The new Global Corruption Barometer from Transparency International. The new Global Corruption Barometer from Transparency International.

Among 20 countries, MX leads for bribery

New report also found strong social stigma against reporting corruption

The payment of bribes to access basic public services is more common in Mexico than any other country in the region, according to a new report on corruption in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Completed by global anti-corruption coalition Transparency International, the report concluded that Mexico is the worst offender among the 20 countries it surveyed, and it also fared poorly on other corruption indicators.

More than 20,000 people across the region were polled for the report, entitled People and Corruption: Latin America and the Caribbean.

Fifty-one per cent of Mexicans surveyed said when accessing public services over the previous 12 months they had to pay a bribe. That figure placed the country ahead of the Dominican Republic, which came in second worst at 46%, while most other countries in the region recorded rates between 20 and 40%.

In the region as a whole approximately one out of every three people surveyed had paid a bribe to access government services in the past year although the figure went as low as 6% in Trinidad and Tobago and 11% in Brazil.

The services Mexicans most frequently pay bribes for are related to schools, health care, personal documentation and utilities, the report said. Between 21 and 30% of Mexican respondents also said that they had paid bribes to the police while between 1 and 10% said they had done so in court-related matters.

Both the rich and the poor paid bribes, the report said, but those of limited economic means did so at a slightly higher rate and it had a much greater impact on their finances.


The survey also found that there is more social stigma against people reporting corruption in Mexico than most other countries.

At 49%, under half the respondents said it was socially acceptable to report a case of corruption, placing Mexico fourth lowest on the list.

The director of Transparency International in Mexico told the newspaper El Economista that the figures confirmed the level of institutional deterioration that has occurred at a municipal and state level.

“Mexico being a federation, no one is surprised that state and municipal administrations ask for bribes to expedite procedures and services. . .” Eduardo Bohórquez said.

He added that the practice can place people in a vulnerable situation as it may determine whether an essential service such as water is supplied, or even enable access to justice.

“Corruption and impunity are real threats to the democratic model,” Bohórquez concluded.

Across the region, police and elected representatives were seen as the most corrupt members of society, a finding supported by Mexican respondents with a majority rating the government’s record on fighting corruption “very bad” or “fairly bad” while the overall perception of corruption within the police was high.

Presenting the report in Berlin, Germany, the chair of Transparency International said “the people of Latin America and the Caribbean are being let down by their governments, their political class and their private-sector leaders.”

José Ugaz also said that almost two-thirds of respondents indicated that corruption had increased in their countries in the year preceding the survey, a figure that represents a concerning upward trend.

While the number was slightly lower in Mexico at 61%, it may be representative of long entrenched corruption.

“This report shows that citizens’ demands for accountability and transparency are not being met by their leaders,” Ugaz said, adding that “governments must do more to root out corruption at all levels.”

The one positive to come out of the report for Mexico was that 74% of respondents said that ordinary people could make a difference in the fight against corruption.

“A strong, clean and transparent judicial system will be vital for sustaining this public engagement, with the public wanting to see public officials receive due punishment for any crimes committed,” the report reads.

“Without this, citizens will become further disillusioned with the governance system in their country . . . .”

Source: El Economista (sp)

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  • David Nichols

    “Governments must do more to root out corruption at all levels”…
    “Physician heal thyself”…
    Does anybody really expect corrupt government officials to expose their own corruption and that of their friends…?

    • Fester N Boyle

      Mexico is clearly a failed country, more like an area filled with Middle Ages kingdoms and armed gangs of bandits. The US should seize the northern band of states and build the wall from roughly Monterrey/Reynosa to Mazatlan. The US is already hosting a sizeable percent of the Mexican population as illegal refugees fleeing Mexican lawlessness. Those people can be returned to this area and have US culture and laws imposed on them.
      The Mexicans could still thieve from their subjects southward.

  • There is no reason to pay or receive bribes, both actions are a crime. I have lived 32 years in Mexico and I never pay bribes, I complain the persons superiors if someone suggests a bribe. I have had people arrested for asking for a bribe. If you are legal, license, license registration, insurance, etc you never have reason to pay a bribe. Most people pay bribes to avoid a traffic ticket, but if you insist on the ticket and complain about the offer for a bribe you probably will not pay a ticket either. I am an attorney and I won’t allow my clients to pay bribes and I have dropped clients for suggesting it.

    • TioDon

      “I have lived 32 years in Mexico and I never pay bribes,”


      • And you are a f***ing idiot. You don’t know me and you don’t know Mexico. This type of thing varies depending on where you live, but it has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. I am not alone for refusing all bribery – I know many other professionals that say the same thing. Most of the petty bribery in Mexico is for illegal activity. If you have your documents in order, no policeman can solicit a bribe. If you don’t commit illegal acts, why would you need to pay a bribe?

        • Gabriel Heiser

          To facilitate government services, that’s why. A person in control can drag their feet interminably or expedite what you need, if you pay them a “little extra.” Has nothing to do with anything illegal, in this type of situation. The article specifically mentions this.

          • There are many recourses for that type of problem. Most government processes, such as applying for a permit are time sensitive. If after 15 days or in some 45 days the authority has not responded, the answer is considered affirmative and you can act as if the permit was approved. When a government authority does not issue you a permit in writing without legally founded reasons, you can present a “recurso de revisión” this kicks the matter up to that person’s supervisor. In the case of someone suggesting a payment of some kind that almost always work. If the authority denies you a permit without legal foundation, you present a “demanda” to the Tribunal Contencisos Administrativo. If that doesn’t work, you promote an amparo to protect your constitutional rights from illegal acts of the authority. No one that acts legally need participate in an illegal activity to advance their objective. You may need a good attorney, but the actions I mention above are in every attorney’s arsenal and they are very effective. Now, many times bribes are paid to overlook an omission or absence of a legal condition in order to obtain a permit or authorization. But that is very dangerous and easily detectable.

          • Beau

            C’mon Glen- we are talking about Mexico here. Nice advice but if I have to follow your suggestion, that means 3-4months without water!- $200.00 pesos bribe can solve my problem in 2 days without so much paperwork. In Mexico, you do do business with a handshake…. and a bill.

          • And you are part of the problem.

          • Beau

            Yes, yes and yes. I bribe one (just a little) not 4 federal agencies to help me get water service. If you are an attorney, you should know that in Mexico proving “cohecho” takes an act of Congress. Look at the fleecing of the Mexican coffers at the hands of EPN and 16 State Governors, 2 in jail, 14 enjoying their new life in Europe. I commend your honesty, but it is, what it is. Some government employees have not been paid in months because “there is no budget”…how do they feed their families?- So, rather than feeling guilty, I’ll like to think his family will enjoy some good tacos for dinner.

  • Pete Larson

    Where did the previous comments go?

  • michael

    Petty bribery is the worst part of living in Mexico. people just accept the fact without complaint most of the time. Corruption is your destruction.

  • Color me skeptical of this report. I’ve lived in Mexico almost two decades, been a citizen since 2005, and I’ve never had to pay a bribe for anything whatsoever. In fact, in my first year here, before I knew better, I attempted to pay one, and it was handed back to me!

  • kallen

    Only 51%. I would have guessed much higher. I’ve been told by folks here in BCS, Mexico that corruption is expected of a person that lands a government job of any sort. If that person DOESN’T leverage the position to enrich themselves then they’re considered buffoons and a failure by friends and family. It will take a huge cultural shift to change this and frankly, I don’t think Mexico or its people really want it; too many benefit from its practice.

  • cooncats

    Corruption is killing Mexico, period. And it has exploded since the people stupidly put the PRI back in control.

  • WestCoastHwy

    Viva Mexico; “When in Rome”, enough of the cliches, let’s talk about the sexual favors! I’ve heard that it’s so……. rampant in Mexico it makes Italy look like a Saint.

    You need to remember, “Mexican live by the hour.” Try this cliche, “hand to mouth”, but use your imagination! Oh, and don’t forget that Guadalupe is looking out for the future and protecting you so don’t worry about mañana.

  • Mark Dunn

    I have experienced petty corruption, particularly near or in CDMX involving either transito or Federal Police. A running video cam usually eliminates charges. What disturbs me is simple corruption, particularly in the political and government agencies. Read any edition of of this online news and witness it weeks upon weeks, and the head of agencies denying corruption among their minions. It seems that any charges ever brought seem to vaporize. I also allow that “corruption” has cultural definitions. For instance, is the financing of elections in the USA and many other democracies corrupt? While I have also “never” paid a bribe in Mexico, it is the institutionalized corruption across many nations, which is also so blatant here, that I find very discouraging.