Maintaining & Empowering Independent Agencies in Mexico
By Daniel Alvarez, MBA
As Mexico continues its democratic journey, the role of independent agencies, also known as autonomous constitutional bodies, cannot be overstated.
These agencies have played a vital role in safeguarding the rule of law, promoting transparency and accountability, and upholding the rights of the Mexican population. However, recent attempts by President Lopez Obrador to dismantle or weaken these agencies in the name of “cost-cutting measures” are deeply concerning and pose a threat to democracy in Mexico.
Independent agencies in Mexico, such as the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Data Protection (INAI), the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), the Federal Antitrust Commission (COFECE), and of course, the Central Bank (BANXICO), have been instrumental in advancing the interests of the Mexican people.
These agencies have carried out investigations, enforced regulations, and provided critical checks and balances on government actions. They have served as crucial mechanisms for ensuring transparency, accountability, and the protection of citizens' rights.
However, President Lopez Obrador's deliberate rejection of a cumulative 43,000 requests for information and his intent to dismantle INAI are deeply troubling. These actions are a direct contradiction to his electoral campaign promises of transparency in his administration. Instead of upholding transparency and accountability, President Lopez Obrador's efforts to weaken or eliminate independent agencies are undermining democratic principles and eroding the progress made in Mexico's democratic transition.
The claims of high costs made by the President are short-sighted and fail to consider the long-term benefits that independent agencies bring to Mexican society. These agencies are essential in holding government officials and institutions accountable, investigating corruption, protecting human rights, and promoting fair competition in the market. Disabling or dismantling them would create a dangerous power imbalance, leaving the government unchecked and opening the door to totalitarianism, reminiscent of the PRI-era.
Furthermore, the impact of weakening independent agencies goes beyond monetary costs.
These agencies are crucial for the functioning of a healthy democracy. They provide an avenue for citizens to seek redress and hold their government accountable, promote transparency and integrity, and ensure that the rights and interests of all citizens are protected, especially those of marginalized or vulnerable populations.
Disappearing independent agencies in Mexico would be equivalent to dissolving the Federal Reserve (FED) or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States. It is unfathomable and would have severe repercussions for democracy and the rule of law. The checks and balances provided by independent agencies are crucial for maintaining the separation of powers and preventing abuse of power by the government.
Instead of weakening or dismantling independent agencies, Mexico should focus on enhancing their capacity, ensuring their independence, and empowering them to carry out their mandates effectively. This includes providing them with adequate resources, support, and autonomy from political interference. It also involves fostering a culture of respect for the rule of law and democratic principles, where independent agencies are seen as allies in the pursuit of transparency, accountability, and the protection of citizens' rights.
The case for maintaining and empowering independent agencies in Mexico is evident. These agencies have yielded positive results for the Mexican population, contrary to the beliefs of Lopez Obrador. The President’s rejection of requests for information and his intent to dismantle INAI are direct contradictions to his campaign promises and are detrimental to democracy in Mexico.
As citizens, we must remain vigilant in protecting the independence and integrity of these agencies, and advocate for their continued existence and empowerment. The stakes are high, and the future of democracy in Mexico depends on it.
Daniel Alvarez, currently a part-time professor and consultant, holds four degrees from higher education institutions and has had the distinguished honor to work as a Diplomat representing both Mexico in the United States as well as the United States in Mexico, Canada, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador.
He can be reached by email at: email@example.com
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