World

Bribes Cost Mexico $2.75 Billion in 2010, Says Report

JUAREZ, MEXICO - MARCH 22: Police stand guard with students in front of a medical school which received a bomb threat on March 22, 2010 in Juarez, Mexico. The border city of Juarez, Mexico has been racked by violent drug related crime recently and has quickly become one of the most dangerous cities in the world to live. As drug cartels have been fighting over ever lucrative drug corridors along the United States border, the murder rate in Juarez has risen to 173 slayings for every 100,000 residents. President Felipe Calderon?s strategy of sending 7000 troops to Juarez has not mitigated the situation. With a population of 1.3 million, 2,600 people died in drug-related violence last year and 500 so far this year, including two Americans recently who worked for the U.S. Consulate and were killed as they returned from a children?s party.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

JUAREZ, MEXICO - MARCH 22: Police stand guard with students in front of a medical school which received a bomb threat on March 22, 2010 in Juarez, Mexico. The border city of Juarez, Mexico has been racked by violent drug related crime recently and has quickly become one of the most dangerous cities in the world to live. As drug cartels have been fighting over ever lucrative drug corridors along the United States border, the murder rate in Juarez has risen to 173 slayings for every 100,000 residents. President Felipe Calderon?s strategy of sending 7000 troops to Juarez has not mitigated the situation. With a population of 1.3 million, 2,600 people died in drug-related violence last year and 500 so far this year, including two Americans recently who worked for the U.S. Consulate and were killed as they returned from a children?s party. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)  (2010 Getty Images)

Bribes, or “mordidads” – literally, bites – as they are called in Mexico, are part of daily life: A way to get out of a traffic ticket, or even a way to be treated more quickly at a hospital.

But each little bite adds up, especially when it comes to negotiating government services and bureaucracy.

According to a recently released study by the Mexican chapter of Transparency International, Mexicans spent $2.75 billion in bribes last year. That represents an 18 percent jump from 2009.

For the study, released Tuesday under the title “National Index of Corruption and Good Government 2010,” Transparency International interviewed more than 15 thousand households. It also analyzed the costs of 35 different governmental services – ranging from the process of applying for, and obtaining, a government job, to resolving a traffic ticket.

The study estimates that the price of an average bribe in Mexico rose to $14 (165 pesos) from an average of $11.80 (138 pesos) in 2009.

At these prices, Mexican households with an average income budgeted 14 percent of their income to “mordidas.” For households earning the minimum wage, nearly 33 percent were lost to bribes.

The Mexican government, under Felipe Calderón, has greatly increased the prosecution of corruption in the state sector. Nearly 1,800 criminal charges for corruption were prosecuted last year. 

In prior years, the average was 30.

Still, the Transparency International study lays out a daunting challenge ahead. Its authors calculate that 200 million “acts of corruption” took place in Mexico last year.

For the average Mexican wage earner, this represents death by 200 million bites.

Contact Angela M. Santos at angela.santos@foxnewslatino.com or on Twitter@angelamsantos

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