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Spending on bribes rises in Mexico

April 17, 2008 |  7:10 pm

Mexicans are spending more on bribes than they were a couple of years ago.

Mexicans paid the equivalent of about $2.6 billion in bribes last year, according to the nonprofit group Transparency Mexico. That’s 42% higher than two years earlier and an average of more than $24 for each of Mexico’s 105 million people.

Much of the money went to fix parking tickets, get garbage collected or secure parking spots from the legions of informal attendants who block off spaces and charge for them.

Corruption in Mexico is rife and the informal economy huge. If you’re stopped for a traffic infraction, it’s often cheaper and easier to pull out your wallet than to go to the station to face all the paperwork.

Bribes are paid for a wide range of activities, Transparency Mexico found. People pay them to get telephone service installed, loans approved, to prevent illegally parked cars from getting clamped or to sell things on the street without authorization.

The survey showed that 197 million bribes were paid nationwide last year, a big jump from the 115 million in 2005. But while people here are paying more bribes than they did two years ago, they are spending less on each. The average bribe was about $13, compared with $17 in 2005.

The poll was based on interviews with 16,000 people around the country in December. It has a margin of error of less than 1 percentage point.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

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