After discussing the recent move by the Mexican Congress to sign off on a statement urging the country's President not to sign ACTA, we asked Geraldine Juarez, who has been following the situation closely in Mexico, to weigh in with more details on what's happening there on this issue.
Last Tuesday, the Second Standing Commission of the Mexican Congress approved unanimously a resolution, promoted by Senator Francisco Castellon, to exhort the Executive to not sign ACTA
. The resolution was tabled and then voted on Wednesday by Congress (this voting included Congressmen and Senators). The text of the resolution
is explicit about this request:
ÚNICO.- La Comisión Permanente del H. Congreso de la Unión, exhorta respetuosamente al titular del Poder Ejecutivo Federal para que, en el marco de sus atribuciones, instruya a las Secretarías y Dependencias involucradas en las negociaciones del Acuerdo Comercial Anti Falsificación (ACTA), a no firmar dicho Acuerdo. Dado en el salón dos de comisiones del Senado de la República.
UNIQUE.- The Standing Committee of the H. Congress, respectfully urges the Federal Executive Power so that, within the framework of its powers, instruct the ministries and agencies involved in negotiating the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), not to sign the Treaty.
Importantly, the resolution is not binding
, which means that the Executive still can ignore the clear will of Congress and sign ACTA... but the Senate will still need to ratify it afterwards and this doesn't bode well for that process. However, we must remember that this resolution is the result of a process that started 6 months ago. To try to bring some accountability to the opaque process of ACTA, Senator Carlos Sotelo presented a resolution (punto de acuerdo) last October to halt negotiations until the ACTA Working Group was set up and finished. The effort there was in order to bring transparency to the negotiations and the Senate could make a decision based on the arguments for and against ACTA from civil society, academia, the private sector, NGOs and the government. This resolution was approved, but the negotiations weren't halted
. Negotiators met with the ACTA Working Group
shortly after the release of the November text of ACTA.
Since the discussion of ACTA emerged back in October 2009, the position against ACTA has been lead by Senator Castellon. Together with the public and many people speaking out against ACTA, little by little the Senate has reacted accordingly to the demand of society, resulting in an interesting coalition that now includes many of Mexico's top political parties, including the Presidential Party, PAN. This means that ACTA would need the vote of the PAN to be rejected. Thankfully, Senators Breatriz Zavala, Santiago Creel y Federico Döring from that party have been clear about their opposition to ACTA.
During six meetings with academia, citizens, lobbyists from both the telecom and entertainment industries and government officials, arguments both for and against ACTA were presented. (Full stenographic versions at the microsite for ACTA
on the Senate website). The last session was a "citizen reply" before the final meeting, where conclusions will be take. Unfortunately, it appears that this last session will not be public.
The same day that the Congress passed the resolution to officially telling the President to instruct ACTA negotiators not to sign, the last session of the ACTA Working Group was held. This session was specially important in understanding two key points:
Is Mexico out of ACTA. Yes. Forever? No.
- Rejection of ACTA is imminent during this administration that ends in middle 2012.
- ACTA could be signed by next administration.
Besides the solid arguments and evidence provided by the opposition to ACTA, it is important to bring attention to the participation of Senator Federico Döring last Wednesday: his intervention
starts at minute 17:00 in this video -- in Spanish, of course.
Important Excerpts from the video (rough translation):
I'm not here to evade a political cost. I will review 3 points:
Why we were against ACTA, why we are and will we remain against it?
Because ACTA is not well done. Let's look at it in pieces:
The previous director of IMPI (Mexican Institute of Industrial Property), Jorge Amigo, said to Senator Beatriz Zavala and me, in a meeting we had, that he had to make ACTA outside WTO (World Trade Organization) because, if not, it "wouldn't be made." He said it would make sense -- textual words -- only if China would get on board. We told him, well if they don't join and there is no arbitration panel, because it is at the margin of the WTO, what is it useful for? The silence was sepulchral.
Also noteworthy, is that one day after the ACTA Working Group met with the government officials involved in the negotiation, the lead negotiator of ACTA in Mexico and director of IMPI for 16 years, quit his public charge
. (pdf, in Spanish).
Federico Döring continued:
Second: It is unconstitutional. It is a slap in the face to the intelligence of any Senator of this or any other party, of this or any other topic, that a law or treaty says that it doesn't matter what's in the Constitution or Mexican laws but just what ACTA says. Just to begin with.
PAN Senators are convinced that ACTA is not viable, even supposing that it wasn't unconstitutional, even in the context that we could implement it internationally, even supposing that the Senate would back it. The senators of PAN don't believe that it could be implemented in the Mexican legal framework.
You (who are against ACTA) articulate more points than the State could. You offered a position, something that the government was incapable of doing. And by the government, I mean not only IMPI, but also IFAI (Federal Institute of Access to Information) which is against ACTA. CNDH (Human Rights National Commission) are also against it, and they are also part of the Mexican State. The center of the Mexican Republic couldn't reach a consensus on its own position.
Neither could industry reach a consensus with soceity.
The point I'm trying to make is about the risk.
Interests in favor of ACTA -- those whom promote it -- are not going to go away in the elections of 2012. There is an enormous risk of ACTA not being ratified because of the political calculations that with this administration and this legislature that these are not the political conditions needed to support ACTA.
This does not guarantee that the next President won't sign the treaty using the cover and shadow of those interests. And you don't have any guarantee -- while we don't have any political reform -- that you will have with the support of Congress.
Today you have the support of the Senators and Congressmen and the only way of doing something good, is not only to say no, but to make a piece of legislation that could permanently shutter the topic so we don't have the risk that the next administration changes this position.
In this legislature, from now until August 2012, ACTA can’t be passed via ratification or Constitutional reform without the vote of the PAN. We are the first political group with vote participation. This guarantees you have it on the table. What you haven’t stopped is that ACTA can be resurrected in the next legislature.
What goes first? First to go are public goods in terms of slimming down the gaps and inequalities. Socializing public goods, everything that had to do with culture, information and artistic expressions.
We are working in the PAN, with Senator Beatriz Zavala, on that.
I don’t want anyone to tell me that we didn't tell you ACTA won't go trough or that we didn't invite them to the table.
The idea of ACTA is shattered for the political life of this country, at least from now until August 2012.”
The day after the ACTA Working Group and the vote in Congress, the new director of the IMPI -- Rodrigo Roque Díaz -- declared to the newspaper, Reforma, that he didn't know the reason why
Senators would like to reject a treaty that would establish a new benchmark for the protection of intellectual property worldwide:
"Yo desconozco las razones por las cuales la Comisión Permanente (del Congreso) exhorta al Poder Ejecutivo a no firmar un acuerdo cuyo principio es generar las mejores prácticas en contra de las copias ilícitas de obras intelectuales artísticas o la violación a los derechos de propiedad intelectual,"
"The reasons why the Standing Comission (of Congress) orders the Executive power not to sign a treaty, the purpose of which is to generate the best practices against illicit copies of artistic intellectual works, and the violation to intellectual property rights, are unknown to me”
However, Roque Díaz was present
during the last public session of the ACTA Working Group on Wednesday, at which much of this was discussed.
Federico de la Garza, director de la Motion Picture Association (MPA), rechazó que este Punto de Acuerdo frene la firma del ACTA, ya que, comentó, es una recomendación, pero no una ley.
"No sentimos que se esté desvaneciendo el ACTA, porque México no va a hacer que un acuerdo de este calibre se desvanezca", declaró De la Garza.
Federico de la Garza, the director of the Motion Picture Association (MPA), rejects that this resolution halts the signing of ACTA, since, he said, it is a recommendation, but not a law.
“We don’t feel that ACTA is vanishing, because Mexico will not allow a treaty of this caliber to vanish”.
However, following those statements, Senators from other parties tweeted their support of the outright rejection of ACTA in Mexico, and we've seen a growing acceptance around the world of Mexico's resolution not to sign ACTA.
To summarize, ACTA is certainly being held back for now, and it appears that it would not get passed by today's Mexican Congress. There are still questions as to what will happen in the future, but there clearly is widespread support for Mexico to completely reject the agreement.