Wal-Mart and the Mexican Pyramids: Bribery Run Amok!!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times has a front-page, investigative report on Wal-Mart’s push to build a store in the shadow of one of Mexico’s most treasured cultural landmarks, the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacán.  This story is a follow-up to another investigative report that was published earlier this year.

The essence of the issue was that Wal-Mart wanted to build a major store that was on the main road leading to Teotihuacán.  However, local zoning restrictions were being established that would not have allowed commercial development so close to the pyramids in order to preserve their historical significance and cultural ambience.  However, 30 miles away in Mexico City, at the headquarters of Wal-Mart de Mexico, executives were not about to be thwarted by an unfavorable zoning decision. Instead, records and interviews show, they decided to undo the damage with one well-placed $52,000 bribe.  The plan was simple. The zoning map would not become law until it was published in a government newspaper. So Wal-Mart de Mexico arranged to bribe an official to change the map before it was sent to the newspaper, records and interviews show. Sure enough, when the map was published, the zoning was redrawn to allow Wal-Mart’s store.   Problem solved.

The article mentions similar cases in other parts of Mexico involving hundreds of thousands of dollars.  As a result, there have been a number of protests in Mexico against Wal-Mart’s stores.   It is no wonder that American enterprise is so distrusted in many parts of the world.



  1. Seriously… do we really need Wal Mart to keep growing throughout the world? I thought it was only a problem in North America. Seems like a new store shows up in a small town every other month. I swear it’s like a cancer. I think this is especially sad, though, because at least in America we have honest (mostly) officials who wouldn’t take a bribe like that. But in Mexico, lots of stuff like that can fly under the radar (like we saw in this post). Thanks for writing about this, it’s definitely something more people should be made aware of.