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In Latin America, citizen participation is strengthened

In Latin America, citizen participation is strengthened

By Juan Diego Restrepo E.

Citizen participation in Latin America has been strengthening in recent years from the impulse given by local and regional governments to proposals that seek to position alternative models of development that overcome the consequences of the neoliberal model, which deepen social exclusion and poverty. .

Citizen participation in Latin America has been strengthening in recent years from the impulse given by local and regional governments to proposals that seek to position alternative models of development that overcome the consequences of the neoliberal model, which deepen social exclusion and poverty. .


It has not been an easy process, nor has it been a finished process. Confronting the State and its responsibilities in social, political, cultural and economic matters with these alternative development models is a decision that implies the formation of a new type of citizenship that participates in the different instances of public management.

The debate on the characteristics of this political confrontation and the type of participatory citizen that has been consolidating in Latin America to achieve higher levels of incidence in the construction of public policies that favor the poorest communities, were part of the first day of the Itinerant International Seminar on Democratic Government Policies, convened and organized by the Council for Education and Local Power of the Council for Adult Education of Latin America (Ceaal) and the Popular Training Institute (IPC).

This academic event, which brings together specialists from Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Panama and Colombia in the city, tries to awaken discussion about issues such as development, democracy and citizen participation in the Latin American context and the changes that are required to achieve greater integration in the region.

Rafael Martins, representative of the Polis Institute, Brazil's center for social policy studies, highlights the greater participation of citizens in the decision-making processes of local governments, “but it is necessary to channel efforts to expand that participation in order to influence at the national level ”.

In Brazil, several participatory budget and urban planning programs stand out, particularly those in the cities of Porto Alegre and Belem de Para, which have been in operation for several years and, due to their achievements, have become models for the rest of Latin America.

Within the framework of citizen participation, according to Henriette Hurtado, from the Centro de Investigaciones Ciudad, Ecuador, it is necessary to look more at local governments, “from where new proposals for urban development, educational policies, health, infrastructure, are emerging, housing and education, according to the initiatives of the local leaders themselves ”.

Hurtado supports the effectiveness of local strengthening, decentralization and the application of citizen participation policies with the experience that has been carried out in the town of Cotacachi for nine years.

“There, a year ago, she was declared free of illiteracy, in a country where the level is 9%. It is the first leading population at the national level in this achievement, achieved thanks to international agreements with Cuban teachers who applied a specific methodology to achieve this objective ”.


On concrete achievements Clara Restrepo, Secretary of Social Development of Medellín, argues that this city, the second most important in Colombia, has been positioning itself in Latin America and the world for its innovations in transforming proposals for citizen participation.

“I believe that Medellín, with all that it has been doing in education; in construction of works with a social sense; in the creation of spaces for participation; and the development of entrepreneurship programs to generate income; it points to greater inclusion and poverty reduction ”, highlights Restrepo. However, it recognizes that "the city continues to have serious social problems and effects at the national level that influence so that these transformations that we seek do not occur at the speed we would like".

Lissy Canal from the Tarea Institute of Peru, which focused its work on education for development, does not hesitate to point out that citizen participation is a key component of governance, on which progress has been made in terms of regulations and mechanisms of incidence.

“But a culture of participation is lacking. Their role in the face of this process has not been installed in the conscience of the citizens. It is necessary to influence a more active participation system, where the population feels committed; It is necessary to make visible to the citizen that part of their rights is to be part of those participatory scenarios that the law grants them ”.

Canal warns that this lack of this culture is common to all Latin American countries, among other reasons because “education does not train us for that, but to acquire a set of knowledge. I believe that training is the key to participation. It has to do with education and with the way we subjects exercise ourselves as subjects of rights. Here there is a joint responsibility of society, the State, community movements and even political parties. It is a commitment of all ”.

This coming October 6, the Itinerant International Seminar on Democratic Government Policies, I met in the Restrepo Room of the Joaquín Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden, in Medellín, with a discussion agenda that focused on the topic Popular education and local development.

* Editor of the IPC Press Agency
Medellin Colombia
(57 4) 284 90 35
www.ipc.org.co


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