The New York Times does a useful back-story on the furor over Wal-Mart's allegedly corrupt practices in Mexico:
A baroque bureaucracy, something economists have long warned slows the potential for growth here, and low pay for public servants leads to peso-greased shortcuts for the simplest transactions.
The bigger the project, experts say, the more palms that are likely to spread open.
“Although you may have all your permits, they say you have to contribute something,” said Salvador Contreras, a contractor on an office building going up on a major boulevard. “If you do it the normal way or without paying, it can take double the normal time to do anything.”
As deep as the bribery, as well as the resulting frustration, is the acceptance. So the report in The New York Times over the weekend that Wal-Mart de México had paid bribes to speed up the expansion of its empire here and then sought to cover up the payments came as no surprise. What raised eyebrows were the amounts involved — more than $24 million — and that the surreptitious behavior, which Mexicans are confronted with on a much smaller scale in their everyday lives, was so publicly revealed.
“They learned all the bad tricks here,” Carlos Salas, a food stand vendor who himself admits to paying off municipal inspectors, said of the executives of Wal-Mart.
It's a great First World luxury to wonder why corruption flourishes in other countries. Corruption is the normal human way of doing things. It is official integrity that is the unusual thing calling for explanation—not only to understand it, but to protect it.