Corruptour, Mexico City's new attraction. Mexico City's new attraction.

In Mexico, corruption is a tourist attraction

Corruptour takes sightseers to 10 sites emblematic of corruption

One might say that a new tourist attraction in Mexico City is fitting for a country that has dropped 28 places on an international corruption index.

The attraction is the Corruptour, a concept that first surfaced in Monterrey, Nuevo León, in 2014.

The latest iteration is a modified 1998 school bus donated by an American school that will tour the country’s capital, taking its 27 passengers past 10 of the most emblematic buildings and sites of alleged corruption in recent Mexican history.

The first stop is Mexico’s own white house. The “Casa Blanca” is an 86-million-peso house owned by former actress and first lady of the nation, Angélica Rivera. It gained worldwide infamy in 2014 in one of the first corruption scandals of the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto. The president himself apologized to the nation two years later for the scandal, although no wrongdoing has ever been proved.

The next stop is the Estela de Luz, a 1.3-billion-peso monument in Mexico City built to commemorate the bicentenary of Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule. The monument was delivered more than one year after the bicentennial celebrations, and cost 197% more than its original budget.

Next up is the headquarters of the Mexican Institute of Social Security, known as IMSS, and widely regarded as an example of deficient public services. Despite being financed by millions of pesos in workers’ contributions, the institute has lost millions in the purchase of drugs. In 2012, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) declared that the institution could save 36% of its expenses if corruption were to be addressed.

The fourth stop is a building located at 222 Paseo de la Reforma, the headquarters of the Spanish construction firm OHL, a prominent government contractor in the construction and operation of highways. OHL executives and officials of the State of México government were embroiled in a corruption scandal less than two years ago.

On the corner of the streets of Reforma and Bucareli lies an unofficial “anti-monument” honoring the 43 students from Ayotzinapa and the fifth stop on the tour. The students disappeared in a mass kidnapping in Iguala, Guerrero, on September 26, 2014. The case remains open and has become one of the most blatant occurrences in recent memory of collusion between government officials and organized crime.

Following Bucareli street the Corruptour arrives at its sixth attraction, the headquarters of the Interior Secretariat, described by the tour guides as the “more political than governmental” operations center of Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, who has been identified as a presidential hopeful for the 2018 election.

Stop seven is the Balderas station of the city’s subway system, a reminder of the flawed Line 12, a result of alleged embezzlement during former mayor Marcelo Ebrard’s administration.

The Corruptour then continues to the headquarters of the city’s Attorney General’s office, chosen by tour organizers for its inaction during a highly publicized series of videotaped scandals involving city officials during the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, another 2018 presidential hopeful.

The second to last stop is the building housing the offices of television network Televisa, singled out for its perceived chummy relationship with the federal government.

The final stop is the Senate of the Republic on the corner of the emblematic Paseo de la Reforma and Insurgentes, a construction project that cost 4.9 billion pesos, rather more than its originally approved cost of a mere 1.7 billion.

An inaugural tour was offered on Sunday, giving journalists a first look at an attraction that will open to the general public on Sunday.

Emilio Álvarez Icaza, former executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and a supporter of the project, also joined the maiden Corruptour, telling the newspaper Reforma that he saw the corruption trail as “an excellent exercise” and that it was hard to choose only 10 sites, there being “an enormous number of them.”

The unique, new view of Mexico’s history will be offered with free tours every Sunday at 3 and 5:00pm, departing from the National Anthropology Museum.

Source: Reforma (sp), La Silla Rota (sp), Animal Político (sp)

Reader forum

The forum is available to logged-in subscribers only.