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This year marks the 10th anniversary of the year in which Mexico enacted its Access to Public Information Law, which represented one of the most significant accomplishments of Mexico’s democracy as it gave Mexican citizens the right to demand the government’s accountability with regard to public affairs. For the first time in Mexican history, our nation’s rulers would be subject to the scrutiny of society and would be bound to answer their requests for information in a timely and accurate manner. The federal law’s enactment involved the creation of an institutional framework to guarantee its application by the citizenry, and compliance of the regulated entities. The Federal Institute for Access to Public Information was created under this mandate, as a decentralized organization with its own operations, budget and decision-making autonomy. Furthermore, all Federal Public Administration agencies created specialized liaison units to respond to requests for information submitted by the citizenship. The policy and institutional changes that occurred at the federal level were replicated in the states and in the Federal District at their own pace and over the course of time.

​In 2007, the struggles experienced after nearly three decades seeking for the right to access information culminated with the addition of a second part to Constitutional Article 6, which establishes that access to information is a fundamental right of all Mexicans. The addition of this fundamental right signified the beginning of a new chapter in our nation’s institutional development, and the instatement of a new government and citizenship culture. The right of access to information followed its essential expansionary and logical path based on the terms set forth in the 2007 reform. The enactment of the Federal Law on the Protection of Personal Data held by Private Parties in 2010 was, perhaps, the biggest challenge the Federal Institute of Access to Public Information and Data Protection (IFAI) has faced since its foundation. The guarantee of this right meant that the Institute would regulate two different universes — the public and private worlds that would call for substantial institutional adjustments.

The IFAI is now facing new challenges, ten years later. The prospect of a reform opens the door to new opportunities that will serve to strengthen the right of access to information and protection of personal data. This third issue of “Privacy and Transparency” relates this fact.

There is a global consensus on the huge costs of corruption in society. In financial terms, corruption generates direct social costs, wastes public resources and discourages investment. In terms of governance and democracy, corruption undermines the rule of law and violates the trust of citizens in government institutions. Latin America, in particular, is one of the regions of the world where the cost of corruption is more evident, and where the most vulnerable sectors of society have been largely punished with its vices. World Bank specialists on anti-corruption and governance policy, Lisa Bhansali and Paulina Soto, prove this in their article entitled “Strengthening Country Systems for Greater Transparency: Lessons and Progress in Latin America”, where they reflect on the long path Latin American democracies have followed in order to combat the culture of secrecy and corruption in government structures. The authors speak of the efforts made with respect to normative terms and the institutional strengthening achieved by countries in the region over the last 20 years, as well as the role played by multilateral agencies like the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in promoting best practices on democratic governance.

One of the groups expressing its strongest opposition to moving forward on transparency and access to information in Latin America is the region’s political parties. This opacity in management has generated a process of decomposition among large segments of the political class and discredited them before the electorate. Luis Carlos Ugalde, a former President of the Federal Electoral Institute in Mexico, wrote the article “Transparency of Political Parties, an Item Pending in Mexican Democracy” in which he offers an analysis of the system currently used to control Mexico’s political parties and explains how its imperfections breed corruption. Ugalde highlights the importance of the Reform to the Federal Law of Transparency that was approved this year, establishing that political parties as subject to such reform.

The war against corruption must begin not only within government institutions, but include efforts made by civil society, as well. Regardless of the progress made in terms of institutional consolidation, the problem will persist if society believes that corruption is an adequate mechanism for interaction. In an interesting article entitled “Understanding Corruption Practices and Contexts: the Legitimacy of the Legal Framework” Manuel Alejandro Guerrero, professor at the Universidad Iberoamericana, shows that the public’s belief regarding the ineffectiveness of government institutions, combined with the belief that the law is flexible, creates the perfect setting for corruption to prevail. Guerrero uses this notion to conclude that public policy to fight corruption should include promotion of law as one of its main components, since institutional efforts to eradicate corruption will be futile as long as the public continues to believe it is acceptable.
The interview section in this issue features an interesting conversation with Pedro Salazar Ugarte, an expert in constitutional guarantees and access to public information. Salazar explores some of the challenges the IFAI will face next year once the new reform goes into effect. He reflects on key issues and notes that the new federal law on transparency will be only succeed if accompanied by a solid secondary legislation. Furthermore, this issue’s regular sections include specialized literature reviews, and information on relevant dissertations and related websites.

Beyond voting, citizenship is built by participating in public affairs daily while a powerful tool for citizen participation is the practice of our right to information. This third issue of “Privacy and Transparency” outlines the agenda on transparency, access to government information and data protection in a framework of institutional renewal and reform, where perhaps the most important challenge is to make the citizenship assume its right to information and become the primary tool of interaction with its government.

Eduardo Guerrero Gutiérrezrtp_presentacion_en.aspx