The Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies presents:
"The Explosion of Freedom of Information Laws in Latin America - Explaining Windows into Government and Window-Dressing"
Associate Professor Greg Michener (Fundação Getúlio Vargas University, Rio de Janeiro.)
Over the last decade, a wave of transparency and freedom of information measures has swept across Latin America and the world. Globally, 94 countries now have freedom of information laws, and thirteen of those have been adopted in Latin America. Yet in a landscape marked by legacies of secrecy, authoritarianism and human rights abuses, do these measures serve as windows into government or mere window-dressing? Freedom of information across Latin America illustrate striking variation - while countries such as Mexico and Chile are changing cultures of opacity into openness, others have either delayed or resisted greater transparency. What explains this variation? The presentation illuminates the state of freedom of information across Latin America and provides evidence to suggest that two factors have had determinate effects on the performance of transparency and freedom of information: the activism of the news media on the one hand and, on the other, the political control of presidents over the legislative and executive branches of government.
Greg Michener is Associate Professor of political science, public policy and international relations at the Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration, a department within the Fundação Getúlio Vargas University, Rio de Janeiro. A Canadian citizen and permanent resident of Brazil by way of marriage, Michener completed a B.A. at McGill University and both an M.A. in Latin American Studies and a Ph.D. in Comparative Politics and International Relations at the University of Texas at Austin. His doctoral dissertation (2010), "Surrendering Secrecy: Freedom of Information in Latin America", is the basis for a book under contract with Cambridge University Press (forthcoming 2013). Michener has published technical reports on transparency and freedom of information for international organizations such as Article 19 and the Open Society Institute, and academic articles in periodicals such as the Journal of Democracy. He is a regular editorial contributor to Al Jazeera International, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Latin American Advisor, and hosts the blog "Observing Brazil." In addition to transparency and disclosure, Michener's research interests include the politics of the media, technology and open government, corruption, accountability, and legislative agenda-setting.