"Problems are not solved in the absence of strong institutions"
"Trying to prevent someone from accomplishing something is not the way to take"
Héctor Fix Fierro is a Mexican jurist and the principal of the Juridical Research Institute, Mexico National Autonomous University, lately on visit in Caracas. Recently appointed Honorary Professor by the Metropolitan University, during his talk with El Universal, he made comparisons and differences between the political processes in Mexico and Venezuela and stressed the significance of strong institutions.
What is your impression of the political process in Venezuela?
It is seen in Mexico that Venezuela has gone in the opposite direction. We, in Mexico, come from a regime with a very strong presidential rule over virtually all the spheres of the political and social way of living. At some point, it stopped working. Some social groups would not fit into that system that gave Mexico stability and peace for a while. In the seventies a fight started to expand liberties, reduce the Presidency to a more institutional proportion. Finally, in 2000, the election held resulted in change of ruling parties. It has been slow. What we can see here (in Venezuela) has been business as usual in Latin America: there must be a leader to solve the country problems and there must be powers and authority to help the leader materialize such project.
Since the Latin American history is common, can one expect changes in Venezuela?
I think so, because we live in such a dynamic world that by no means a control can linger long; in other time, ruling over a territory and taking hold of institutions was easier.
What can the Mexican experience give Venezuela on the issue of institutions?
The key problem in Mexico is the institutions. I think that for quite a while we were under the illusion that we had a strong State. As a matter of fact, we had a strong presidential rule and all other institutions were feeble. When the presidential rule stopped being what it used to be, we realized that institutions are poor. And also strengthening them is a must, because in the absence of sound and effective institutions, problems cannot be solved. Neither poverty nor public insecurity can be overcome.
What do strong institutions entail?
A strong institution basically entails autonomy. A politicized institution lacking a certain degree of autonomy is unable to yield the expected results.
Nevertheless, feeble institutions are perfect for someone who purports to rule in an authoritarian manner.
Yes, and they tend to follow political criteria that many a time are against the needs of the social ambit.
What is pivotal for a quintessence judiciary?
Transparency is very important now; this means institutions open up to society, so that society can see, watch and criticize their performance. In the interest of an institution, if it intends to create not only legitimacy but effectiveness, it should have transparency inwards and outwards.
Is judges' stability important?
Judges' stability is most important. All institutions where uncomfortable decisions should be made concerning other institutions should have stability; otherwise, the incentive would be making "convenient" decisions.
Which social assurances should a State give its citizens?
No matter ideologies, it is clear that the State should offset social inequity. Any modern State investing in society development should offset inequality and I think that it basically does so through education, health and social security. Furthermore, the State should ascertain some basic rules of justice and lawfulness in the way of developing the economic rule. However, should it not allow free enterprise, the energy goes another way. The problem in Mexico concerning the outflow of people and crime and informality is partly because social energy has not been channeled into the legal and formal sector of economy. We have many knots and obstacles. There are monopolies and oligopolies in those sectors and no way to come in. Such energies must go elsewhere... Why do so many people emigrate? Because they cannot find any room and seek opportunities elsewhere.
This is also part of the common history in Latin America.
I think so. We are an energetic continent with stamina. Blocked energy is like water; it needs to take another course. Trying to prevent someone from accomplishing something is not the way to take.
Translated by Conchita Delgado
While she was detained, she was kept blindfolded, she was doused with water and then electric shocks were applied to her arms, breasts and genitals. She was threatened and told that she would be killed and buried in pieces." Gloria Tobón's is one on the list of documented cases reported by Amnesty International in its briefing document to the United Nations Committee Against Torture.