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Attacking the messengers

Public institutions exist to strengthen democracy; losing sight of their purpose only damages Mexico's democratic consolidation
Federal Institute of Telecommunications - Photo: Camila Mata/EL UNIVERSAL
06/02/2018
08:43
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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Autonomous organizations in Mexico are institutions emerging from the complex dynamic of an authoritarian tradition as the means to aid in the transition towards democratic consolidation. Their role is to lay down the guidelines and counterweights in key issues of public life: transparency and accountability, electoral matters, human rights, economic policies, telecommunications, and others.

One of the main tasks of autonomous organizations is to offer certainty in the arbitration of legal disputes. Under no circumstance must they take arbitrary action as a tool to settle a dispute, as this would go against their very purpose.

Like EL UNIVERSAL publishes today, the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) – an autonomous organization – had the means to prevent the company Tecnoradio from participating in the bid for radio frequencies yet they failed to do so. Even more, in addition to allowing the participation of the company in this process, the Institute has called to testify those who broadcast the case through the media.

In this way, the IFT requested the statements of attorney Javier Tejado Dóndé, a collaborator of this news outlet, and of journalist Joaquín López-Dóriga. The lawsuit filed against Tecnoradio and its executive officers claims the company used counterfeited documents to attempt fraud, yet it is these people, not the alleged culprits, whom the Institute has summoned without them being part of the dispute.

A similar situation took place at the National Electoral Institute (INE) when journalists Denise Maerker and Ciro Gómez Leyva were summoned as involuntary parties to an advertisement of the aspiring candidate Ricardo Anaya, of the coalition For Mexico to the Front, in his personal dispute against EL UNIVERSAL.

In both situations, autonomous organizations have lost sight that it those who break the law whom should be subjected to legal proceedings, not those who do their duty in informing the general public of matters of public interest. The incompetence shown is not logical, unless both, the IFT and the INE, are seeking to have third parties assume their responsibilities, parties who in no way are part of the disputes to be settled.

Public institutions exist mainly to strengthen and serve democracy. Attempts by autonomous organizations to silence news outlets and their professionals is an act which damages democracy in itself. This simply ought not to happen given Mexico's current context, in such a complicated year as this one.

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