Jorge López-Bachiller Fernández. Project Manager. DW Akademie. Guatemala.

As in I believe many other our countries, open government is being introduced in the main or the most cosmopolitan and developed cities. At least that is the situation here in Guatemala. The process is being led by organisations in the capital city, together with government officials and certain international bodies.

But Guatemala is much broader, more diverse and intercultural than its capital city.

It’s safe to say that open government landed in the country in 2016 and is here to stay, mainly due to the efforts of the Organization of American States which, at the request of the President of the Republic, produced a report highlighting a series of recommendations for the implementation and strengthening of open government in Guatemala. Thereafter, and with the support of the Open Government Partnership, the Third Action Plan was created with 22 commitments and the participation of 70 public institutions and international observers, which comprised the Open Government Technical Panel.

But as tends to happen, almost all co-creation meetings, plan presentations and debates and proposals were led by the city, with little or no participation by organisations from the interior. And which excluded many voices that also represented the concerns and needs of citizens from the process.

The co-creation process included the participation of the Guatecambia organisation, with its Munis Abiertas and Congreso Transparente projects, an organisation which, supported by DW Akademie, held the “ Festival de Gobierno Abierto: por una Guatemala con ideas innovadoras” [1st Open Government Festival: for a Guatemala with innovative ideas] in November 2017. The initial idea was to hold a meeting with mayors from the interior of the country, and work with them on public information access, but in time the idea transformed into an international festival with 450 attendees, mainly from civil society organisations, public servants, universities, and local authorities, which discussed open government, Guatemala’s open government commitments, open parliament initiatives and challenges for an open state.

The festival involved 80 national and international panellists and collaboration from organisations such as the Open Government Partnership, Organization of American States, Spanish Cultural Centre in Guatemala (Spanish Cooperation), The Carter Center, Red de Gobierno Abierto para Gobiernos Locales, Red Académica de Gobierno Abierto, Alianza para un Congreso Abierto, Grupo de investigación en Gobierno, Administración y Políticas Públicas (GIGAPP), Gigapalooza, Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute, project for Civic Participation by Counterpart International (USAID), and USAID Nexos Locales Projects.

What’s more, we all had a great time, there was theatre, music and exhibitions, enabling the festival to meet its objective of integrating more organisations and people interested in the open government process, whilst promoting the importance of transparency, accountability, citizen participation and collaboration for the development of Guatemala.

It’s now turn to organise the second festival, but much larger!