Last Tuesday, the Second Standing Commission of the Mexican Congress unanimously approved a resolution promoted by Senator Francisco Castellon P(artido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD) exhorting the Executive to not sign the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The resolution was tabled and then voted on Wednesday in a joint session of Congress (including both Congressmen and Senators).
The text of the resolution is explicit about his 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.
The resolution is not binding, meaning that the Executive can ignore the resolution and sign the treaty. However, the treaty needs Senate ratification, which seems unlikely.
The resolution is the result of a process that started six months ago to bring greater accountability to the opaque ACTA negotiation process. In October 2010, Senator Carlos Sotelo presented a resolution to halt negotiations until the ACTA Working Group had been established. The resolution intended to bring transparency to the ACTA negotiations so the Senate could make a decision based on the arguments for and against ACTA from civil society, academia, private sector, NGO’s and government officials. 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. (Video: http://youtu.be/Zbv5F_8olAE)
Since the discussion of ACTA started back in October 2009, after the #internetnecesario mobilization against taxing the internet, the opposition to ACTA from the PRD has been lead by Senator Castellon. In response to negative public opinions of ACTA, an interesting coalition has gradually evolved in the Senate, which now includes the National Action Party (PAN), which is also President Caleron’s party. PAN Senators Breatriz Zavala, Santiago Creel y Federico Döring have been clear about their opposition to ACTA, and the treaty needs PAN’s votes to be ratified.
During six consultations, members of academia, citizens, lobbyists from the telecommunication and entertainment industries, and government officials presented their arguments for and against ACTA.
The same day that the Congress passed the resolution urging executive branch officials not to sign ACTA, the last session of the ACTA Working Group was celebrated. This session was especially important for two reasons:
- Rejection of ACTA is imminent during this administration that ends in the middle of 2012.
- ACTA could be signed by next administration.
Comments by Sen. Döring at the ACTA Working Group
Besides the 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 video starts at minute 17:00)
Excerpts, unofficial translation:
“I’m not here to evade a political cost. I will review 3 points:
Why we were against ACTA, we are and we will?
Because ACTA is not well done. Let go in pieces:
The previous director of IMPI (Jorge Amigo) said to Senator Beatriz Zavala and me in a meeting we had that he had to make ACTA outside WTO because if not “wouldn’t be made.” He said it would make sense – textual words – only if China will get on board. We told him, well If they don’t join and there is no arbitration panel because is at the margin of WTO what is useful for? The silence was sepulchral.”
It is relevant to note that one day after the ACTA Working Group met with the government officials involved in the negotiations, Jorge Amigo Director of Mexican Institute of Intellectual Property for 16 years and the lead Mexican ACTA negotiator, quit his public charge.
“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 theme, a law or treaty that says that it doesn’t matter the Constitution or Mexican laws but what ACTA says. Just to begin with.
PAN Senators are convinced that ACTA is not viable, even supposing that wasn’t unconstitutional, even in the context that we could instrument it internationally, even supposing that the Senate would back it. The senators of PAN don’t believe that could be instrumented in the Mexican legal framework.
You (against ACTA) articulate more information that the one the State could, you offered a position, something that the government were incapable. And the government is not only IMPI is also IFAI (Federal Institute of Access to Information) that is against, CNDH (Human Rights National Commission) are also against it, they are also part of the Mexican State. The center of the Mexican Republic couldn’t make a consensus in their position. Neither the industry with the society couldn’t agree a consensus.
The point I’m trying to make is about the risk.
Interests behind ACTA, those of whom promote it, are not going to extinguish in the elections of 2012 there is an enormous risk of ACTA not being ratified because of political calculations that in this administration and this legislature there are not the political conditions to do so.
This does not guarantee that the next president sign the treaty at the cover and shadow of those interest and you don’t have any guarantee — while we don’t have a political reform — that you will have with the support of the Congress.
Today you have the support of the senators and congressmen and the only way of doing something good, is not only say no, but to make a piece of legislation that could shatter the topic so we don’t have the risk that the next administration infringe this position.
In this legislature, from now till august 2012 can’t be passed any ratification or constitutional reform without the vote of the PAN, we are the first political group with vote participation. This guarantee you have it in the table.
What you haven’t stopped is that ACTA resurrect next legislature.
What goes first? It goes first public good in terms of slim down the gaps and inequalities. Socialize 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 through or that we didn’t invite them to the table.
The theme of ACTA is shattered for the political life of this country, at least from now till August 2012.”
The day after the meeting of the ACTA Working Group and the vote in Congresss, the new director of the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property — Rodrigo Roque Díaz — declared to the newspaper Reforma that he didn’t know why Senators would reject a treaty that would establish new benchmarks 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 Commission (of Congress) exhort the Executive power to no sign a treaty which principle 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. Reforma added:
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, director of the Motion Picture Association (MPA), reject that this resolution halt 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 make a treaty of this caliber to vanish”.
While, many Senators from other parties had tweeted their support of the rejection of ACTA in México, the European Green Parliamentarian Group , international NGO’s like La Quadrature and public opinion in general have welcomed the resolution of Mexican Congress.
More info in English about the ACTA Working Group at Global Voices