Using a time of change to press for change in Mexico


Consuelo Castro and Cemefi


Consuelo Castro

A change of government in Mexico has provided the opportunity for the country’s civil society organizations to press for their greater involvement in the shaping of public affairs. This was the stimulus for a group of organizations to convene the First Citizens’ Summit to Build a Just and Peaceful Mexico, in May this year.

The event, whose aim was to agree a common agenda, was held on 21 and 22 May in Mexico City. More than 300 organizations from different subsectors and all across the country agreed seven significant strategic areas needing attention:

  • The strengthening of civil society organizations
  • Political reform and citizen participation
  • Transparency, accountability, access to information and the media
  • Inclusion and social cohesion
  • Quality education
  • Sustainable economic development and employment
  • Citizen security and human rights

Key issues for strengthening civil society organizations were identified by participants as tax incentives for giving; public policies that enhance CSOs’ sustainability; mechanisms that allow individual citizens and organizations to actively participate in the design, implementation and evaluation of public policies; and access to public funding

Candidates from the respective political parties came to the Summit to listen to the insights from civil society. Each of them agreed not only to respond to the topics advanced by the participants, but also to involve the political parties when the new legislative session begins.

Following the elections, and in the early days of newly elected President, Enrique Pena Nieto, his party, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI or Institutional Revolutionary Party), also held a meeting with representatives of the Summit. Pena Nieto followed through with his earlier commitment at the Summit by appointing liaisons to the taskforce groups to work on each of the above mentioned issues. In addition, representatives of the Summit’s groups have continued to advance their views by following up with each of the political parties and their representatives in Congress.

The Summit has proved to be a positive step forward in creating a collective voice to express the needs and demands of Mexican society. It is only one step, however. If that collective voice is ever to be heard, we all need to continue to support this effort.

Consuelo Castro is Legal Director, Cemefi.

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Tagged in: Civil society Latin America Mexico

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