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Grand corruption in Mexico: The convenient disappearance of an agrarian community

Author:

Turid Hagene

Oslo Metropolitan University, NO
About Turid

Turid Hagene is professor emerita at Oslo Metropolitan University, Depart-ment of international studies and interpretation. She has carried out ethno-graphic research in a pueblo originario on the outskirts of Mexico City between 2003 and 2018, researching a series of different topics like democracy and par-ticipation, electoral practices and political clientelism, rumour and gossip, de-mocracy and the environment, ritual language.

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Abstract

This article offers an exemplary case of grand corruption in Mexico, narrating the story of how a series of actors and institutions at all levels collaborated to obtain favours, while dispossessing an agrarian community of its property rights, and replacing its elected Commissariat with a person of their choice, paying him the equivalent of US$3 million. This manoeuvre gave right of way to President Peña Nieto’s interurban train, at the risk of ruining the community’s water supply. The study argues that we should distinguish the concept of grand from that of petty corruption. It sees neopatrimonialism as a subtype of grand corruption, describing complex networks of actors across several institutions and levels, which operate the corrupt practices, with agency at all levels. President López Obrador won the 2018 election on a promise to fight corruption. This study illustrates the difficulties he will encounter trying to realize this promise, while suggesting that combatting impunity would constitute a promising start.

Resumen: Gran corrupción en México: La conveniente desaparición de una comunidad agraria

Este artículo ofrece un caso ejemplar de gran corrupción en México. Narra la historia de cómo una serie de actores e instituciones de todos los niveles colaboraron para obtener favores, mientras despojaban de sus derechos de propiedad a una comunidad agraria y reemplazaban a su comisariado electo por una persona de su preferencia, pagándole el equivalente a 3 millones de dólares estadounidenses. Esta maniobra dió paso al tren interurbano del Presidente Peña Nieto, a riesgo de arruinar el suministro de agua de la comunidad. El estudio argumenta que debemos distinguir el concepto de gran corrupción del de corrupción menor. Considera el neopatrimonialismo como un subtipo de gran corrupción, que describe redes complejas de actores en varias instituciones y niveles, que operan bajo prácticas corruptas, con agencia en todos los niveles. El presidente López Obrador ganó las elecciones de 2018 con la promesa de luchar contra la corrupción. Este estudio ilustra las dificultades que encontrará al tratar de cumplir esta promesa, mientras sugiere que combatir la impunidad constituiría un comienzo prometedor.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.32992/erlacs.10452
How to Cite: Hagene, T. (2019). Grand corruption in Mexico: The convenient disappearance of an agrarian community. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, (108), 43–64. DOI: http://doi.org/10.32992/erlacs.10452
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Published on 11 Nov 2019.
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