LAS 381 • MEXICAN POLIT SYS IN TRANSITION
2:00 PM-5:00 PM
Mexico's political system during the last decade is experiencing a dramatic transition from the hegemonic PRI-dominated structure of 70 years, to that of a plural and consolidating democracy. Since 1997, and especially since the PAN's historic victory in 2000, the Mexican political system has struggled to recast and strengthen its political institutions: across the three branches (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary); in the day-to-day practices of governance and public administration; in modernization of technology and information processing; in criminal justice system; in press and media freedom, and investigative reporting. Within each of these arenas a key construct is the opportunity for respect of human rights, and for public access and freedom of information. This course will examine the changing nature of access to information, and transparency, and the opportunities for public scrutiny of government in Mexico since 2000. The goal is to evaluate the nature and speed of Mexico's democratic transition/consolidation process both in comparative and theoretical perspective, and to arrive at an assessment of what further changes are necessary through and beyond the next Presidential elections in summer 2006, if Mexico is to move from the institutional gridlock that it now finds itself.. Specifically, the course will examine the changes and implications of public scrutiny in all the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judiciary) at both the national and sub-national scales. In addition we will focus upon the relative openness of information and procedures within the political parties and with the criminal justice system and the courts; and will evaluate the emerging role of the Fourth Estate (the Press) in fast-forwarding freedom of information legislation in Mexico. A reading knowledge of Spanish is desirable, but not required for this course. Classes will comprise primarily seminar presentations and discussions led by graduate students, built around course readings and classnotes circulated on Blackboard. In addition, several supplementary speakers have agreed to visit campus during the semester including Dra. Maria Marvan, the President of the Federal Institute for (Public) Access to Information; Dr Carlos Ugalde current Chair of the IFE; Dr Jaqueline Peschard (for IFE Minister); and Dr Alejandro Gertz Manero, former Sec of Public Security. Student assessment will be based upon two term papers, and participation in class discussions.