Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Collective Blame

Today's editorial at El Universal isn't buying the idea that the corruption ranking stems from Mexicans' collective responsibility.
It is insisted that Mexicans in general suffer from [a corrupt character], when in reality it is the authorities of all of the political parties that allow its perpetuation as accomplices or simple spectators.
This follows an opinion piece yesterday from Ernesto López Portillo, which essentially made the opposite case (though before the ranking was known) about the causes of insecurity:
A few days ago I was riding in a taxi and the same driver that complaining about the bad government because of the insecurity was running every stop sign he could, increasing his insecurity and that of everyone else. We must carry out a job of bottom up and vice versa. The co-production of healthy living and of security goes in both direction. The leadership to promote it and make it a reality must come from within and outside of the public domain...So, dear reader, the next time you go out on the street, look in the mirror and ask yourselves if you are a producer of insecurity or security.
I agree with López Portillo that it would be nice if there was more respect for traffic laws, but I think to a certain extant this complaint is rote in Mexico. Furthermore, I'm not convinced of the link between respect for traffic laws and the society-wide existence of corruption or a bad security climate. That's a broken window too far. I remember being blown away by the way people drove in Santiago, far more than when I arrived here in Torreón, yet Chile was Latin America's least corrupt country, and is much less violent than Mexico. Personally, I break traffic laws on a daily basis (though none too grave), but that doesn't make me more tolerant of official malfeasance. I guess my lead foot makes me something of a hypocrite, but not a bad citizen (at least not in the watchdog sense). There's no reason that a society-wide improvement in respect for rules has to be a prerequisite for a Mexico that is more vigilant in penalizing corruption right now.

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