After the Summit of the Americas, held a week ago in the United States, for Chile and the government it was an opportunity well seized. The performance of the president and the Foreign Ministry team was up to what the country needs, as highlighted by international media and analysts, and except for the gaffe with John Kerry, who in national social networks and some press was too relieved for what it really was, this tour can be considered successful.
It is not about being complacent, it is what could be seen from the outside and also from the inside, since as Fundación Multitudes we were part of this international meeting, since we participated in the Citizen Forum of the Americas, which is the instance created in the 2017 precisely to guarantee the participation of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the Summits of the Americas.
However, once again, the presence of CSOs was not part of the agenda of the leaders and the highest diplomatic representatives, including ours, which shows the little importance that still persists in governments in general. when speaking to the organized community. It does not mean that there are no spaces for development in each country, and in Chile we have multiple examples of this, but the Summit continues to have a monopoly on economic or, lately, environmental matters, without considering civil society.
Is this lament of any use? At this point for nothing, but we must not stop raising it. Hence these lines that do not intend to change Chile’s foreign policy -it would be too pretentious to aspire to it-, but to deliver, once again, a warning signal regarding issues that should be of interest in La Moneda and in each house government of the continent.
The agenda of this Citizen Forum of the Americas focused on topics such as “Advancing democratic accountability”; “Democratic Institutionality and Advance of Authoritarianism in the Region”; and “Corruption and governance”, to mention the most relevant. That is to say, how from civil society we become active counterparts to question our authorities, but above all we are counterweights against the hegemony that is exercised in some spaces of political power. A State that is indifferent to corruption, to the lack of transparency, to abuses, is a State that does tremendous damage to its people and democracy.
For this reason, at the Citizen Forum of the Americas, we vigorously and consistently promote what is called Open Government, which is nothing more than the rendering of public accounts, not as a mere annual procedure that must be complied with by law, but as a constant exercise of transparency, probity and political responsibility towards citizens. A good administration is not content with sticking to what the norm says, but goes further and accounts to its citizens for its actions, its achievements and also failures.
From the United States, each of the members of the participating CSOs left with many tasks to contribute to the transparency agenda of our respective countries, but it was also an obligatory comment for many of us that our own authorities gave it little importance —except the host country, by the way— to this space for debate, exchange of experiences and common projects in Open Government.
We are not discouraged by this experience, but rather, on the contrary, it encourages us to continue fighting this fight daily, without giving up our efforts and desire to strengthen civil society. Because that’s how democracy is built.