The goal of the Latin American Citizenship Group is to create an open, public place for collective consideration of the main challenges and dilemmas for democracy in Latin America. Topics such as citizenship building and public-policy promotion are priority.

Thanks to this new work method, the Group hopes to contribute to two of the strategic aspects considered in the mission of the Tecnológico de Monterrey:

1.- The promotion of ethics, citizenship, and social commitment. It does so through thinking it fosters on topics such as leadership, citizen participation, quality of democracy, and more.

2.- Innovation and entrepreneurship. They are achieved through identifying, analyzing, and sharing successful public-policy and public-administration practices in Latin America.

1.- To support the sharing and building of innovative, sustainable solutions to the main challenges to democracy in Latin America, with the goal of improving their quality with an intersectorial approach and including scholars, the public sector, international actors, private businesses, and civil society.
2.- To boost the role of public policies and of local governments in the strengthening of democratic governability and citizenship building in the region.

3.- To identify good practices in the field of public policies focused on citizenship building and to take from them lessons for Latin America.


For the 2015–2016 academic period, the chosen topic is “Local Governments and Public Policies for Citizen Interaction in Latin America.”

The region is going through increased social conflict, which can be seen in the high rates of crime and violence over the last few decades. The United Nations considers the region the most unsafe in the world. Some data to support this idea are: Latin America holds almost 9% of the world’s population, and more than 30% of the world’s homicides are committed there. Seven of the 10 countries with the highest homicide rates are in the region (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2011).

This situation has affected mainly the local spheres of social interaction, including cities and states. Therefore, the main question for the Group’s activities in this period is: What strategies and solutions can be supported and strengthened so that local government can get the upper hand in rebuilding and innovating citizen interaction?



Local Government

From the beginning of the 1980s to the mid-2000s, Latin America went through a process of democratization. National government transferred competencies and functions to subnational government levels, in favor of decentralization, so the local government has become the main player in offering services and in interacting with other governments and with citizens. This transformation is known as the “Silent Revolution” (Campbell, 2005).



Public Policy

There are different efforts to attempt to conceptualize what a public policy is. Many of the definitions include aspects such as the purpose, the place, the types of public policy, the political intentions, the institutional design, the diversity of the actors, and the building process.

The Research Group uses the definition by Luis F. Aguilar Villanueva, which can be summarized as follows: “A (public) policy is a proactive, intentional, planned behavior, not simply a reactive, casual one […] In fact, a policy is a dual course of action: it is a deliberately designed course of action and an effectively followed course of action. Not only what the government says and wants to do. It is also what it really does and achieves, on its own or with other political and social actors, beyond its intentions” (Aguilar Villanueva, 1994, pp. 24–25).

Citizen Interaction

The Latin America and Caribbean region is going through increased social conflicts, which can be seen in the high rates of crime and violence. Other expressions of social conflict are organized crime and its links to drug trafficking, violent gangs of mostly young men from the region, and domestic violence against women and children.

There is a consensus in the international community that violence in Latin America and the Caribbean is the result of several factors, including the high level of income inequality, access to firearms, and gang violence (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2011). But other factors are alcohol use, the poor quality of public education, the poor performance of police institutions, and the inability of governments to respond to social demands (Soares & Naritomi, 2010). Therefore, neighborhood crime and violence in Latin America must be reduced, and local government, those closest to the citizens, plays an important role in achieving this goal.


  • Aguilar Villanueva, L. F. (1994). El estudio de las políticas públicas. Antologías de política pública 11. México: Miguel Angel Porrua.
  • Campbell, T. (2005). The quiet revolution. Decentralization and the rise of political participation in Latin America's cities. Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg Press.
  • Grindle, M. S. (2009). Going local. Decentralization, democratization and the promise of good governance. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Londoño, J. L., & Guerrero, R. (Agosto de 1999). Violencia en América Latina. Epidemología y costos. Documento de trabajo R-375. Washington D.C.: Banco Interamericano para el Desarrollo. Obtenido de
  • Soares, R., & Naritomi, J. (2010). Understanding high crime rates in Latin America. The role of social and policy factors . In R. Di Tella, S. Edwards, & E. Schargrodsky, The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America (págs. 19-55). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, U. (2011). Global study on homicides. Trends, context, data. Vienna: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.


Laura Chinchilla

Leader of the Latin America Research Group on Citizenship

Former President of Costa Rica, from 2010– (UNDP), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress. She was the undersecretary of Public Safety, and the president of the Joint Antidrug Intelligence Center and of the National Immigration Council, and was also a member of the National Drug and National Security councils and a professor at the National Police School.

Some of the activities that Laura Chinchilla will carry out are: 2014. She has a master in Political Science from Georgetown University. She has been a consultant with different international organizations, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Programme

1. Conversation periods with students and professors
2. Social Leadership and Citizenship Days
3. Motivational meetings with students from the Leaders of Tomorrow program
4. Seminar on Local Governments and Public Policies for Citizen Interaction in Latin America
5. Master Conferences
6. Anthology of the Research Group work
7. Notebooks from the Group


Laura Chinchilla



Sergio Fajardo

Visiting professor from the Latin American Citizenship Research Group

He is a Colombian politician and mathematician. He was the governor of Antioquia, with the Green Party, from 2012 to 2015. He was elected by popular vote to be the mayor of Medellín from 2004–2007, when he was awarded the Best Mayor in Colombia Award for 2004–2007, and the 2007 Latin American Personality of the Year by the Financial Times. He was a vice presidential candidate in the 2010 Colombian presidential elections, with Antanas Mockus. He calls himself a candidate with no political ideology, even though the media says he is in the center. As a journalist, he has focused on different national topics. He was the subdirector of El Colombiano, and a columnist at El Mundo, El Espectador, and the magazine Dinero; he also worked on the TV programs Operación Ciudad, at Telemedellín, and Zanahoria, at Teleantioquia, and was a member of the Viva FM team with Caracol Radio, where he spent the first part of 2008 as a member of the 6-a.m. Hoy por Hoy reporting team. He has participated in peace processes as a founding member of the Peace-Facilitating Commission of Antioquia, when Álvaro Uribe was president, and he has given lectures on the armed conflict in Colombia.

Some of the activities that Sergio Fajardo will carry out are:
1. Master Lectures
2. Conversations between students and professors
3. Seminar “How our society can transform: Lessons from Medellín and Antioquia”


Sergio Fajardo