The bus stops at 10 city landmarks while a recording plays, detailing how public money has been allegedly misspent and siphoned off at these places – the government palace, state congress and other public buildings.
This is the “Corruptour”, set up by the Mexican anti-graft organisation Via Ciudadana in one of Latin America’s most affluent cities to expose the abuse of power and misuse of public funds that is rife in Mexico and goes largely unpunished.
The group hopes the tour will mobilize Mexicans to hold elected to account and take action against graft.
“The bus tour aims to fight indifference and wake people up and show them… with clear examples the impact corruption has,” Miguel Trevino, a Via Ciudadana leader and Corruptour organizer, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone from Monterrey.
“When you ask people what their top concerns are, they’ll answer violence, unemployment and the state of the economy, instead of corruption. But we believe corruption is a national problem, the root cause of our problems and one that is linked to violence.”
The free one-hour-long tour, which kicked off just weeks ago, is already a sellout, attracting mostly Mexicans living in and around Monterrey, as well as tourists and local media from across the country, he said.
The tour stops at rows of box-like miniscule homes built for poor families without proper urban planning and services, which have since been abandoned.
It also swings by the infamous Casino Royale, where 52 people died in a 2011 arson attack that police blamed on drug traffickers.
Trevino described the casino as a “monument to corruption”, where people died because exit doors were not working. He called the subsequent investigation flawed.
VOTES TO CLEAN UP
Mexico ranks 106 out of 177 countries in Transparency International’s 2013 index based on perceived levels of public corruption, with number one being the least corrupt.
Since taking power in 2012, Mexico’s President Pena Nieto has sent a raft of legislation to combat graft to Congress, including a bill that would create an authority to investigate political corruption.
Via Ciudadana backs constitutional reforms that would allow independent candidates to run for office as a way to clean up traditional politics.
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Ahead of midterm elections in 2015 – when Mexico is due to vote in its lower house, nine state governors and hundreds of local mayors – the group also hopes to spur voter disenchantment with dishonest politicians.
During the Corruptour, dirty local politicians are named and shamed, cited by their full names.
“The punishment a citizen can give them in political terms is not to vote for them again,” Trevino said.