Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Mexican grassroots politics?

I can't shake the impression that politics in Mexico is the polar opposite of grassroots politics. But that's what the New York Times headline writer calls the anti-corruption trend in Mexico. Read the article and discuss.

What is a "grassroots movement"? What is the definition of the term "grassroots movement" as it applies to politics?

In politics, a "grassroots movement" is a movement that develops organically at a local level before spreading throughout the state and even the country.

A true "grassroots movement" isn't organized by political forces - instead, a "grassroots movement" springs up spontaneously due to some pressing issue that a community feels needs to be changed or enhanced.
     [Thanks to Dave Manuel and his blog.]


Grass-Roots Anticorruption Drive Puts Heat on Mexican Lawmakers
Corruption is so woven into daily life in Mexico that it has been enshrined in a common saying: “El que no transa, no avanza” — he who doesn’t cheat doesn’t get ahead…

But a package of anticorruption measures being weighed by the national legislature could become a turning point in the country’s relationship with corruption.

At the center is an ambitious initiative to impose public disclosure rules for all public servants, at all levels of government. Called “3 de 3” — or “3 out of 3” — the initiative would require government officials to reveal their assets and potential conflicts of interest, as well as prove that they are paying taxes…

The legislature ended its regular session at the end of April without taking up the measures for a vote…

But a public outcry in recent days compelled legislators to reschedule the debate for Monday.

The “3 out of 3” initiative is the result of a remarkable grass-roots effort. In 2014, a change in Mexican law allowed citizens to propose legislation with the support of at least 120,000 validated signatures…

The measure, pushed by a group of community organizations, amassed more than 630,000 signatures.

It has also received the support of influential business associations, leaving some analysts to speculate that spiraling bribes may have cut too deeply into profits…

[I]n recent years, corruption, and the impunity that allows it, have increasingly been regarded as the fundamental causes of violence and the nation’s other ills…

“How can you solve the problem of violence and organized crime if you don’t solve the problem of corruption?” [said Juan E. Pardinas, the managing director of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness]. “Corruption is weakening the capacity of the state to address the challenges of the country.”…

“You cannot sustain a political system where people have enough information to know the extent of corruption but the state institutions are totally incapable of prosecuting it,” Mr. Pardinas said…

One of the most contentious subjects of discussion has been defining whether the asset disclosures should be made public. Many lawmakers are concerned that revealing their personal wealth could make them and their relatives targets for criminals…

Still, the public clamor for legislators to pass a robust set of anticorruption laws has been energetic. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico… has weighed in forcefully in favor of the measures…

In the meantime, some politicians have volunteered to divulge their secrets even before a disclosure law is passed.

Already, more than 560 public servants… have signed on to the disclosure initiative, revealing their assets and potential conflicts of interests…

Among them is Zoé Robledo Aburto, an opposition senator…

“The politicians have little credibility. There’s little confidence in government institutions,” he said in an interview. “In this moment of crisis, we should be sending an audacious message that can reconfigure and re-establish our relationship with the citizenry…

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