Breaking Guinness records is a popular sport among many Mexicans but the latest bid is a little different: former Veracruz governor Javier Duarte has been nominated as the most corrupt person in the world.
Ernesto Villanueva, a researcher at the National Anti-corruption Organization, proposed the nomination, comparing Duarte’s corruption to that of the former leaders of Zaire and Senegal.
“I say this seriously, it’s no joke. Javier Duarte has been proposed . . . as the most corrupt person in the world,” he told a press conference.
Villanueva believes Duarte’s win is all but certain due to his having left the state of Veracruz on the brink of bankruptcy.
Duarte is currently being sought by the Mexican authorities for illegal enrichment and organized crime. The state’s debt increased by almost 1.5 billion pesos during his term as governor between 2010 and 2016.
Villanueva said Duarte’s behavior is far from being an anomaly: 10 other governors have been investigated for corruption and plundering US $15 billion since 2010.
The Guinness nomination has at least one critic.
The director of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (Imco) thinks it would be terrible if Duarte were to receive that title.
Max Kaiser said it might sound funny but questioned putting a Mexican leader on a par with the worst rulers in African history. “. . . if the prize is granted it will be terrible not only for Veracruz, but for Mexico as well.”
A Veracruz-based journalist disagreed with Kaiser, telling the newspaper El Financiero that citizens of the state already consider Duarte as the most disgraceful of their governors.
The people of Veracruz welcomed the news, said Alejandro Aguirre. “. . . anything that leads [Duarte] to the pyre, anything said about him that can be seen as punishment is well received” in Veracruz.
So far the Guinness World Records organization has made no official announcement about the corruption category, which does not appear on its website. The closest related category is the world’s most corrupt country. Somalia and North Korea shared that honor, winning the title in 2014.
Nonetheless, Villanueva said the official announcement will be made by the end of the month.