There is an Absence of Rule of Law in Mexico

rebuilding-state-institutions-UDLAP
The book “Rebuilding State Institutions. Challenges for Democratic Rule of Law in Mexico,” co-edited by Dr. Juan Antonio Le Clercq Ortega, a professor at Universidad de las Américas Puebla, was presented to the public. This book describes how contemporary Mexico faces a complex crisis of violence and insecurity with high levels of impunity and the absence of an effective rule of law.

Several experts on the topic presented and commented this book. Starting the conversation, Dr. Sergio García Ramírez, from UNAM’s Institute of Legal Research, said that this is a book with an extensive and complete outlook of the rule of law and its implications in different areas. “Reading the book leaves one with the painful sensation that we are not doing well, that we are not heading in the right direction, and that problems abound in this area. The entire book looks to the future and its different outcomes; but if things continue as they are, according to this book, the future is complicated. The name of the book itself suggests that the rule of law has deteriorated and that we need to rebuild it,” he explained.

Dr. Luis Daniel Vázquez, from the Latin American Faculty of Social Science in Mexico, another presenter, said that “the text is divided in three parts, the first one explaining the concept of rule of law. The second part, Explaining the Fragility of the Mexican Rule of Law, is in effect a diagnosis, and it is what makes us lament that the diagnosis is not good: all measures indicate that Latin America is in last place regarding this and, while Mexico is not the last country, our country is at the bottom. The third section talks about structural reforms, the challenges of implementing them, and how we can manage to build a true rule of law.”

Even if the book has a very marked academic focus, it also includes the participation of NGOs that are linked to the processes of building evaluation mechanisms for specific interventions, explained Dr. Le Clercq. “We have a chapter in which World Justice Project participates, where they discuss their methodology to measure the rule of law. We also have a collaboration of México Evalúa,” said Dr. Le Clercq, before yielding the floor to María Novoa, one of the authors and an expert on how criminal systems function.

María Novoa explained that the book compiles a series of essays that seek to converge on three elements: “how we understand the rule of law, what specific problems we should address in that definition, and what could be done, socially and legally, to establish or re-establish a balance in the country. From the start we consider that there is an absence of state of law in Mexico. Specifically, in the case of Mexico, the rule of law is a dream,” she added.

During his intervention, Dr. José Pablo Abreu Sacramento thanked Springer and UDLAP, and specifically the students who helped in the translation and revision processes: “as students, I hope that they have learned from this process.” On the other hand, he explained that “what this book leaves for me is that we may have invested money in new institutions, wasting a lot of time and effort to approve reforms, but we forgot to strengthen another part of this game, which is society. Citizens report only 7% (of crimes) and if Mexicans are not participating in strengthening the rule of law, we cannot enjoy this right nor achieve a common good”.

Finally, once the guests’ participation finished, Dr. Juan Antonio Le Clercq Ortega explained that after two years of hard work and enormous challenges, he is very satisfied with this book, thanks to the quality of its collaborators. Published by Springer Editorial, this book is currently available online only, but in the following months it will be published in print.

UDLAP Student Participates in Marine Mammal World Congress in Barcelona, Spain

  • Daniela Ahuatzin presents her Honors Program thesis research on the sperm whale population in the Gulf of California.

Daniela Ahuatzin, a Licenciatura in Biology student at Universidad de las Américas Puebla, and Dr. Alejandro Arias del Razo, a faculty member of the Department of Chemical Biological Sciences also at UDLAP, participated in the Marine Mammal World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, to present the research work of her honors thesis.

“This is the world’s most important meeting on Marine Mammalogy – the study of marine mammals – that takes place every two years at different cities around the globe. This year it was in Barcelona, where works on this topic were presented before 3 thousand attendees,” declared in an interview Dr. Arias.  He added that the work done by Daniela contained data important enough to merit its presentation in this world-class event.

This work studies the population of sperm whales in the Gulf of California, a topic that draws the attention of the general public and of marine biology students.  “The research, based on my thesis project for the honors program at the university, followed the historical data and information available on the population of this species through several years.  It identified individuals of the species sighted in the region, estimating a population of about 320 whales.  However, beginning in 2015 we observed a drastic fall in the number of whales sighted, so we decided to study the reasons for this phenomenon, reviewing factors such as temperature and primary activity.  The results obtained through this investigation indicated, as one possible motive, the number of giant squids in the area, which has dropped as well, and which are the most important prey for the sperm whale,” explained Daniela Ahuatzin.

It is relevant to point out that, in order to participate in the World Congress of Marine Mammals, they had to go through several filters that finally allowed them to attend the congress as presenters. “A summary in English of the research work was submitted to the scientific committee to be evaluated and approved. It is worth noting that to be approved the quality of the research must be high, since the number of works submitted is quite big,” said Dr. Arias.

Finally, it is worth noting that the acceptance of UDLAP students to participate in world-class events demonstrates the quality of their research as well as the academic formation they receive.

UDLAP is the Second Most Productive e-government Research Institution in Latin America

  • A study published in the Government Information Quarterly also places UDLAP in its list of institutions with the most productive researchers.

According to an article published in the Government Information Quarterly, Universidad de las Américas Puebla is the second most productive institution conducting e-government research in Latin America. Likewise, the same publication notes that UDLAP’s researchers Sergio Picazo Vela, Luis Felipe Luna Reyes, Ramón Gil García, and Dolores Luna Reyes are in their list of most productive researchers.

“In July, 2019, the journal Government Information Quarterly, a renowned publication in government electronic research, published an article that analyzed 15 years of research in this medium in Latin America. An interesting result of this same article places professors of the UDLAP’s School of Business and Economics among the 20 most productive authors of digital government research in Latin America, and UDLAP as the second most productive institution in electronic government research,” informed during an interview Dr. Picazo, who also noted that the university is just nine articles short of those of the institution that placed first.

Dr. Sergio Picazo explained that to make this analysis, the Quarterly gathered information of all publications mentioning e-government in Scopus, a database of quality research journals that includes articles, book chapters, books, memoirs, and more. Scopus found many such publications, grouping them by institutions and researchers to count them and identify the most productive institutions and researchers. “It’s worth pointing that, by groups, UDLAP was also the most productive, with 59 documents and 752 quotations,” said Dean Picazo.

As for the research topics, the academic said they include citizens’ participation through digital media, government transparency, and government accountability, all of them well researched throughout Latin America in general and analyzed also by UDLAP’s group investigators.

Finally, Dr. Picazo said that the publication of this research by Government Information Quarterly “brings the university big benefits such as recognition of the work done by its faculty and the institution’s support for this type of work, resulting in a wider knowledge of the university and allowing international researchers to be aware of UDLAP’s quality investigations.

UDLAP Students Win the VW Challenge

Four Universidad de las Américas Puebla students won the VW Challenge, an innovation and imagination competition, where the participants have an opportunity to present their business ideas to Volkswagen executives on the future of mobility, purchasing experience, and other automobile-related aspects of what to expect in 2030.

Derived from their Information Technology in Business class – taught by Fernando Thompson de la Rosa, UDLAP’s IT Director – Laura Raquel Olvera, Elena Maria Horffmann, Alberto Mori, and Gauthier Olivier Romain Larenaudie, the former three Mexican students and the latter an exchange student, created wide-reaching projects to participate in the challenge convened by the German automotive company. “We had the opportunity for our students to work with Volkswagen developing a project to automate industrial innovation. Ours was the first university selected to participate in this Challenge,” shared Thompson de la Rosa.

The UDLAP students presented a project that describes how an automobile will be purchased in 2030 for big cities, how maintenance will be offered in Mexico, and how mobility will change here. “We developed a project on our idea of the future, starting from the trend we see for the next 10 years.  Our idea was to develop a leasing-membership program centered on personalization and complete coverage of millennials’ requirements, who will be the new VW customers,” explained Alberto Mori.

VW Challenge

Based on their project, the students continued to develop it at the VW Mexico headquarters throughout the semester, having the opportunity to work with the marketing and development team of the company, who added ideas to fine-tune their work; they also received feedback from executives, both at the final presentation as well as during their collaboration throughout the semester. “We are thrilled because we could express our ideas on what we see as the future of mobility in the next 30 years, we were listened to, and they were excited with the ideas we developed,” said Elena Maria Horffmann.

This way, UDLAP continues its effort to offer outreach activities for students in the business world, as well as giving them an opportunity to present projects that open working opportunities for them. It is important to mention that this course is part of the program of the Licenciatura in Business Administration of the School of Business and Economics at UDLAP. “This initiative provides an opening to create new projects, not only at VW, but with other companies.  It is an opportunity for students to become involved with the real world from the first semesters” commented Dr. Cecilia Trujillo Reyes, academic director of the Department of Business Administration at Universidad de las Américas Puebla.

 

 

UDLAP Faculty Member Is Named Editor of the Book Sustainable Building Materials

 

  • The book’s topic is eco-friendly materials for construction.

 Dr. Iván Oropeza Pérez, Research and Graduate Studies Coordinator in the Architecture Department at Universidad de la Américas Puebla, was named editor of the book Sustainable Building Materials by IntechOpen publishing company.

“I was invited directly by IntechOpen, the publisher, to edit the book whose main topic is sustainable materials for buildings. I accepted the invitation fully understanding the responsibility of editing a book,” stated the UDLAP professor.

He said that the editing responsibilities include activities such as establishing and developing a theme on which the book’s objectives will be focused, review proposals and detect their relevance for the topic, give a positive or negative verdict of the completed chapters, review the chapters and establish their order, write the introduction, edit it and review the scientific quality to make sure it meets the publishers’ standards, to finally be able to publish the book.

Regarding the importance of editing the book, Dr. Iván Oropeza said that it is due to the topic, since it is focused on building materials. “The chapters revolve around materials that are sustainable for building. Today, everybody is concerned with the environment, and we receive a lot of article proposals for new materials that use less energy in their manufacturing process, as well as in their use at a global level,” he said.

It is important to mention that the main objective of this book is to show the benefits of the use of construction materials in a sustainable context. The benefits could be environmental, economic or social and the building materials are evaluated with different tools and methods and are carried out in terms of design, structure, thermal comfort, life cycle, mitigation of greenhouse gases and social development, among many others that consider social, architectural, and engineering aspects.

Dr. Iván Oropeza has a distinguished professional career which has led him to different activities: he co-authored a book on the potential of natural ventilation in Mexico; he has presented papers at different national and international meetings; published different scientific, peer-reviewed research articles; reviewed articles related to passive air conditioning of buildings and its energy consumption. He is currently the president of the International Building Performance Simulation Association in Mexico (IBPSA-México), member of the National Association of Solar Energy (Asociación Nacional de Energía Solar – ANES), member of the Decent and Sustainable Housing Network (Red de Vivienda Digna y Sustentable CONACYT), and a member of the editorial committee of the American Journal of Energy Engineering.

UDLAP Faculty Member Named Distinguished Guest During the XXIX CONPEHT Meeting in the Dominican Republic

María del Carmen Morfin Herrera, academic director of the Tourism Department at Universidad de las Américas Puebla, and current President of the Pan-American Federation of Hotel, Gastronomy, and Tourism Schools attended the XXIX CONPEHT Meeting held in Dominican Republic, where she was also named distinguished guest by the government of Santo Domingo.

In the framework of the XXIX CONPEHT Meeting, the current president of the association had previously met with the honor council and the board of directors to discuss topics regarding the work she has been carrying out for a year. “We take advantage of the yearly assembly to meet three days before so the presidency may explain what has been done and under which regulations the activities have been carried out,” stated professor Morfin.

Regarding her experience leading CONPEHT, the UDLAP director of the Tourism Department said she felt happy with the work team because “they have adhered to this modification because the students and professors feel included; and now the main challenge next year will be to host the meeting.  I think this will be done very well, as I see that each of the activity leaders and coordinators are very committed, and I think we will leave a mark,” she stated.

“We started the collaborative work in April, when we provided the most adequate guidelines for our strategic framework, defining CONPEHT on its 30th anniversary, which is in 2020.  I am in charge of presenting the results of this work.  We are all very committed to the federation, and there have been changes to the calls, such as the integral gastronomy contest, student research, the food style contest, and the new guidelines for the Turpade magazine,” added professor Morfín.

On the other hand, she expressed her satisfaction with the organization and development of the 2019 meeting because, with the coordination of the Pan-American Federation of Hotel, Gastronomy and Tourism Schools and the hosts in the Dominican Republic, there were over 600 participants from 22 countries, in spite of unexpected events that were out of their control. Professor Morfín says that it was a success because the “CONPEHT community is always willing to participate with discipline, professionalism, and ethics to create a different path.”

“On the last day I was pleased with the recognition we received from the government, when they named me a distinguished guest of Santo Domingo. The tourism minister and the meeting organizer gave me this award, and I am very honored to have it,” stated professor Morfín. Finally, Universidad de las Américas Puebla will be one of the hosts of the yearly meeting in 2020 and the first meeting will be on campus. “UDLAP will celebrate its 80th anniversary and CONPEHT its 30th anniversary, and we’re going to celebrate jointly. It is very important for me to have them here,” concluded the CONPEHT President.

 

UDLAP Students are Awarded the Erasmus Scholarship

  • Luis Enrique Moreda Rovirosa and Samia Rojas went to Bergen University in Norway for an academic exchange.

Luis Enrique Moreda and Samia Rojas, students at Universidad de las Américas Puebla were awarded a scholarship for an academic stay at the University of Bergen in Norway by the Erasmus program (European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students).

“This scholarship is an opportunity for students that are not part of the European Union to participate in an academic exchange program. In our case we went last semester to the University of Bergen in Norway”, said Luis Enrique Moreda, a seventh-semester student of Architecture at UDLAP. Likewise, he said that to obtain the scholarship they had to meet certain requirements, which include having a GPA of at least 8.5, have a level 2 on the TOEFL, and have a high academic performance.

Finally, he explained that the scholarship included “a regular exchange for a semester at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Bergen. We also took advantage of our stay to carry out other activities, such as hiking, taking part in student groups and, in my case, I was able to work at an architecture firm where I could apply what I have learned at UDLAP,” stated Luis Enrique.

For her part, Samia Rojas, seventh-semester student of Design of Visual Information at UDLAP, commented that, “thanks to this scholarship I acquired new knowledge and experience. For example, joining a volunteer group and showing what I have learned at UDLAP, especially in photography, because I was able to work in the university newspaper taking photos.”

Finally, both students agreed in saying that earning the Erasmus scholarship afforded new knowledge and a wonderful experience for both because they experienced a cultural exchange of languages and traditions. “It also let us see the good of each country, what they have in common, and what you can improve and contribute,” stated Samia Rojas.

It is important to mention that the Erasmus program is an important and successful student initiative, promoted by European institutions for countries that are not part of the European Union, to benefit students from other countries. Its objective is to foster cooperation for student mobility between institutions so the educational and cultural relationship of both countries be strengthened.

UDLAP Faculty Member Discusses New Security Threats at an International Congress

Gerardo Rodríguez Sánchez Lara, faculty member at Universidad de las Américas Puebla, participated in the international colloquium “Good Government, Development, and Security 2019” in Lima Peru, where important personalities of strategic-thinking security and defense centers from Latin America and Europe, both civil and military, met.

This event was organized by the International Center on Governability, Development, and Security (CIGODESE), of the Real Instituto del Cano in Spain, the Center for Strategic Studies of the Peruvian Army, and Universidad de las Américas Puebla. Prof. Rodríguez Sánchez Lara, a member of the Department of International Relations and Political Science at UDLAP and coordinator of the Governance and Public Policies at the UDLAP-Jenkins Graduate School, also said that one reason for the meeting was to assess the challenges that the armed forces of the American continent face regarding new threats in the area.  Experts in security – such as the Secretary of Defense of Peru, faculty members from the Universidad Militar Nueva Granada de Colombia, of the Universidad ESAN, from the Center of Strategic Studies of Peru, and institutions in Germany and France – met and discussed these problems for three days.

Regarding the colloquium’s content, Professor Rodríguez emphasized that one of the most important subjects for him was that even though some threats are unchanged, such as terrorism, the armed forces continue to be utilized by their governments to fight crime, a matter they were not prepared for. “The conclusion at the meeting is that armies must keep to their mission of defending countries from external factors; however, the threats more often come from within the countries, such as organized crime of different types: drug trafficking, human trafficking, weapons trafficking, theft of minerals,” he added.

The army’s participation in fighting those crimes has improved their image among the citizens of American countries. For example, Professor Rodríguez said that in Mexico 80% of the population have a positive image of the armed forces. This is because they are considered to be one of the most organized and resourceful forces which can be quickly deployed to help civil institutions.

Likewise, he commented that his lecture in the meeting, “Contemporary Difficulties in the Integration Processes”, discussed challenges in hemispheric security, since this is where new threats to security systems, banks, and institutions arise.  Therefore “the armies of the world have an important task: to develop new technologies to protect this sector by dissuading and attacking illegal cyberspace activities,” stated the UDLAP faculty member.

UDLAP Faculty Member Participates in International Meeting on Conservation of Protected Areas

Dr. Celeste Cedillo, faculty member of the Political Science and International Relations department at UDLAP, was part of the technical committee at the Third Meeting on Protected Areas of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Peru, where she evaluated projects, posters, and participated as a speaker, talking about governance and environmental geography applied to the Izta-Popo Park.

Latin America has important challenges regarding the conservation of protected areas, but the most relevant are the insufficiency and disparity of the budgets to maintain and manage them. While small countries like Costa Rica have several decades effectively working in public policies, others with great diversity, such as Mexico, which has around 12% of land areas and a little more in marine areas, have problems both in monetary terms and regarding personnel and equipment.

For this reason, and many more, experts from different countries met in Peru to exchange knowledge and debate about public policy, with the objective to strengthen the capabilities of the main actors in conservation in order to promote adequate handling of protected areas in Latin America. “Representatives from academia, public organizations, private companies, indigenous leaders, and NGOs participated in this meeting.  The objective was to listen to experiences on how to improve public policies, which will allow us to have more information about how to act more effectively,” explained Dr. Cedillo.

Among the experts who attended the meeting, sponsored by the International Union for Nature Conservation (UICN) and the World Commission for Protected Areas, the UDLAP faculty member stood out; she said that “they invited me to be part of the technical committee to evaluate all the proposals, presentations, posters, and everything that will be done along strategic lines.”

Also, she had an opportunity to share her experiences in conservation and protected areas through the presentation “Environmental Governance and Environmental Geography Applied to the Izta-Popo Park”, a project that paints a study case used for her doctoral thesis and which states that “if we include a geographical focus in environmental governance we can have a better impact regarding conservation and sustainable development of protected areas.”

It is important to point out that the Third Meeting on Protected Areas of Latin America and the Caribbean helped to make known proposals of different organizations, which will be sent to the Convention on Biological Diversity, where they will review the Aichi Goals in 2020. “These are goals that have been agreed upon by several countries, among them Mexico, in order to improve conservation and to draft public policies so that protected areas function adequately,” explained the UDLAP professor.

UDLAP Faculty Member Exhibits at the Museum of Visual Arts in Santiago, Chile

  • Carlos Arias took to his exhibition in Santiago, Chile, works of his series Pahuatlán and Jornadas, the latter begun in 1995 and on which he´s worked for almost 25 years.

Carlos Arias, artist and faculty member at Universidad de las Américas Puebla, opened an exhibition in Santiago, Chile, after an absence of almost two decades. This time his collected works – La trama (auto)biográfica The (Auto)biographical Weft, held at the Museum of Visual Arts (MAVI) – represents the most important individual show of the artist in Chile. In it, he stresses social topics such as minorities, gender, sexuality, race, and immigration from an autobiographical point pf view.

The (Auto)biographical Weft: A file in transit was curated by Dr. Cynthia Francica. It shows his work as a function of objects in need of a register – a queer file, or an alternate record of stories of minority groups that are not present in official files. Its purpose is also to visualize the work of Arias in the Chilean context from the perspective of a life in a minority.

For this exhibit the artist selected works he has made since 1994, when he started to embroider and abandoned painting until today, yielding a total of 16 embroidered works in different formats. “My work is totally atemporal. I have works from ´97 until 2007 and they don’t feel old. Thread, due to its homey quality, is pleasant” explained Carlos Arias.

During the colloquium Art, Minorities, and Immigration, organized for this exhibit, Carlos Arias commented: “This exhibition arose from the book The Thread of Life (El hilo de la vida) published by UDLAP and very well edited. I sent it to some friends in Santiago, specifically to Sergio Parra, who told me that he wanted to invite me to exhibit at his gallery.” However, because Arias´s last exhibition had been held in 2002, Sergio Parra put him in touch with Maria Elena Alcalde and Cynthia Francica, who decided to exhibit it at the MAVI.

The Chilean artist, who arrived in Mexico in 1988, presents through his work the exploration of hybrid spaces in aesthetic and racial terms that extend to sexuality, gender and (trans)nationality, depicting these dimensions through identity research and intermediate spaces. This show will be available to the Chilean public until October 27, offering all its visitors a history of modern and vanguard art represented in pieces with indigenous motifs and aesthetics, like the series Pahuatlán, as well as his work Jornadas begun in 1995 and which is 20 meters long.