Mexican Civil Society
December 19, 2018
Despite the occasional setback or spark of progress, civic space in Mexico has remained mostly stable since the country elected its first opposition president in 2000. While Mexico’s laws theoretically protect its citizens’ rights, their faulty implementation has failed to yield results at best and has increased the vulnerability of human rights defenders at worst. Some laws have imposed significant administrative restrictions in the form of complex reporting requirements, which can be a burden for civil society organizations (CSOs), especially for smaller grassroots human rights organizations. Controversial laws that restrict civic space, coupled with the country’s high levels of corruption, astronomical impunity rate, and lack of transparency, have caused many citizens to lose faith in the government’s ability and willingness to protect and fight for rights. Newly-elected President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (“AMLO”) seems to have a genuine interest in human rights, which is promising for the future of civic space in Mexico. However, the fact that he has already softened some of his policy stances on these topics, paired with the government’s history of involvement in human rights violations, should prompt caution. This report provides examples of how Mexican civil society has taken action to advocate for and protect themselves, through mechanisms such as community police and broad coalitions.
Linnea Sandin is the program manager and research associate for the CSIS Americas Program. Sarah Baumunk is a research associate and program coordinator for the CSIS Americas Program.This report was made possible by the generous support of the Oak Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.