A quick and easy and FREE and FAST and tiny way to vote for DEMOCRACY in MEXICO.
Isn’t the internet wonderful? And no, I don’t make a habit of this (never have done it before).
If you know me and trust me and just want to help sign my younger sister Kathleen’s petition to the Presidente Municipal (local head of government) in the suburb of Mexico City, Mexico, where she lives, and my parents live, to LISTEN to and CONSULT with the local citizenry (yes, she’s a Mexican citizen, and no, she does not hold dual citizenship) BEFORE they make decisions which affect them, then simply go to:
If you are not already a member of AVAAZ (likely you’re not), use the lower form (primera vez=first time), type in your name (Nombre), Email address, Select your country (ESTADOS UNIDOS) from the drop-down menu, type in your ZIP CODE (Código Postal), and click the big red FIRMAR button – and you’ve done as much as you possibly can – with no cost to yourself. And I thank you.
IF you get further emails from them (and you may – sorry!), simply type “UNSUBSCRIBE” into the Subject: line, and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can probably just Reply to the email THEY send YOU, edit the To: line (if it doesn’t say email@example.com), type in “UNSUBSCRIBE”, and send it on its merry way.
IF, instead, you’d like to know more about WHAT you’re adding your emailed signature to, bear with me a few more paragraphs.
First, who am I?
If you read my About page, you know I grew up in Mexico City. Our part of the great Butcher/Losoncy extended clan, in the form of my parents, Ernest and Pepita, moved us all down there (all at that time was me and one sister), in 1957 – and, except for me, never returned to the States except for family reunions and the occasional visit. All of them – including three more sisters born in Mexico, still live there.
Who is Kathy B., whose name is on the petition?
Kathleen Marie is one of my three younger sisters, and she is a Mexican citizen, and is delighting our family by being the one to care about the community she and my parents live in, enough to get herself elected as head of one of the local neighborhood associations – so she could organize the neighbors and revitalize HER association to do things such as petition the government of Atizapán so they would enforce their own ordinances and provide the services they kept insisting only they could provide – but didn’t.
Why an internet petition?
Because that’s NOT what you do in Mexico – but now you can.
What is she hoping to accomplish?
A working relationship where citizens are actually allowed to opine about such things as zoning changes and water rights – things we take for granted in the developed countries – to their local governments, and get listened to.
What am I hoping to accomplish?
To get her a bigger level of support – so that Lic. Pedro Rodríguez Villegas and other government officials realize that people – and not just local people – DO care, and are watching.
What does the petition SAY?
Translated by me (Kathy checked my Spanish): “We are asking the government of Atizapán de Zaragoza (a Mexican town/municipality), in the State of Mexico (next to Mexico City), presided over by Pedro Rodriguez Villegas (the honorific ‘Lic.’ (licenciado) means college graduate), to really include citizens when taking decisions that affect them under the rubric of Urban Development, which includes, inevitably, speaking of supervising new urban developments, commercial corridors, zoning changes, increases in population densities and in building heights, that is, anything that has to do with the growth of the municipality, so it will be sustainable and we have a FUTURE. We demand an analysis of water availability for those of us who already live here BEFORE allowing more growth, and a pause to unconstrained development until we have a SUSTAINABLE plan.”
[Original: “Solicitamos que el Gobierno de Atizapán de Zaragoza, en el Estado de México, presidido por el Lic. Pedro Rodríguez Villegas, incluya realmente a los ciudadanos en la toma de decisiones que les incumben en el tema de Desarrollo Urbano lo que incluye, inevitablemente, hablar de vigilar nuevos desarrollo urbanos, corredores comerciales, cambios de usos de suelo, aumentos de intensidades y alturas o sea todo lo que tenga que ver con el crecimiento del municipio para que sea sustentable y tengamos FUTURO. Exigimos un análisis de factibilidad de agua para los que ya vivimos aquí ANTES de crecer y una pausa al desarrollo desmedido, hasta que tengamos un plan SUSTENTABLE.”]
The explanation of WHY IT IS IMPORTANT [Por qué es importante]:
Translation: “Because now is the moment in which citizens should participate in important decisions about our town/municipality and government of our municipality, as the decisions that the government officials take unilaterally affect citizens, and only look to financial interests without seeing how they affect road building, quality of life, lack of services, water, access TO the municipality, construction sites, and security that the citizens suffer when they are not taken into account because the government believes it must take these decisions without consultation. The government alone does not have a complete understanding of what happens in the communities, nor lives with the consequences of decisions taken in offices, with no deep understanding that they will affect the lives of thousands of inhabitants of Atizapán. It is imperative to require the authorities to take the citizens into account and include them in decisions in the future. We citizens have the right to ask for this and implement this request, and it is the obligation of our government authorities to listen to our point of view, consider it, ponder it, and implement it when we have reason on our side. We want an Atizapán de Zaragoza with a future, sustainable, prosperous, and orderly.”
[Original: “Porque ya es momento de que los ciudadanos participemos de las decisiones importantes sobre nuestro municipio en el tema del Desarrollo Urbano y gobierno de nuestro municipio, pues las decisiones que toman los gobernantes de manera unilateral, afectan a la ciudadanía y sólo cuidan intereses monetarios sin ver las afectaciones a vialidades, calidad de vida, falta de servicios, agua, accesos, obras, y seguridad que sufren los ciudadanos cuando no se les toma en cuenta y se cree que el ayuntamiento debe hacerlo solo. El ayuntamiento solo no tiene la visión completa de lo que pasa en las comunidades ni vive la consecuencia de las decisiones tomadas sobre escritorios, sin conocimiento profundo que afectarán la vida de miles de atizapenses… es imperativo obligar a las autoridades a tomar en cuenta a los ciudadanos y a incluirlo en las decisiones a futuro. Los ciudadanos tenemos derecho de pedirlo e implementarlo y es obligación de nuestro gobierno aceptar nuestro punto de vista, considerarlo, ponderarlo e implementarlo cuando tengamos la razón de nuestro lado. Queremos un Atizapán de Zaragoza con futuro, sustentable, próspero y ordenado.”]
And a few phrases and terms and other bits:
road building: streets and roads already saturated with the present population get impassable when new construction is allowed WITHOUT adding any new roads
access into the municipality: Atizapan is reached from the city by a SINGLE bridge, which is already over its carrying capacity and is a huge bottleneck most hours of the day
police force: security is already a problem with an inadequate police force; adding more people and homes, commercial development and traffic, without increasing the size of the police department means that citizens have to do even more of their own policing (in Mexico this usually means hiring private firms at personal expense for communities within Atizapán)
Atizapán de Zaragoza is a town which has become a suburb of Mexico City in the Estado de México, a Mexican state next to the Federal District (DF), which is what most people think of as ‘Mexico City’ (as ‘Washington’ is analogous to ‘DC’ in the US))
Kathy is fighting, not for any specific changes (except, at this time, for the removal of a gasoline station built in a residential area without proper permits or zoning changes and partially on public land), but for the access of ordinary citizens to a voice in government.
We take this as a matter of course in the United States: each state/town/city in the US has a different mechanism for citizen participation, hearings where government officials seek and listen to input from their citizens. Mexico doesn’t have this, and if it is on the books, it is not implemented. The difference between Mexico’s lofty ideals (as expressed in their constitution and other local documents) and the actuality is enormous. Government officials in general do not take the citizenry into account when making decisions which affect their lives, and IN WHICH THE CITIZENS WOULD BE HAPPY TO GIVE THEIR OPINIONS. There is little accountability.
Grassroots – and local – efforts like this, done via internet, and with the whole world watching, are a way to remind the officials of who are their constituents. This is not something that has been done much yet, but those of us who have SOME version of the democratic process available to us (whether or not we currently choose to participate) can send a message – easily – and hope to improve those options for other countries.
I definitely think that a petition (she was looking for 100 signatures) with thousands of e-signatures, from all over the world, would make a big impact.
Thank you for your time. If you agree with our aims, please feel free to pass this information on to family, friends, and acquaintances you think might be like-minded, and who think that, whatever the government or the country, the right of the citizens to petition is a basic human right, and all citizens deserve accountability from those who govern them AND serve them.
Please send me further questions to abehrhardt [at] gmail [dot] com. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll get it from Kathy – and post it here.