Legitimizing the Social Sector in Latin America

How can legitimizing the social sector in Mexico or any Latin American country increase civic participation and promote recognition of the social sector by the state?   Establishing a transparent process to identify legitimate social change organizations in Mexico and Latin America is the first step in unleashing the potential impact the social change sector can have in a much needed region of the world, Latin America.

I thought there was an established process available to register a NGO, but a quick search online provided me with this PDF , I was unable to find any other information on NGO registration in Mexico.

Repeatedly, Centro Ecologico Akumal has applied for NGO status and has been denied.  Apparently, according to Carlos, head of administration with Centro Ecologico Akumal, to receive official NGO status in Mexico, you must submit an application that is then used to determine NGO status.

Carlos, Head of Administration and Finance

However, the mechanism of evaluation is not transparent.  A single individual is able to receive status in what seems to be an arbitrary selection method.  Moreover, no justification is provided as to why the organization did not receive the NGO status.   “La corruption” is all that he could say to explain why they did not get their NGO status.  I thought to myself…

  • How can a social change organization operate in a climate that does not even recognize their existence?
  • Further, although an international NGO may have better hopes of establishing  recognition with the state because of international pressures, how does a local community based organization received this status, which is the most important and sustainable mechanism for the social change sector?
  • If the local sector is at the mercy of the national political system, how then can the international social change sector help validate the identity of a local social change organization?

Latin America is well known for corrupt governments, and Mexico is no exception, particularly under the administration of Felipe Calderon.  In fact, many UN members have dedicated their careers to battling corruption, seeing it as it as an impediment to development.    Corruption prevents fairness and equity of services and opportunity among citizens.  One of several interesting conversations I had with the finance administrator at Centro Ecologico Akumal was regarding the difficulty a social change organization faces in Mexico to register their organization with the government of Mexico.

Mexico, like many is a country where social services are badly needed.  Yet the social sector lacks political support and unfortunately 44% of the population lives and poverty and of that 20% in extreme poverty. Entire populations are not receiving social services due to government corruption. There is money to fight a war against drugs, but not one to reduce poverty.  Unfortunately, this is all too common and not unique to Mexico.  How then can the international community play a role in legitimizing the social change sector in a country that does not have the political support to do so?

This entry was posted in Tanilee Eichelberger (Yucatán, Mexico) and tagged , , , , , on by .

About Tanilee Eichelberger

Tanilee specializes in creating project budgets, auditable tracking systems, grant fund accounting, and project management. She brings eight years of accounting and business experience to her work. A UCLA graduate with distinct honors, she is currently Finance Grant Manager at TechSoup Global. Concurrently, she is attending the Monterey Institute of International Studies to complete a Masters of Public Administration in International Management. Her concentration is in Human Rights Advocacy in Latin America and the Caribbean for vulnerable communities including women, children and Afro-latinos. She is the recipient of numerous scholarships including the Emma B Keller Fine Arts Scholarship, and a fully funded scholarship recipient to attend the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a school of MiddleBury. Tanilee is fluent in Spanish and English and looks forward to learning Brazilian Portuguese. In her spare time, she enjoys performing samba in the San Francisco Bay Area with her samba group "Amor Do Samba", and designing and creating samba costumes for her shows.

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