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transparency website Four legislators lead the way.

Lawmakers invited to divulge assets

Website presents declarations of assets, interests and taxes

Four federal lawmakers are breaking new ground in the name of transparency this week following the launch of a website that offers details of their personal finances and interests.

Two senators and two deputies have jumped on the transparency bandwagon, revealing everything from their credit card balances to contacts they have had with special-interest groups.

Legislador Transparente, or Transparent Legislator, is a private and public-sector initiative that invites politicians to submit three declarations for public scrutiny: assets, interests and taxation.

The ultimate goal is that the declaration of such information will become mandatory and shine a light on the source of resources that public servants receive during the course of their careers.

The website is part of a project called #3de3 and put together by the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a public policy research organization, and Transparencia Mexicana, an anti-corruption group, with backing from the Business Coordination Council (CCE) and the support of some legislators.

CCE president Gerardo Gutiérrez Candiani is pushing for one more initiative in the march against corruption: modification of the law that gives lawmakers immunity from legal process, called the fuero. He got some backing yesterday from Senate President Miguel Barbosa, who said the entire caucus of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) would like to see the fuero removed from all positions, including that of the president.

The PRD senator who declared his assets and interests on the new website this week recalled that the fuero was initially intended to protect the freedom of speech of legislators in the face of threats by an authoritarian government. But today, Zoé Robledo Aburto pointed out, “it has become a license for impunity.”

National Action Party Senator Laura Rojas, who has also gone public with her personal finances and interests, said Mexico is going through a period of crisis in terms of the credibility of the political class, creating a profound lack of confidence among citizens.

For a long time, she said, public service has been more an instrument for empowerment and self-enrichment than for the public good. But in future, she added, citizens and institutions will be able to count on new tools to prevent and combat corruption.

The two other politicians on the new website are PRD Deputy Fernando Belaunzarán Méndez and PAN Deputy Fernando Rodríguez Doval.

Sources: El Universal (sp), Milenio (sp)

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