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Annual Meeting of the Cemefi 2018

Civil Society, Actions that Transform

 

Before an audience that exceeded 900 people, including members of civil society organizations, public officials, academics, businessmen and the media, the Annual Meeting of Cemefi 2018 was held from November 12 to 14 in México City.

 

During the inauguration, Alfonso Romo Garza, who attended on behalf of the elected President of México, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, called on civil organizations to work together with the government, in an area of mutual respect and collaboration to build a better country. He added that the future federal administration will not seek to limit the work of the institutions.

 

In his speech, Jorge Familiar Haro, President of the Board of Directors of Cemefi, recalled the most significant actions that the association has undertaken during its 30 years of life; highlighting its participation in the group promoting the Federal Law of Promotion of the Activities of Civil Society Organizations, promulgated in 2004; and the work done with the tax authority, to achieve the modification of more than thirty fiscal provisions that have improved the regulation of non-profit institutions.

 

For his part, Manuel Arango Arias, founder of Cemefi and President of the Annual Meeting 2018, addressed a message to the audience in which he defended the autonomy of the philanthropic sector. "Citizen organizations should not be limited or penalized only by addressing issues that, although legal, are uncomfortable." It is time to forge an alliance between government, business and civil society, that commits the three sectors to observe and promote transparency, legality and justice. "This is the moment to unite, not divide."

 

During the second day of activities, Bernardo Toro Arango, of the Avina Foundation, gave a keynote address in which he stated that it will never be possible to have a strengthened civil society without investing in grassroots organizations devoted to community development.

 

He described, as a great challenge, the constructive dialogue between the government and the citizens, and invited to remember that one hundred years of democracy does not guarantee the future, so that an organized civil society must work constantly and permanently in the formation of citizenship and in the preservation of democratic values and mechanisms.

 

As part of the program, four plenary panels were held, entitled “Evolution of the Public Presence of Civil Society”, “Substantive Contributions of Civil Society to Public Life”, “Global Challenges of Civil Society” and “Main Challenges of Civil Society in México”, in which emerged relevant ideas about the work of this sector.

 

An organized civil society must be a counterweight to the government, which does not necessarily mean being opposition, but a counterbalance to the healthy balance that must exist in every democracy. The government continues to perceive civil society as an uncomfortable actor; partly because of the incomprehension of its composition, its diversity and aspirations. Given this scenario, the ideal is to continue looking for public-private partnerships that favor collaboration and become bridges for new initiatives.

 

In several countries of the world there is a crisis of political parties and multilateral organizations. Freedom of expression is being attacked in certain places, exacerbated nationalism creates polarization and does not contribute to the harmony of the world. To face this, it is necessary for civil society to analyze comprehensively and globally the conditions that generate those problems, because all countries are part of a system, of a global community. Therefore, civil society is the first social actor that has to demand from governments the fulfillment of the Agenda 20-30.

 

Civil society not only contributes to democracy, it is an essential component of it. It is the actor that promotes micro-reforms with the ambition to generate macro-effects; but it has to explore new paths in terms of financing schemes, care models, impact on public policies, etc.

 

Additionally, in a ceremony held during the Annual Meeting 2018, Cemefi delivered the Accreditation in Institutionality and Transparency to civil society organizations that have the optimum level of institutional professionalism. In 2018 there were 119 civil society organizations from 17 states of the Republic that received this distinction, with which there are currently 837 accredited organizations.

 

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