In Mexico Constuction and Embezzlement Go Hand in Hand

Posted on July 26, 2015


From Hidden Dangers, Mexico on the Brink of Disaster

Throughout Mexico legislators and governors campaign on the merits of past and future highways, bridges, agriculture, and potable water, the federal government includes financing in its budget projections, the money is appropriated, but all too often the projects never are implemented because of incomplete tramites (required procedures), costly studies that may or may not have taken place, or the funds are diverted for election purposes or other uses.

President Fox’s much ballyhooed cement floors for rural homes project was marred by reports that contractors colluded with government inspectors to dilute the cement-sand ratio when installing the floors. They then sold the unused cement powder for additional profit. The floors soon began to break apart, crumble under the weight of furniture or footsteps, and lose their texture, leaving sandy residue. Acapulco artist Esther Vázquez copied a federal audit report that revealed that in the state of Guerrero, local officials and local contractors embezzled nearly Mex$150 million from the cement floors project.

Other scams perpetrated by government-allied private contractors included highway projects that failed to comply with guidelines for roadbed construction or used inferior and less costly materials than authorized. Others diverted diesel, vehicles, and manpower to other uses. Roads that should have lasted for ten or twenty years crumbled from lack of maintenance and shoddy construction. Citizen protests usually evoke more promises than results, although, occasionally a government agency will file charges against an alcalde or municipal president for graft or misappropriation of funds; however, prosecution typically winds up strangled by legal challenges or bureaucratic procedures and few convictions occur.