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To the Rising Middle Class of Guanajuato, Mexico – and its compliance officers

The front page of the New York Times featured a long article this week about the new middle class life you are creating in Guanajuato based on employment by multinationals and investment in education. Your success is something to be celebrated.

Among the struggles for a better life is your fight against corruption. The “imported meritocracy of international business” contrasts with the old way: “In a country where connections and corruption are still common tools of enrichment, many people here are beginning to believe they can get ahead through study and hard work. “

Corruption, however, stands in the way.

I thought of this when I read about the wife who started her own business after her husband’s job at the multinational provided the stability and credit. As commonly happens for the rising middle class, she wants better government but is frustrated by the old ways. When she went to the police station to file a complaint over her stolen mobile phone, the police did nothing — just as her father warned her. She refused to give up: “[My father] was right. But next time it happens I want my complaint to be there. I’m trying to make a living here and I want a legal life.”

I’m trying to make a living here and I want a legal life.

So many people and businesses around the world frustrated by corruption feel the same way. The rising middle class, literally billions of people, want education and advancement by merit alone. And businesses everywhere want to sell products and services based on the best quality and price, not the best pay offs. While laws exists and prosecutions happen, the momentum really depends on the will of communities to persist in fighting corruption over time.

In Guanajuato today, there are compliance officers (COs) working in multinationals companies who are on your side. COs around the world are paid and trained to prevent, detect and stop bribery, pay offs, kickbacks and shake downs. These COs and their companies share your desire for a world where merit leads to advancement and success. I hope you and the COs will meet and explore your common goals.

Together you and the compliance officers can grow Guanajuato into a “bribe-free zone” to match its commercial expansion. Over the past decades, COs and anti-corruption organizations have learned many lessons.

I’m trying to make a living here and I want a legal life.

We hear you. And know this: Compliance officers everywhere and the wider community understand your wish, and hope for your success. Let the world know how you are doing and what we can do to help you.


Michael Scher is a contributing editor of the FCPA Blog. He has over three decades of experience as a senior compliance officer and attorney for international transactions. He is affiliated with ethiXbase, the owner of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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1 Comment

  1. Michael, I found your article very encouraging, we still have a long way to go, but as you know I am convinced that trade can be a great force of change and Mexico is under that way. Corruption is a monster of many heads and to battle it requires to be stubborn and probably the best tool against it is education, with better schools better citizens.

    Best regards.

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