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Transformation Is More Than Just Change


Every attempt the government claims it has taken to combat the problem has so far ended in failure. Why? Because corruption cannot be fought by decrees, or laws, without ethics or morals. Attempting to do so is merely to flail against the wind.

A magistrate of the H. Superior Justice Tribunal of the State of Morelos commented to me that the law "is the minimal expression of morality that is required to permit society to function." It follows that the constant violations of the law are then a lack of morality. Ergo, no one respects the law.

The Secretary of Public Works, Arely Gomez, recently made a statement that caught my attention because it was the first of its kind from an official who heads a secretariat of the government. She said, "To put an end to acts of corruption requires a cultural change and a holistic focus." But I must ask, what does she mean by this?

She did not elaborate, and so we might speculate that she is thinking of deep  change in legal structures but also socio-cultural changes. Mexicans are not all in agreement that the problem of corruption is linked to culture. But in fact in culture we can find well established principle of the dreadful axiom "He who does not bribe does not thrive." We have grown up with this mantra. We think about it all the time. It is a fundamental part of the cost of doing business of all kinds. Corruption flows from all parts.

And so, yes, a deep change is what is required. But what we are really after is transformation, which is not a word I have heard as part of any proposal or holistic solution. Transformation is totalitarian. It means that he who steals, steals no more. This is an outcome of a personal decision - freely taken, a result of thought and conscience - to cease participating in corruption. This is a task for real men and women, not for the weak-willed or cowardly. It will take people of character and no one else.

The "Thrive Without Bribes" program, which is presently preparing judges and magistrates of the H. Superior Justice Tribunal of the State of Morelos, is working to contribute to this program of change that Secretary Arely Gomez spoke about. Thrive Without Bribes is working toward a structural and foundational change in order to fight corruption. In a word, we want transformation. That is the heart of the matter.

Daniel Valles is a journalist and commentator based in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and a regular contributor to The Media Project. He can be reached on Twitter at @elmeoyodlasunto and by email at

Photo credit: Flickr user Victor.

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