The most vile family this side of the Borgias is completely and thoroughly evil at this point. Their greed has left them unable to conform their behavior to anything resembling morality.

Or legality, here or elsewhere. What they’ve done to American workers is certainly obscene, and what they’ve done to Chinese workers would have seen them in front of firing squads in the Mao era. So it is less than no surprise to see what kind of “capitalism” and “free enterprise” the Waltons have been engaging in down in Mexico.

This is why Plutocracy cannot be tolerated. Corporations cannot be allowed to act as a law unto themselves. Mao-Mart turns everything it touches into shit; communities are devastated, workers are enslaved, and Governments are so thoroughly corrupted that anarchy would be a welcome change. It is way past time for the hammer of law to be brought down on the Ar-Kapones.

 

The real scandal is that the Walmart Mexico corruption exposé does not come as a surprise. Constant controversy has marked Walmart’s rapid expansion in Mexico over the last 15 years.

One of every five Walmart stores is now south of the border, and the company reported total sales of US$29 billion in the country during 2011. Last year alone, it opened 365 new stores in Mexico.

But there are constant allegations that most profits are expatriated or hidden through sophisticated accounting schemes in order to avoid paying taxes to the Mexican government. This has been confirmed by studies conducted by both the Mexican Chamber of Deputies and the company’s own internal investigation. Walmart also pays miserable wages, employs an army of unpaid “baggers” at its checkout lines, and has been accused of widespread violation of labor laws.

The company establishes few backward linkages with Mexican manufacturers, since the vast majority of the products it sells originate in the United States. Its recent growth also puts at risk the Mexican tradition of street markets, which date back to the times of the Aztecs and Mayans. The company has even been accused of interfering with archeological sites, for instance in Teotihuacan in central Mexico.

The fact that Walmart has also paid more than $24 million in bribes to Mexican officials, according to The New York Times’s account, is therefore more of the same. Walmart has claimed that it is “deeply concerned” by the allegations and is “working aggressively to determine what happened.” But there is no reason to think that this is an isolated incident. Sunday’s exposé demonstrates that Walmart has not taken any measures to stop the wrongdoing and that, seven years later, absolutely no one has been punished for the criminal acts. The corruption was probably even more widespread than we know, and similar practices most likely continue today as Walmart still expands at a death-defying pace in Mexico.

Both the U.S. and Mexican governments should immediately initiate a full-scale and wide-ranging investigation of the practices and impact of Walmart in Mexico. In addition to strict enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and investigations by Mexican state and local comptroller and attorney general’s offices, both countries should also push to activate the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials, as watchdog groups have requested.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the scandal is that the illegal practices most likely would not have received the same treatment if committed on U.S. soil. “It’s a Mexican issue; it’s better to let it be a Mexican response,” said one of the informants, summarizing the thinking of Walmart executives. The implication is clear: there is no need to apply high standards of honesty and accountability when dealing with “backward” or “underdeveloped” nations. It is better to profit from lawlessness than to uphold the rule of law.

 

A Federal investigation has apparently begun into Mao-Mart’s practices, but we shouldn’t expect anything to come of it; Mao-Mart has been able to do basically as it pleased since at least the Clinton era. But something still needs to be done. The best hope is, perhaps, to try to get localities to turn the screws on Mao-Mart. State Attorneys General might be able to do what the Federal Government appears to be unable to do. Given the devastation that Mao-Mart has unleashed on communities across America, one might be able to sell the idea of bringing their criminal reign to an end to State officials.

To tolerate Mao-Mart’s business practices is not “rewarding the winner” of the “free market,” any more than ignoring the St. Valentine’s Day massacre would have been the right thing to do in Al Capone’s case. Someone, somewhere, has to send these criminals a message.

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