Mexico is a country in transition. Eight years since the landmark presidential election defeat of the once dominant Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI), Mexico has made great strides in terms of improving its provision of basic social services and has maintained consistent economic growth, but key challenges remain. Chief among these is the undue influence exerted by special interest groups within the political and economic arena. Efforts at democratizing government and liberalizing the Mexican economy, while bringing many benefits to the country, have succeeded neither in diluting the power of these entrenched forces nor in making Mexico’s markets more competitive.
Reformers both within the country and outside Mexico view these two issues as the cornerstone of Mexico’s path to sustained economic growth and development. In 2002, a domestic campaign succeeded in having a Freedom of Information Act passed by the Mexican Congress, as a first step in improving transparency and accountability in the country. Several years on, however, there is still resistance from within the government to the release of information, and implementation of the law remains incomplete. Legislative efforts are also underway to address Mexico’s poor record on competitiveness but face significant opposition from powerful interest groups who benefit from current monopolistic practices.
On June 3, the Transparency and Accountability Project convened two policy roundtables focused on ongoing efforts to improve competitiveness and facilitate access to information. The first roundtable, “Privatizing the Private Sector: Greater Competitiveness for Better Governance”, focused on the business environment in Mexico, while the second roundtable, “Freedom of Information: Necessary but Not Sufficient”, focused on access to information in Mexico. It was an opportunity for policymakers, researchers, and practitioners to discuss these issues and debate possible interventions that could be made at the domestic and international level to help catalyze these reforms.