The mayor cuts some Kings Day cake. The mayor cuts some Kings Day cake.

Cancún’s roscagate provokes an outcry

The city spent 4.5 million pesos to give away 16,000 Kings Day cakes

The celebration of Three Kings Day in Cancún turned out to be the ideal opportunity for the municipal government to commit what has been called a perfect crime.


On January 6, the administration of Mayor Remberto Estrada Barba spent close to 4.5 million pesos (over US $230,000) on Roscas de Reyes, the traditional Kings Day cake, in an untraceable operation that has unleashed an outcry from political and citizens’ organizations.

Citizens for Transparency (Citra) demanded that Estrada tell the citizens of Cancún about when, where, to whom, how many and why the 16,000 cakes were handed out.

“It’s unacceptable . . . the bidding process has to be made public. You can’t spend almost 4.5 million pesos on Roscas de Reyes. It’s unacceptable,” said Citra director Cynthia Dehesa.

For Tulio Arroyo Marroquín, director of an environmental group, the purchase of the cakes from the firm Control Operativo “is the perfect crime,” there being no way to determine whether the cakes were delivered.

“The key with this administration is to be suspicious,” continued the activist, adding that “we must fight to make them accountable, and one must spend energy and time on finding out if their announcements are true and what lies behind them.”


Estrada’s administration boasted that it was the first to implement an anti-corruption plan and promote accountability, said Carlos Montalbán Colón, state leader of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD). But, he charged, the only people who benefitted by roscagate, as it is being called, are members of the Green Ecologist Party, to which the mayor belongs.

Similarly, the Cancún leader of the National Action Party (PAN) said the king’s cake scandal was just one of many.

“We’re concerned by the level of spending, not only with the roscas, but in the rental of police patrol cars, among other issues,” said Eduardo Pacho Gallegos, who said the gift of cake was solely political.

Source: El Universal (sp)

Stories from our archives that you might enjoy

  • W. Jones Jordan

    Although they are usually referred to as ‘los reyes’ in México, I believe they are more often called the Maji or the three Wise Men in the United States. Americans are often confused by references to Lima as ‘the city of kings’ when Lima never had a King of any sort. Vice-‘kings’ (Virreyes) of course.

  • cooncats

    And still more corruption….

  • Tom Steele

    Well, that’s about 281 pesos per cake or US 14 per cake which is expensive, depending on the size of the cake. Check his bank accounts to see if there was a large deposit at the time. He’s a public official and that should be public access.

  • K. Chris C.

    Stealers be stealin’.

    But at least they didn’t pocket trillions plundering and murdering another country, two actually; Iraq and Afghanistan.

    An American citizen, not US subject.

  • kallen

    Pilfering public coffers is ingrained in Mexican culture. A cultural change such as this will be difficult to overcome. Those of us who live in Mexico see this aspect of their culture at all levels of society: it’s why there is a locals price and a gringo price.

  • Henry Wilson

    A friend has worked in the hotel industry in Cancun for many years. He used to love it. No longer. The entire “Maya Caribe” is being taken over by the Zetas crime syndicate. The local and state governments, like Guerrero and Acapulco, are now totally corrupt and the lives of the locals are in danger every day. He’s desperately trying to get out.