Comparing Peru and Mexico in the Lava Jato corruption scandal
Latin American countries have reacted to the Lava Jato corruption scandal in differing ways. Some were quick to hold accountable the company and the public officials involved. Others’ actions were less decisive. This chapter explores the possible reasons for such variations in two countries: Peru and Mexico. Thus far, Peruvian authorities have initiated criminal investigations, launched institutional reforms, and received a great deal of public support. In contrast, Mexico’s authorities have managed to impose only administrative sanctions, with no criminal convictions. We attempt to explain this diversity by looking at two different factors: how the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht operated in each country and how each country implemented its anti-corruption framework. The Peruvian and Mexican cases show that countries must do more than simply enact laws. Better implementation and enforcement, with due respect to the rule of law, are necessary, especially in the presence of powerful, corrupt economic actors. But rules and enforcement are not enough without the political will to work towards transparency. This chapter sheds light on the effects of differing dynamics between economic power, institutional frameworks, and political will in Peru and Mexico.