Published on
Common Dreams

In Wal-Mart's Mexico: There's a Bribe for That

NYT: "The Bribery Aisle: How Wal-Mart Used Payoffs to Get Its Way in Mexico"

Jon Queally, staff writer

A protest against a planned Wal-Mart is seen Teotihuacan, Mexico State, in October, 2004. (AFP/Getty Images)

The global retail giant Wal-Mart ran neither a casual nor introverted bribery scheme when it came to getting what it wanted in Mexico.

As a new exposé by The New York Times reveals, efforts by Wal-mart to get what they wanted, regardless of local concerns and opposition, were extremely effective and "Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited."

Building near sacred lands? There's was a bribe for that. Want a store in an overpopulated neighborhood? No problem. A zoning restriction hiccup or building without an environmental impact plan? Wal-mart had a answer for it all: a little money in the right hand. Or hands.

According to the Times, Wal-mart offered

bribes to subvert democratic governance — public votes, open debates, transparent procedures. It used bribes to circumvent regulatory safeguards that protect Mexican citizens from unsafe construction. It used bribes to outflank rivals.


If you think a better world is possible, support our people-powered media model today

The corporate media puts the interests of the 1% ahead of all of us. That's wrong. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

If you believe the survival of independent media is vital to a healthy democracy, please step forward with a donation to nonprofit Common Dreams today:

And, according to the reporting--which started where official internal investigations about corruption in Mexico ended in 2006--the bribery was systemic, pervasive, and deeply embedded in the culture of the company.

From the report:

Through confidential Wal-Mart documents, The Times identified 19 store sites across Mexico that were the target of Wal-Mart de Mexico’s bribes. The Times then matched information about specific bribes against permit records for each site. Clear patterns emerged. Over and over, for example, the dates of bribe payments coincided with dates when critical permits were issued. Again and again, the strictly forbidden became miraculously attainable.

Thanks to eight bribe payments totaling $341,000, for example, Wal-Mart built a Sam’s Club in one of Mexico City’s most densely populated neighborhoods, near the Basílica de Guadalupe, without a construction license, or an environmental permit, or an urban impact assessment, or even a traffic permit. Thanks to nine bribe payments totaling $765,000, Wal-Mart built a vast refrigerated distribution center in an environmentally fragile flood basin north of Mexico City, in an area where electricity was so scarce that many smaller developers were turned away.

See the full story and a related video at the New York Times here.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news outlet. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Won't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Share This Article

More in: