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January - February 2019

Citizen Experiences and Challenges in Bringing Transparency and Accountability to Local Governments in Southern Mexico

Despite Mexico’s constitutional provisions for transparency, accountability, and citizen oversight of government practice, in Guerrero—a southern state of Mexico which has historically fluctuated between periods of peace and violence—the entrenched elite continues to dominate. Citizen action for accountability continues, in spite of persistent practices of bad governance that include indifference towards citizen proposals and the use of the “fear factor” as a means of social intimidation. Over the last 15 years, these experiences of persistent voluntarism and self-taught citizen literacy, have led to the emergence of a pathway for citizen intervention in public affairs. We can describe the steps of this approach to citizen involvement as follows: 1) Recognizing a problem and building empowerment to tackle it. 2) Exercising the right to know. 3) Monitoring and social oversight over public affairs. 4) Public policy advocacy. For more on how these citizen intervention processes can inform similar citizen-led processes elsewhere and inspire citizens to build sustainable initiatives that promote transparency and accountability in local governments, see the new ARC/Unicam-Sur Accountability Note by Carlos García Jiménez: Citizen Experiences and Challenges in Bringing Transparency and Accountability to Local Governments in Southern Mexico.

Experiencias y desafíos ciudadanos para instituir la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas en gobiernos locales del sur de México

A pesar de que el marco jurídico en México plantea que la transparencia, la rendición de cuentas y la contraloría ciudadana deben ser parte del ejercicio de gobierno, en Guerrero—entidad suriana con una historia de altibajos pacíficos y violentos—la oligarquía de hierro sigue siendo el factor dominante. No obstante, a contracorriente, grupos ciudadanos han venido empujando y posicionando, tanto en la sociedad como en los gobiernos locales, estos nuevos conceptos y prácticas de gobierno. A lo largo de 15 años, con perseverante voluntarismo y auto alfabetismo ciudadanos, han permitido sistematizar una ruta de intervención ciudadana en los asuntos públicos. Los componentes de esta ruta de intervención los expresamos de la siguiente manera: 1. Re-conocimiento y empoderamiento de un problema. 2. Ejercicio del derecho a saber. 3. Monitoreo y control social de lo público. 4. Incidencia en políticas públicas. Para aprender como las etapas de intervención ciudadana han permitido modestos resultados y la construcción de ciudadanía en un nivel básico en un contexto muy difícil, ver el nuevo Accountability Note de ARC/Unicam-Sur, escrito por Carlos García Jiménez: Experiencias y desafíos ciudadanos para instituir la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas en gobiernos locales del sur de México.


Coming Soon! Crowdsourcing Cases of Sandwich Strategy Reforms

The sandwich strategy describes an effort to make government more accountable to its citizens that involves collaboration between reformers within government and citizens working to change government from the outside. ARC is undertaking a comparative study of whether and how sandwich strategy initiatives drive pro-accountability institutional change in Nigeria and in the Global South more broadly. This project is led by Jonathan Fox and Rachel Robinson of American University in Washington, DC and funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. We seek to identify a substantial pool of potential cases (20-30) and will be circulating a call for cases via the ARC listserve and social media accounts soon. Once available, we will provide a link to a brief online survey form and look forward to your input. For more background on the sandwich strategy, see Social Accountability: What Does the Evidence Really Say?

Much More to Come in 2019

Thank you again for your interest in ARC and our platform for sharing the work of our collaborators around the world. We have a busy year ahead in 2019 with deepening partnerships, an exciting publications pipeline, and plans to attend several strategic convenings around the world. Please share with colleagues who may be interested to sign up for future monthly updates on publications and highlights of our partner organizations’ work for social change and greater accountability. You can also follow ARC on Twitter (@AcctResearchCtr) or
With Regards,
Jonathan Fox
Director, Accountability Research Center
Professor, American University School of International Service
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