Mexico's peacebuilders: Eduardo Bohórquez


Director, Transparency International Mexico 
Eduardo was born in Mexico City and has a Major in Political Science and Public Administration from the National Autonomous University (UNAM) and a Master in Development from the University of Cambridge. He is better known for co-founding and directing the Mexican chapter of Transparency International for more than fifteen years. He has participated in the development of innovative systems to fight corruption in a country like Mexico, where the problem is so complex.

 

What issues motivate you? 

My main challenge is transforming a country that considers itself corrupt. Having lived outside of Mexico, I know that other countries faced similar problems and built solutions for them. There was nothing unusual in the genetic code of the Finns or Danes, except having the luxury of putting people together to solve big challenges. I find it motivating to be part of an innovative community that knows and has experienced that some things can change for the better.

Why is it important to have low levels of corruption to achieve peace?

Corruption is corrosive and weakens any institution. The social pact is weakened and in some places broken. When rights are not met in practice, what gets put in its place is a process of defending privileges. Another consequence of corruption is that it hinders the effective use of public resources for such important Eduardo was born in Mexico City and has a Major in Political Science and Public Administration from the National Autonomous University (UNAM) and a Master in Development from the University of Cambridge. He is better known for co-founding and directing the Mexican chapter of Transparency International for more than fifteen years. He has participated in the development of innovative systems to fight corruption in a country like Mexico, where the problem is so complex. purposes as peacebuilding. It decreases public spending on education, health and safety, among others.

See the history of peace in Mexico with our interactive maps

Is it possible to end corruption with policies focused on transparency?

 No. We have used the term transparency as a euphemism for other things, for example, absence of corruption. The D.F. is a perfect example. It ranks number one in terms of transparency but very low in corruption. It is counterintuitive because for years we have argued that transparency is one of the best antidotes to corruption. But, to be very open is not necessarily to be very honest. In fact, being very open can lead one to become very cynical. I do what I want, I'm unpunished, but everyone knows. Transparency does not solve corruption on its own, but it can provide tools to help create accountability.

What is our greatest challenge to fight corruption?

We want to solve all problems simultaneously. What if instead of facing a big problem we turn it into ten less important problems that together comprise the biggest problem. For example, it is easier to design strategies to address corruption in procurement, services and procedures, traffic cops and public ministries, instead of having a big anti-corruption strategy. Transparency does not solve corruption on its own, but it can provide tools to help create accountability. It is a matter of efficiency and above all, strategy. No country has solved the issue of corruption in the abstract, everyone proceeds by limiting specific problems, which may generate other but less complex issues.

Are we creating better solutions?

Yes, a good example is the Anti-Corruption System. The original proposal from various political groups was to have a great Anti-Corruption tsar and what we persuaded legislators was that what we really needed was an AntiCorruption system. Instead of having a single very powerful institution, with great autonomy, it is actually a set of institutions that solve specific problems. Another example is the Consejo Coordinador Empresarial, which recently published a set of guidelines for companies to fight corruption in Mexico. The private sector was more used to denounce corruption but now they have acknowledged to be part of the problem: the side that pays the bribe.

Are there conditions in place to end corruption in Mexico?

I think so. Now no one has to pay a bribe for having a passport issued. That means that the reform of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Transparency International Mexico has been done right. What we cannot do so easily is to solve corruption at all levels, in all subjects, at the same time. It is necessary to prioritize and focus.

How can civil society participate in this battle?

Citizens can help choose priorities; usually we do not ask them what they need. Maybe they need to do something less intensive than what we imagine when we talk about participation. A nice example is the one we learned in the nurseries of the Mexican Institute for Social Security (IMSS). We designed a model in which parents were required to help improve the quality of childcare. This will take them two hours and not two years.

What context do you imagine in Mexico over the next 10 years? And within that context, what gives you hope?

As Jesus Reyes Heroics said, "All that resists, supports." The fact that there is a political class so affected by corruption with such low levels of institutional and social confidence is fertile ground for innovation. Today we have more information technology than ever before at a very low cost, with pockets of public information that no society ever had until the twenty-first century. Only then could we have seen so many organized movements without a visible leader. We have many problems to solve but these conditions have never existed before in the world.

If you had unlimited resources, what would you support in order to have peace in Mexico?

 I will change the question. I like scarcity. Understand that it is not a problem of resources but of strategy. When I first approached the issue of security, the talk was about guns, vests and patrols. Then we realized that there was a need to develop prevention strategies. There are many things that can be done that have nothing to do with crime and violence but that can generate secure environments. In reality no public policy is comprehensive when it gets implemented. The question I would ask is; knowing that we have so few resources, how can we coordinate businesses, citizens, politicians and resources to solve challenges?

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