). Folk Saint for Mexicans who cross border. Retrieved October 25, 2008, from
Wasow, Bernard (2005). Greasing Palms: Corruption in Mexico. The Globalist, June 27, 2005. Retrieved from, S. Brian (1997). The Slippery Slope: U.S. Military Moves Into Mexico. Retrieved from *
* Scoring Rubric
E-Portfolio: Benchmark Assessment___25__CONTENT (27 pts possible)
* Student accomplished the objectives of this assignment
* Student clearly demonstrates understanding of the subject matter at appropriate depth
* Ideas and information presented are adequate; data is not limited or missing
* Paper is clear, focused, and interesting
* Papers includes relevant material and conveys more than a general message
* Adequate support is provided for assertions
* The ability to link theory to practical experience is evident__1___ORGANIZATION (2 pts possible)
* The introduction provides a sufficient background on the topic and previews major points
* Central theme or purpose is immediately clear
* Structure is clear, logical, and easy to follow
* Subsequent sections develop/support the central theme
* Conclusion/recommendations follow logically from the body of the paper__2___FORMAT (2 pts possible)
* Paper is neat. It shows attention to detail.
* Paper conforms to APA standards for format and citation of sources
* Citations/reference page follow guidelines
* Properly cites ideas/information from other sources_2____CONVENTIONS (2 pts possible)
* Rules of grammar, usage, punctuation are followed
* Spelling is correct
* Paper has been carefully edited_2____FLUENCY (2 pts possible)
* The tone is appropriate to the audience, content, and assignment
* Sentences are complete, clear, and concise.
* Sentences are well-constructed with consistently strong, varied structure.
* Transitions between sentences/paragraphs/sections help maintain the flow of thought
* Words are precise and not ambiguous__32___FINAL GRADE (35 pts possible)

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