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Faces of Open Government: Cynthia Dehesa

Rostros de Gobierno Abierto: Cynthia Dehesa

Cynthia Dehesa|

Meet Cynthia Dehesa, the Director of Citizens for Transparency, a civil society organization working to build a society with zero tolerance for corruption through open government and active citizenship in the State of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

As we commemorate International Anti-Corruption Day, Cynthia will help us better understand the importance and trajectory of their work in the pursuit of a fairer and more transparent society.

Why is it important to fight against corruption and how does it directly impact the well-being of the community at the local level?

Corruption disrupts social agreements on how we relate to each other and manage resources. When corruption occurs, one party breaks these agreements. Therefore, we combat corruption to prevent actors from undermining what should work for society as a whole.

Corruption directly affects the local level because it is where resources are most needed and visible. At the municipal level, the disappearance of resources has a direct impact on people’s quality of life. When resources vanish, they stop being invested in the things and services people need. In the case of Quintana Roo, where communities have central parks, the disappearance of resources transforms these spaces, intended for social interaction, connection with nature, and well-being, into unsafe areas.

Citizens for Transparency aims to build a society with zero tolerance for corruption. How are you achieving this?

The organization I lead seeks to build a society with zero tolerance for corruption through various initiatives. One of them is promoting corporate integrity, emphasizing the importance of legal regulations that hold foreign companies accountable for corruption even outside their territory.

We also focus on monitoring public resources, recognizing that this is where corruption is most pronounced. We implement anti-corruption municipal programs in various municipalities, acknowledging the need to address corruption at the local level. These programs are co-created with active participation from civil society and municipal public servants, enabling more effective and specific actions.

We delve into local planning to make the population understand how corruption directly impacts their lives. We work to shift the perception of corruption from something distant and abstract to involving the community in identifying and solving local problems.

These actions materialize in concrete programs, such as municipal anti-corruption programs, integrated into government development plans, ensuring their follow-up and accountability. In Benito Juarez, for example, we implemented an anti-corruption municipal plan as part of the Municipal Development Plan, obliging authorities to publicly report progress and achievements. These initiatives aim not only to combat corruption at the local level but also to build a society where tolerance for corruption is minimal, thanks to the active and conscious participation of citizens.

How have open government and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) helped you fight corruption?

When we started with open government, I had no expectations. I thought achieving real change and genuine government willingness was almost impossible. Now, we have not only implemented our formal open government exercise but also extended transparency to other processes, such as open parliament and the creation of municipal plans. Open government provides a space to reconnect the government with civil society, facilitating dialogue between public servants and citizens, reducing the distrust accumulated over years of corruption.

This educational space has also revealed the complexities of the political system and the lack of well-structured educational processes. Often incomprehensible laws contribute to the lack of understanding of the legal system. In the open government field, efforts are made to simplify messages, citizenize processes, and improve understanding of the system, generating more interest and commitment from civil society.

A notable example is the Budget Transparency Platform, which has evolved from an inaccessible PDF to a platform designed in citizen language. The user experience has improved, committing to solving problems identified in the budget through commitments signed under open government. This exercise demonstrates how transparency and citizen participation directly impact government improvement and the fight against corruption.

Having the international support of OGP is essential for those of us working at the local level. It offers three key benefits:

  • Provides protection and security by showing that we are not alone; there is an international audience watching our actions.
  • Facilitates the exchange of knowledge and experiences, allowing the adoption of best practices and learning from others.
  • The Partnership validates our knowledge in front of local authorities, providing backing that strengthens our political position when presenting results internationally.

In February 2023, Citizens for Transparency set up an anti-corruption and environmental co-creation roundtable. Why is it important to fight corruption in environmental matters?

Because the environment is being destroyed, and countries are not achieving their goals due to corruption and a lack of commitment to climate targets.

In this environmental forum, we have succeeded in making environmental impact statements and logs that had not been made public for several years transparent. Despite initial resistance, our organization has woven relationships that allowed us to disclose the information. We work to make all environmental impact statements virtual, focusing on publishing not only the list but all relevant information.

Additionally, we plan to implement citizen consultations to address issues identified in negatively impactful statements. Sensitizing the private sector is crucial, especially in unbridled construction that affects the environment. We address three fronts: anti-corruption, corporate integrity, and responsible planning to invest effectively and reduce corruption opportunities. Society demands tangible results, creating an environment less prone to malfeasance.


Comments (1)

Maiki Reply

Tras la implementación de un gobierno abierto,surge esta plataforma de Transparencia y apertura con el pueblo

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