An organization of Mexican civil society groups are gearing up for a seemingly innocent anti-corruption campaign when, in reality, they may end up hurting efforts to expand freedom, rule of law, and capitalism. This is not the first organization in the region, nor will it be the last, to dedicate itself to uncovering corruption. There are many groups in Latin America and in just about every country in the world. But are they really just focused on exposing government and corporate corruption – a worthwhile effort – or do they have another, more ideologically driven agenda that, at its core, is anathema to free market capitalism?
According to the website, Mexicoleaks is a tool allowing users to “send information of public interest media and civil organizations through secure technologies that guarantee the anonymity of the source” about corruption, lack of rule of law, and other somewhat amorphous topics. Once you submit information the data will be “verified, analyzed and published by our alliance partners, formed by civil society organizations and media.” Sounds innocent enough; however, you’ll need to dig a little deeper for its ideological moorings.
For example, alliance partners include an anti-fracking group; an organization that claims to support free enterprise with sponsors that include a major U.S. law firm; several entities lauding “sustainable development,” whatever that means, as well as a hodgepodge of even more groups with interesting links to corporate America. There was not one conservative or free-market organization in this NGO village. There was one global equity fund; however, never assume private equity funds are made up of free-market loving folks. Think George Soros.
Why should any of this matter to you? If you’re a freedom-loving American who wants to know what your government is doing with your money, or if you invest in mutual funds or stocks that have holdings in these countries, do your research. The same holds if you’re passionate about privacy – whatever that term means these days. What controls are these groups implementing to ensure that MexicoLeaks does not become a medium for unlawful snitching?
While I’m a huge supporter of transparency and rule of law, global civil society groups tend to be ideologically lopsided. The membership and causes that they represent are Left-leaning or, in some cases, clearly in the camp of pro-government statists. The corporate sector and free markets are the enemy, not the corrupt politicians, central governments, or in the case of Mexico, the drug and criminal cartels that control large sections of the country.
NGOs are non-elected. They are unaccountable to you, the taxpayer. They have networks that reach deep into Washington, DC that, in turn, lobby Congress to shape U.S. policy, laws, and regulations. In some cases these NGOs and networks such as Mexicoleaks, will target American corporations for alleged wrongdoings and drag them in to court to, in essence, extort millions and billions of dollars. Granted this is not the case with all NGOs, but there are a few rotten apples out there who will go to extremes to make a point and buck. Just ask Chevron what happens when an NGO runs amok. A U.S. federal judge ruled that efforts to expose alleged environmental wrongdoing by Chevron in Ecuador were a complete fraud. What is even more outrageous is that American lawyers helped Ecuador set up the scheme to, in essence, take money from Chevron shareholders.
The Mexicoleaks network of NGOs caught my attention because there is an Organization of American States (OAS) staff member on the board of directors of one its members. Why is an OAS employee a member of the board of one of these groups?
The OAS is U.S. taxpayer-funded international organization that has been around, in some form or another, since the late 19th century. Located in Washington, DC a few blocks from the White House, think of it as a mini-U.N. for Latin America and the Caribbean. As with the U.N., the OAS tends to be dominated by Leftist, pro-statists, anti-American governments whose diplomats say one thing in DC and another back home. Why? Because they need to be nice to Uncle Sam. He controls the Treasury, much-needed U.S. foreign assistance funding, loan guarantees as well as other funding mechanisms for projects in their respective countries. Again, your tax dollars.
Mexicoleaks appears to be taking a very one-sided approach to tackling the corruption problem. They are focusing on the one thing that holds the best promise to get Mexico out of the economic doldrums that it is in: free market capitalism. It makes absolutely no sense. Corporations are not the enemy. That is a Hollywood myth that the Left has been propagating for decades. Anyone who does business long enough in Mexico understands that the biggest obstacle facing Mexicans are failed Mexican institutions, lack of due process and rule of law. These are the some of the elements that fuel corruption Mexico, not the American companies.
“There is no turning back. If we don’t do this now, Mexico will cease to be a viable country in the future,” says Mexico City reporter Luis Guillermo Hernandez in the Mexicoleaks introductory video. Are things really all that bad in a NAFTA ally country? If they are, then it is time for the U.S. Congress to chime in and take re-take control of foreign policy in the region, for starters. As far as Mexicoleaks, expand your mission and focus on troubles caused by your own government. Free markets are the solution, and what they entail to truly make them work, are not the problem.