Mexican NGOs to keep working on the development of civil society

Despite being hindered by economic hurdles, a deeply ingrained culture of indifference, red tape, and government hostility
Mexican NGOs to keep working on the development of civil society
Community dinning room in Apango, Guerrero - Photo: Anwar Delgado/EL UNIVERSAL
02/03/2018
11:53
Gabriel Moyssen
Mexico City
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Far from being tainted by the current international scandals, Mexican Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) keep working to strengthen the development of civil society and its active participation in the decision-making process, a task which has always been difficult, challenging, and even dangerous in the last years.

Experts acknowledge that the expansion of humanitarian, environmental, consumer, gender equality, and political groups in the country, for instance, has been slow and hindered by economic hurdles, a deeply ingrained culture of indifference, red tape, and government hostility.

In any case, the origins of modern NGOs or civil society organizations can be traced back to the post-revolutionary period with the founding of the National Catholic Labor Confederation and the Mexican Catholic Action.

However, it was not until the democratization process, after the Tlatelolco massacre (1968), the devaluation of the Mexican peso (1976), and the Mexico City earthquake (1985) that local organisations such as Civic Alliance and the Mexican Environmental Movement (MEM) along with affiliates of international NGOs, such as Greenpeace, found room to grow and become the “public conscience” of the increasingly sophisticated urban classes.

The law governing NGOs has its basis in Article 9 of Mexico’s Constitution which sets out the right of association, thus leading to a wide and complex regulatory framework, including the Federal Civil Code and its equivalent state-level laws.

In that context, it should be noted the relevant role of the Federal Law for the Promotion of Civil Society Organizations in Mexico in project financing, as well as in fiscal and budgetary policies.

Specific proposals

In recent years, civil society has been making specific proposals in Congress towards the harmonization of the Federal Law to ensure public financing and the right to bring into legal action challenging the constitutionality of any rule or measure.

According to the Senate, Mexico is behind several Latin American countries as there is merely one organization for every 3,000 people, while in Chile the average is at least one for every 157 people and in Argentina one for every 344 people.

Mexican NGOs have also criticised lawmakers, arguing that civil organizations are only consulted when Congress is facing issues of national relevance. “We often feel used,” said one of its representatives.

Edited by Sofía Danis
More by Gabriel Moyssen