Embattled Mexican Supreme Court Justice Yasmín Esquivel. Photo: Google


It seems like a large number of Mexico’s political leaders are currently being questioned as to their educational credentials and overall credibility.

And Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is undoubtedly leading the pack in the chicanery department.

Depending on which source you choose to consider — WRadio, Expansión, Reforma or La Crónica — during the first four years of his six-year term, some 86,000, 61,000, 94,000, 67,000 statements, respectively, could not be fact-checked and verified (and a large portion of those statements were proven to be outright false).

It is likely not news that politicians are not always honest.

Proportionately, AMLO may not be lying any more than most other politicians since he tends to make a lot of statements (some of which are no doubt true) during his daily three-hour babble fest, so, in his defense, the numbers might just be exponential due to his massive on-air time.

But what is becoming an interesting phenomena in Mexico is how certain politicians’ biographies are disappearing from their websites to be scrubbed of exaggerations and downright lies about their studies due to the current controversy surrounding Mexican Supreme Court Justice Yasmín Esquivel’s accusation of plagiarism on her undergraduate thesis, a requirement at most Mexican universities.

Elected officials in Mexico do not have education requirements the way civil servants do, but citizens do have a right to know their academic backgrounds.

On Mexico’s official site for senators and representatives, a common format is used for their bios that asks for the highest degree completed.

Countless Mexican political leaders list themselves as having completed certain levels of education when they actually dropped out of their respective schools, not actually graduating.

Others are honest, indicating that middle school is their highest level — about 10 actually — and others, over 30, admit that high school or technical school is the highest degree they obtained.

Mexican politicians now know that their biographies are actually being scrutinized.

Rather than saying they have a college degree, many are now listing, or shall we say “updating” their résumés, stating that they finished their studies without having completed their thesis, which is common in Mexico.

Mexico City’s Cuauhtémoc Mayor Sandra Cuevas was questioned recently about her academic career, and today her biography is offline.

Pulse News Mexico has previously covered the outdated practice of expecting undergraduate students to produce an original thesis.

The practice has lent itself for decades of some students paying ghost writers to do the work, as well as acts of plagiarism and other less-than-ethical practices.

What seems incredible is that most U.S. schools, for over 20 years, beginning with middle school students, have used an on-ine plagiarism detector called turnitin.com for all assignments, not just for major projects.

What makes this filter so powerful is its massive database of millions of student assignments on every topic.

The database contains elements of a quarter-century’s worth of homework assignments of the planet’s English speakers.

Both the teacher and student receive immediate feedback on any assignment submitted that has patterns of plagiarism, down to the level of each paragraph.

With Mexico’s current thesis scandals, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) recently announced that it would require the use of iThenticate, a plagiarism online filter, for all theses submitted. This platform is the Spanish version of turnitin.com.

I suppose that this is a step forward to assure that undergraduate theses are, in fact, original, but like many things in Mexico, what is visible is only a small tip of the iceberg.

Plagiarism in Mexico at lower levels is rampant.

Any middle school or high school teacher will tell you that a lot of students have “learned” that submitting an assignment means copying and pasting from the Internet, often with no footnoting to the original author. Original nonfiction writing is a lost art.

It must be a great challenge for today’s teachers in Mexico to find a response to their students’ quips that “but, teacher, what’s the big deal if our presidents and Supreme Court justices tell lies and have copied?”

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