Letting the crooks get away with it
Would you spend nine years in jail if, like former Veracruz state Gov. Javier Duarte, you got to keep the millions you stole? asked Yuriria Sierra. That’s the question making the rounds on Mexican social media. Duarte is believed to have embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars from state coffers while in office from 2010 to 2016. Last week, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for money laundering and given a fine of a measly $3,100. Meanwhile, his wife continues to live in London’s swank Belgravia neighborhood, where the rent costs some $19,000 a month. Faced with the anger of outraged Veracruzanos, who feel the punishment is far too light, officials pointed out that they also seized 41 properties from Duarte. Still, that doesn’t make reparations to the citizens he deprived of services. And with good behavior, Duarte is likely to get out of prison in three years, ready to start enjoying his loot. Nor is his the only such case. Former teachers’ union boss Elba Esther Gordillo, arrested in 2013 for embezzling $200 million, had all her charges dismissed in August and gets to keep the cash. “What was sold to us as a blow against corruption ended as another case of rampant impunity.” Those who steal enough money can buy their own justice.