Sergio Raul Arroyo Garcia, director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), has been summoned for questioning by the Congress’ Permanent Commission.
The Commission wants to hear about alleged bribes by Walmart de Mexico to open stores near Teotihuacan, and the possible damage this might have caused to UNESCO World Heritage pre-Hispanic monuments.
According to correspondence from October 2005, Walmart de Mexico was asked to donate 500,000 pesos (about $44,000) to INAH and give a personal gift of 400,000 pesos (about $35,000) to allow the company to develop a retail center near Teotihuacan. Lawmakers will also ask about the permits given to Walmart to open stores in other historical sites such as Cholula in Puebla State and Amecameca in the State of Mexico.
Arroyo Garcia and current governor of Morelos State, Graco Ramírez, are the first Mexican officials mentioned in two e-mails from a Mexican lawyer to Walmart International’s legal representative, Maritza Munich. Ramirez, who has denied any involvement with the U.S. retailer or its Mexican affiliate, won’t be summoned by the Congress since it lacks the legal means to call state governors.
With an anti-corruption drive at the top of the presidential agenda, Mexico is expected to move toward tougher enforcement. Lack of controls at the local level, compared to the existing ones at federal level, are considered the biggest obstacle to more transparency.
Maria Dolores Hernandez J. is a researcher for the ethiXbase.