Tired of financial scandals, a group of Mexicans has decided to raise the alarm about a problem that has seen the country named the most corrupt nation in the OECD. The result is Corruptour, an open-top bus that takes visitors on a one-hour trip around Mexico City, highlighting some of the country’s worst economic abuses and targeting everyone from senators to presidents and media outlets along the way.
Among the highlights of the ten-stop tour, which has been funded by anonymous backers, is the eye-catching Estela de Luz (Pillar of Light) skyscraper, built under former president Felipe Calderón to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mexican independence, a building that went six times over budget.
The tour also takes in the so-called “Mansion of Shame” – a lavish residence built for the family of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto using the Higa group, which is a favored government contractor.
The wall Mexico has to knock down is corruption Emilio Álvarez Icaza, human rights activist
Visitors are also driven by the headquarters of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), infamous for a corruption scandal involving contracts for the purchase of medicines, and the main offices of the country’s biggest broadcaster Televisa, which secretly funded Peña Nieto’s election campaign in 2012.
The last stop on the tour is the national senate where lawmakers grant themselves Christmas bonuses of 200,000-400,000 pesos (€9,000-18,000).
“There are so many corruption cases it was difficult to choose just 10 stops,” says Emilio Álvarez Icaza, former executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and a supporter of the bus-tour project.
“The political classes never get tired of robbing the people and this is a way to show the problem, explain it, and educate people,” he adds.
Surveys show that corruption is the third-greatest concern for people in Mexico, after impunity and the economy. At the same time, Peña Nieto has called for “national unity” to deal with the threat posed by Donald Trump, who recently signed an executive order to initiate the process of the construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico.
We have to give hope back and make people believe corruption is not genetic Patricia de Obeso, tour organizer
But Icaza says Mexico’s real wall is internal. “The wall we have to knock down is corruption. The other, that of Trump, is an insult and unacceptable but is not yet standing, while the other wall has been in place for years and is doing a great deal of damage,” says the human-rights activist.
For tour organizer Patricia de Obeso, the aim is simple: “We have to give hope back and make people believe that corruption is not genetic, it’s not fate, and it’s not something you can’t put a stop to,” she says.
Mexico was a big loser in the latest edition of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, coming in 123rd place out of 176 countries, with a score of 30 points, five points down on a year earlier.
English version by George Mills.