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México: Senate Appoints the Seven Commissioners to the New IFAI

IFAI

Headquarters of the Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection (IFAI). Photo from the author, J. Tadeo's blog.

On April 30, 2014, the Senate of the Mexican United States proposed the seven memebers who will make up the new agency that guarantees the fundamental right of access to information, as part of the reform of the constitutional text [es] in terms of transparency.

In due course, organizations like Fundar and Article 19 [es] have expressed their concern because the reform implies that the resolutions by the guarantor body may be fought by the government, which is disadvantageous for citizens seeking access to public information.

This is how te website Con los ojos abiertos [es] announced the nominations:

El Senado de la República aprobó el pasado 30 de abril el nombramiento de Francisco Javier Acuña Llamas, Areli Cano Guadiana, Oscar Guerra Ford, María Patricia Kurczyn Villalobos, Ximena Puente de la Mora, Joel Salas Juárez y Eugenio Rosendoevgueni Monterrey Chepov como comisionados del órgano garante del acceso a la información a nivel federal.

El dictamen presentado por las Comisiones Unidas de Anticorrupción y Participación Ciudadana, de Reglamentos y Prácticas Parlamentarias, y de Estudios Legislativos, fue aprobado el voto de 110 senadores como parte de los trabajos del último día del periodo ordinario, y a menos que sean objetados por el Presidente de la República, formarán parte del pleno del llamado #NuevoIFAI.

Last April 30, the Senate approved the appointment of Francisco Javier Acuña Llamas, Areli Guadiana Cano, Oscar Guerra Ford, Mary Patricia Villalobos Kurczyn, Ximena Mora Btridge, Joel Eugenio Salas Juarez and Monterrey Rosendoevgueni Chepov as commissioners of the guarantor body for access to information at the federal level.

The report, produced by the Joint Committee on Corruption and Citizen Participation, Parliamentary Regulations and Practices, and Legislative Studies, was approved on a vote of 110 senators as part of the work on the last day of the regular session. Unless they are challenged by the President of the Republic, they will be part of the full new IFAI.

In the meantime, México Infórmate and Colectivo por la Transparencia expressed regret [es] that among the names, none are of any person who is currently part of the Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection (IFAI):

Es lamentable que el Senado haya desaprovechado la oportunidad de incluir a una persona del IFAI, que garantice la visión institucional y la continuidad del trabajo que ha llevado a cabo dicho instituto en los últimos años y la inclusión de una persona del movimiento de la sociedad civil organizada que ha impulsado y defendido la transparencia y el acceso a la información durante más de una década.

It is unfortunate that the Senate has missed an opportunity to include someone from the IFAI, ensuring the institutional vision and continuity of the work carried out by the institute in recent years, and the inclusion of someone from the organized civil society movement that has promoted and championed transparency and access to information for over a decade.

In their joint statement [es] they alluded to the names of the people excluded from the final list by the politicians:

Es una lástima que Cecilia Azuara y Rosa María Bárcenas, personas con amplia experiencia en la materia, que conocen el funcionamiento interno del Instituto y que no cuentan con ligas partidistas, hayan sido excluidas por los partidos políticos en la recta final de las negociaciones.

It is a shame that Cecilia Azuara and Rosa Maria Cecilia Barcenas, both with extensive experience in the field, who know the inner workings of the Institute and who have no partisan ties, have been excluded by the political parties in the final stages of negotiations.

Claudio Cirio [es] of the Red por la Rendición de Cuentas [Network for Accountability] referred to the appointment and the supposed gender equality that this entails:

El primero se refiere a que la equidad de género en realidad no es tan equitativa. Y no me refiero al hecho de que sean tres mujeres (una de ellas excelente decisión según mi gusto, Areli Cano Guadiana) frente a cuatro hombres (uno de ellos prácticamente injustificable su nombramiento, Eugenio Monterrey). Me refiero a que, a aquellas se les eligió para los periodos más cortos, dos para que estén en funciones hasta 2018 y una hasta 2020, mientras uno de ellos estará hasta 2023, dos hasta 2022 (y precisamente uno es Monterrey, ¿Lo estarán perfilando para un eventual relevo en su momento en la presidencia?) y el cuarto hasta 2020 (marzo 31 todos de cada año respectivo).

Quizá puede pensarse muy rigorista mi apreciación pero parte de una definición amplia del propio término de equidad, no sólo en el número sino en el trato en las designaciones. O cómo entendemos esa “Disposición del ánimo que mueve a dar a cada uno lo que merece” que según la Real Academia de la Lengua Española significa tal término. La pregunta incómoda es ¿Por qué ellos más tiempo que ellas?

The first relates to gender equality that actually is not that equitable. And I’m not referring to the fact that there are three women (one, an excellent decision in my opinion, Areli Cano Guadiana) to four men (one of them an almost unjustifiable appointment, Eugenio Monterrey). What I’m referring to is those chosen for shorter periods, two to be in office until 2018 and 2020, while one of them will be there until 2023, two to 2022 (and indeed one is Monterrey—are they getting him ready for an eventual disclosure of his time for the presidency? ) and the fourth to 2020 (al of them March 31 of each respective year).

One might think my assessment is very severe, but part of a broad definition of the term equality itself is not only in numbers but in the treatment of appointments. Or how should we understand the “state that means giving each one what they deserve”, which is the meaning of the word according to the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language. The nagging question is: Why the males have longer terms than the females?

On Twitter, Senator Arely Gómez shared the following image with respect to the nomination of the seven commissioners:

The choice of candidates for the IFAI has been approved by a majority. It will go to the plenary for discussion and vote.

About the fact that the appointment was made ​​within the framework of “party quotas” that are customary in the Mexican political system, Alejandro Núñez T. said:

Quotas and the crony system prevails.

The appointments made on the basis of party quotas (distribution of appointments among the main political parties) was also mentioned by the expert on the subject and IFAI ex-commissioner, Juan Pablo Guerrero:

With suitable profiles, together with QUOTAS. Rare mix, but there is quality. Civil society [movement] is absent, x play fair

About this, Guerrero clarified:

Result for the new IFAI: A guarantor body re-partitioned (3 PRI + 2 PRN + 2 PAN). [translator’s note: PRI: Institutional Revolutionary Party; PRN: National Revolutionary Party; PAN: National Action Party] Challenge for commissioners: demonstrate autonomy

The National Center for Social Communication [CENCOS in Spanish] shared the following chart with comments on the appointments:

These are the 4 [male] commissioners and 3 [female] commissioners who will make up the new IFAI

Some users like Khemvirg Puente congratulated the people nominated by the Senate:

Congratulations to the members of the new AFAI. Now, they have to monitor their performance.

As mandated by the sixth article of the Constitution of the United States of Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto has ten working days to object to the appointments by the Senate. If there is no objection, the seven mentioned members will become the guarantor body commissioners for the right of access to information in the country, pending the appointment of the members of the Consultative Council (ten directors) of the organism in question.

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