National Geographic : 1996 Aug
MEXICO CITY Pushingthe Limits Shadows lengthened across the park, and as Noemi's family left, everyone held hands to keep the swirling crowds from breaking the Mufioz family apart. woman said. One is about Raul Salinas de Gortari, the former president's brother. He's accused of, among other things, buying animal feed to resell to poor people for them to eat. When Salinas dies and reaches the pearly gates, St. Peter asks his qualifications. "I stole 500 million pesos from the poor of Mexico," he says. "You think that'll get you into heaven?" St. Peter says. "Sure," Salinas says. "You'll get your cut." There's a flash of lightning, and Salinas finds himself in a shack in Mexico City. "Buenos dias," Satan says. "Have a tortilla." Corruption in Mexico City-and all over the country-is legendary. It hits people at all levels, from the grand larceny of politicians to the cop who settles the ticket in the street. "I get a visit at least once a week," a bar owner said. "I have to pay, because there's always something wrong. I have to feed them for free. They come, drink Grand Marnier, and then tell me I should turn off the ceiling fans to save money. The moment I see those guys with their smiles and the Mexican flags in their lapels, I say, 'Jesus, I'm doomed.' " "Corruption is to Mexico what repression was to Chile and Argentina," said Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, a congressman who recently served on a com mission on corruption. We were in a small office in an alley between rich and poor sections of the city. In the street below, people bartered for T-shirts and mangoes at a mercado, and kids played games in a video parlor. Aguilar, a slender man with abundant salt-and-pepper hair, was thoughtfully wary. On the table in front of him was a stack of reports that described millions of dol lars of government malfeasance. Dr. Francisco Colin Navarro. "On the worst days it's full, and we still have chil dren waiting in the emergency room." In burgeoning Naucalpan a fetid stream washes trash against a grate at a dam built to control floods. New neighbor hoods have leveled trees that once soaked up the rains.