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Chaos and Corruption

Mexico's Fight for Government Transparency

Mexico’s traditional culture of government secrecy is being challenged by citizens’ watchdog organizations that are gradually becoming more powerful.

In 2002 Mexico enacted a comprehensive Freedom of Information Act. At the time, it was one of the strongest such laws in the world and provided for a powerful oversight institute (IFAI) that would have binding decision power in cases of disputes between officials and citizens.

Activists have used IFAI procedures to transform the law from a paper tiger into an effective instrument to investigate and expose corruption. Punishing corrupt officials however has remained a frustrating endeavor, and over the years politicians of all stripes have tried to weaken the IFAI’s role. Yet, in a major victory for activists in February 2014, the government enacted transparency reform that strengthens the IFAI and holds more organizations accountable to the law.

In late 2014 the national uproar over the massacre of 43 student protesters led the Peña Nieto government to commit to a broad plan to stamp out corruption and enforce the rule of law. Although many doubt the sincerity of the President’s intentions, Mexicans are desperate for change.

Jarman had the opportunity to document the efforts of several leading transparency advocacy groups in Mexico such as IMCO, Fundar and Sonora Ciudadana. Her resulting photos and videos explore public health spending, farm subsidies, and the federal budget process. 

videos


Credits

Janet Jarman Videography, Photography, and Interviews / Filip Lein and Janet Jarman Editors / C.R. Hibbs and IMCO Executive Producers


Resources

Instituto Federal de Acceso a la Información y Protección de Datos

La Lucha por La Transparencia en México es exhibida en un cortometraje CNN México

Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad A.C.

Fundar Centro de Análisis e Investigación A.C.

Sonora Ciudadana A.C.

Hospital Governance in Latin America World Bank Four Nation Survey

Transparency in Mexico The Guardian

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