Can we decide?


In various parts of the world, different governments have implemented a policy of participatory budgeting and citizen participation to improve living conditions in large cities.

In Mexico City, the main cosmopolitan city of Latin America, the implementation of these two public policies has not led to an improvement or resolution of problems identified by those who inhabit it.

Excessive bureaucracy, corruption, strengthening of distrust and the distance that separates inhabitants from those who say they govern them. These have been some of the difficulties of the participatory budget and the legislation of citizen participation.

However, there remain popular organizational expressions that directly question the structures of government and demonstrate in practice that to solve problems or meet demands, the main thing is the will and not the resources.

In the context of a new administration of the Mexican capital, academics, militants of a movement in defense of water and citizens who have decided to participate for a common good discuss these issues.


Idea original y dirección / Original idea and film direction: Heriberto Paredes

Edición y montaje / Edition and assembly: Daniela Gar

Special thanks to Virginie Martin-Onraët and Corey Chao for the advice, management and support at all times for the realization of this short documentary, without whose effort would not have been possible.

This film was made possible in part by the Stories with Impact fellowship from Reboot

This is a project Daughter #2 has been heavily involved for several months in coordination with Reboot a very active NGO. It is now complete with the release of the short documentary above. For the non-Spanish speakers, there are full English subtitles! 🙂

Do click above, you will learn things about Mexico you had never imagined. Happy Easter.

64 thoughts on “Can we decide?

  1. A fascinating video. 9 million population! This process of community proposals of projects reminds me a little of Jomo Kenyatta’s Harambee movement – all push together, grass roots up. Must come back and watch it again. Happy Easter, Brian, to you and yours, and more power to daughter #2 and her community endeavours.

    • Happy easter to you Memsahib. Asante sana for dropping by. It was a nice project. And she is working on another, larger scale, Lat Am wide. With hopefully concrete results in the near future.
      Joyeuses Pâques.

  2. Pues. Parece que es los mismos problemos hace que aῆos y aῆos. No?

    D.F. seems almost too huge to even reach any kind of cohesion as to what to do. I hope Seῆor Presidente will, eventually, find a way to solve some of these problems. Especially with water. Water was a problem in the mid-80s when I lived there. And I was in Zona Rosa! Much of the problem is related to the water, which runs deep still under the city, which makes roads/bridges/sidewalks/land unstable, which makes buildings unstable, which makes buildings fall during earthquakes.

    It makes me hopeful to see so many faces and so many ages discussing this issue. My friend, Tania Olhovich is also involved with social programs/movements and I appreciate what I learn from her FB page … as I appreciate what I learn from you.


  3. Différentes images, différente langue, différente densité … ici, mais une petite musique de fond qui y ressemble bougrement et à laquelle mon dessin de ce matin fait étrangement écho. Manipulé, vous disiez ?
    Merci, Brieuc, et une belle et grande et heureuse journée à toi.

  4. Great little documentary. So good to see people coming together to take back their communities. It’s the only way that things are going to change. Your daughter is amazing. You must be so proud. Joyeuse Pâques!

  5. I am battling to download the video, but from comments here, I presume it is very interesting and that your daughter had a lot to do with certain projects of upliftment. I shall try again later to download.

  6. Thank you for the wonderful post on Mexico, a beautiful land. You must be very proud of your daughter. I so love the artwork, I would hang that! It’s beautiful. have a lovely weekend Brian.

  7. You must be very proud of your daughter, Citizen Participation is a need everywhere, as excessive bureaucracy and corruption do nothing but guarantee continued struggles and suffering – only when the voice of the people are heard with politicians and governments change, and I think for the most part embrace such change. Great video, good to see this trend is beginning to reverse itself. Cheers to a good week ahead.

    • Thank you, you too. yes, corruption is the great evil. I did some research a few years back, corruption (and higher education) is THE single most correlated variable with GDP per capita (PPP). I’m glad the young people are doing something. 🙂

  8. Your girls are amazing.
    Very interesting video. The scale of problems is so vast, beyond the government capability for sure. My latest post is also about community involvement. It is what people everywhere in the world should start doing – cleaning up their cities and water, and helping others. Cursing their governments between the elections is not enough.

      • A young man in Paris who holds a bookstore for kids close by where we stay told me last year: “You can’t say anything anymore!”. He meant that everything was blocked including thinking…

      • But isn’t it true. I don’t have any television since the 1990s. Proud to have my brains intact 🙂 It also worries me that so called life coaches industry is blooming. Most of them are far from being helpful. People don’t trust themselves anymore. They cannot make a simple step without being coached. As you say, thinking is blocked. People have to think alike. It is scary. It smells like communism.

      • It does. Smell of. France I sometimes refer to as CCCPhi. Soviet Socialist Republic of France… 😉 Why? more than half the GDP goes into the Government’s pocket. Which they then use to buy favours and votes.
        Congrats on the TV thing. We had no TV for a long time. Then “fell” in the early 90’s. Though we don’t watch the news.

      • Good for you.
        I am afraid for the future of France… But can you imagine – I walked along the river the other day, and at some distance from Clonmel town I noticed a piece of paper, size A4, that was wrapped around a fencing pole. I thought it was an ad about a missing dog or something. When I came closer, it read: “Macron has to go. And Leo too.” In rural Ireland! People still speak their mind 🙂

      • That’s true, but I was very moved by that handmade poster at the dog walking trail. Some people still think and care.
        I have never figured out why the most poorly performing and least intelligent politicians always get to the top, and there is no real choice for the voters.

  9. The timing of this link to Mexico City is ideal as we are currently setting our sights on a visit to Mexico by the end of the year, so thank you for that.

    This notion of participatory decision making/ budgetary commitments, is fascinating, but obviously complex. Whether a good idea originates with the people through some form of referendum or from an elected official, it is quite obvious that bureaucracy and corruption can thwart the best intentions.

    We have however recently experienced at least a couple of successful initiatives that emerged from a popular impulsion to “ride the ship.” The first one is the deployment of women only train cars in India, which stemmed from the pervasive and constant harassment that women face on their daily commute to and from work. From what we can tell, the popular push for something to be done, did manage to pierce through the obstructionist wall of bureaucracy and corruption and this initiative seems wildly successful. Piloted in one Indian city and set to be expanded to many other parts of the country.

    Another example, though I can’t vouch for the fact that it started as a popular initiative, is what we found recently in Goa. Clean beaches. No plastic. This is the result of a city wide (or could be State wide) ban on plastic bags and single use plastics like straws. Anyone who has travelled the world’s beaches would recognise that having a plastic free beach is rare indeed. So the point here is that wherever this plastic ban originated, it is worth applauding that the population of shop keepers in Goa is doing a stupendous job at enforcing and self policing this plastic bag ban. We have a similar piece of legislation on the books in Sri Lanka, but frankly no one cares and it is largely ignored.

    So thumbs up to people’s attempt at self governance and budgetary prioritization but as well, thumbs up for populations that recognise a good idea and are willing to ignore/overstep/bypass/circumvent bureaucracy and apathy to do the right thing.

    And now I am going to watch the video…


    • Bonjour Ben. Merci pour tes commentaires. (Switching back to E.)
      Glad it is useful for your next trip to the crazy city.
      Women only cars is an old feature in Mexico city too. In the Underground and some buses. 5-10 years maybe?
      Plastic? A nightmare. There should be an immediate ban on disposable plastic. Worldwide. i think straws in France have been banned but effective in a coupla years!? Pourquoi pas maintenant? A good deal is education. I remember the French countryside in the 60’s. Nowhere as clean as it is now. People have learned. Some.
      A +

  10. Thanks for sharing this Brian …so wonderful and positive you’re a proud father of intelligent adult women…I love this of working in neighbourhoods and community…fills me with hope…sending you kindness and big hugs from the north ☺️💫🤗

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