El Chapo and 'mordidas'

Down in Mexico, they call bribes "mordidas."  It literally means "bites," like mosquito or dog bites.

It's part of the daily conversation.  I can remember many times hearing a Mexican friend boast – and I mean proudly boast – about "la mordida" that he had just paid at a federal agency or to the policeman over a traffic violation.

As I remember, he felt that he was helping the poorly paid policeman with a bribe.  I remember another one telling me it was a matter of duty paying off a bureaucrat.  He said he paid off the "expletive deleted" government official.

It was funny, but not really funny!

We just learned (thanks to our friend Monica Showalter) that El Chapo allegedly had some business dealings with then-mayor of Mexico City Andrés López-Obrador.

I just called a Mexican friend in Mexico City, and he said something like the PG version of "no kidding."

According to NBC, the story may be a problem for "Santo LO," or the man who has presented himself as the Mexican version of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

This is the story:

A government witness at the trial of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera testified Tuesday that he paid a multi-million dollar bribe to a former underling of Mexico's president-elect.

On his third day on the witness stand in the sensational trial in federal court in Brooklyn, Jesus Zambada described giving payoffs to two officials in the Mexican government in the mid-2000s.

El Chapo paid a multi-million dollar bribe to LO's underling?

I believe it, even if Sr. López-Obrador never heard about the bribe.

It is common in Mexico to pay off the big boss's team in order to push something through the bureaucracy.  Sometimes, it is the only way to get anything out of an agency, such as PEMEX, the oil monopoly.

In fact, I recall having lunch with a retired Mexico businessman years ago. I naively asked about mordidas and how they corrupt everything.  He looked at me and said, "Yes, but how do you think a former presidente created Acapulco?  Aren't we better off with that resort and the millions of tourists spending their dollars?"

What political impact could this have on president-elect López-Obrador, who takes office in a few days?

My guess is not much so far.  The information is still vague.

However, El Chapo is not going to spend the rest of life in jail, and away from that trophy wife, without making life difficult for a few famous names in Mexico.

As they say, stay tuned, because this story could become "muy interesante" as they say in Spanish.

PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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