By KELIN DILLON
Despite Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his so-called Fourth Transformation’s quest to clean up Mexico’s crooked customs sector, three years of AMLO’s administration has seemingly done little to fix the country’s widespread corruption in the area.
In the first six months of 2021, the Tax Administration Service (SAT), which currently runs customs but is soon to be replaced by the military and a newly created agency at López Obrador’s behest, reported 33 employees to the Public Ministry (MP), with 21 of those coming from the General Administration of Customs (AGA), and a further 335 employees internally to the Internal Control Body (OIC).
In comparison, former President Enrique Peña Nieto ended his six-year term with a total of 75 complaints to the MP, with 25 of them against AGA employees, while there were 637 internal complaints — numbers which AMLO’s administration is on track to reach in 2021.
Now, the AGA is set to become the National Customs Agency of Mexico (ANAM) within the next 180 days and be run by the country’s Armed Forces, though experts have been skeptical about it helping the situation, especially since the military’s upped responsibility in the sector earlier this year was marred by reports of corruption.
“The military’s involvement gives a point of legal certainty, but I do not think customs will be fully operated by military personnel because they should only be in charge of security in the legal transit of goods and people,” said President of the Foreign Trade Commission at the College of Public Accountants Magdalena Macías.
Macías likewise pointed out there could be several road bumps during the transition between the agencies, as the SAT was previously able to seamlessly handle the financial and tax aspects of the customs process.