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The Mexican Governor detained in Guatemala on the 16th April this year, is the most visible element of the network that was operated – and probably is still being operated – to extract public resources from Veracruz and wrongfully obtain earnings through contracts, licenses, concessions and permits. Or, as the Director of Transparency Mexico Eduardo Bohórquez signalled in an interview with Mario Campos: “Javier Duarte is just the head of a complex network of corruption that has been embedded in Veracruz for many years”. After his detention, the investigations against him will continue, and therefore it is key that public opinion, in as much as the corresponding authorities, doesn’t lose sight of who the accomplices that facilitated and benefited from each and every one of his acts of corruption were, as well as the authorities that kept silent and failed to carry out their control, surveillance, investigation and sanction obligations. These actors are also responsible for Javier Duarte’s corruption.
Who are these actors? At Transparency Mexico, we have identified at least 10 actors that are #BehindDuarte, that must be part of the continuing investigations around one of the biggest corruption scandals in the country’s recent history. These actors are:
- His network of family and friends – A series of family members, among those that stand out are his wife Karime Macías as well as his parents-in-law, were a key part of the corruption framework that Duarte used. There were also close friends such as Moisés Mansur, who on many occasions acted as the figurehead in the operations carried out to remove resources destined for the most vulnerable communities of Veracruz.
- The cabinet – On many occasions Duarte’s ministers, deputy ministers and administrative directors took decisions that permitted acts of corruption, while others omitted informing the authorities and presenting the corresponding denouncements. An example of this is Flavino Ríos, who facilitated the escape of Duarte.
- The Veracruz Congress – The representatives that formed the past legislatures of the Veracruz Congress did not comply with their surveillance and counterbalance obligations against the Governor and his administration. The Congress not only approved the budget but also had access to reports on how the money was spent, and many times they neglected taking action.
- The Superior Auditing Body of the State – The Superior Auditing Body of Veracruz was responsible for checking how the Duarte administration bought and spent year on year. In spite of presenting a report to the Congress of Veracruz with the results and detected observations, it often didn’t duly investigate the contracts or actions, which permitted the diversion of millions in resources. Nor did it do the necessary follow up due to the observations that it did detect and make public.
- Business owners – The Duarte network’s corruption wasn’t merely transfers to bank accounts, rather mechanisms that pilfered resources through contracting businesses to carry out construction or provide services. There were business owners that were enlisted to sell goods at higher prices or to simulate construction, therefore facilitating the enrichment of Duarte and his accomplices at the expense of public funds.
- Public notaries – As Animal Político has documented, Duarte and the members of his network frequently used ghost businesses, that’s to say, businesses that didn’t exist. These businesses were created with the complicity of public notaries, who didn’t check that their associates and their activities were real.
- An opaque and closed-off procurement system – The Duarte administration operated a system of public procurement that was opaque and closed-off, with very little information available to the public. In order to find contracts, journalists often demanded them through freedom of information requests or they obtained them through leaks. It’s imperative that the Veracruz public procurement system changes and is more open, releasing information in an ongoing way to be able to monitor how it buys and spends.
- Mechanisms of intimidation and violence – The Duarte administration also was characterized by its use of mechanisms to intimidate journalists and activists – operated by criminal groups – who exposed the various acts of corruption. Violence and crimes against journalists, including murders, continue to go unpunished.
- Federal civil servants – Duarte not only diverted local resources, but also federal government resources destined for health services, education and security in the entity. Clear rules exist to spend these resources, as well as obligations to report expenses. It’s likely that federal civil servants detected irregularities in the spending of these resources and neglected to present the corresponding reports.
- Judges – The Judicial power plays a key role in the impunity of Javier Duarte’s network of corruption. Some journalists and activists have uncovered that some members of his network began appealing to judicial figures for protection to avoid being accused of corruption, like Duarte’s ex-secretary of Finance. There is also a possibility that Javier Duarte turned to a judge to delay his extradition to Mexico. The Mexican judicial branch must not be another accomplice. It cannot allow the mechanisms that are used to protect human rights, to instead be used for impunity.
The most worrying thing about this list – that is by no means exhaustive – is that many of these actors have equivalents in other Mexican entities. The modus operandi of Duarte’s network of corruption could be replicated in the other 31 entities in the country, as well as within the Federal Government. The institutions that make up the National Anticorruption System (SNA) will take into account the results of these investigations, in order to design a reliable national policy that effectively dismantles the networks of corruption that operate in the country.