The Internet and Political Censorship in Mexico

By Firuzeh Shokooh Valle and Renata Ávila

In the past few months, an interesting debate has emerged in Mexico regarding the upcoming federal congressional elections after the electoral reform (a constitutional amendment) of 2007. According to various news reports, Marco Antonio Gómez Alcántar, a member of the Federal Elections Institute (IFE), an autonomous public organism that oversees Mexican elections, has expressed that, if necessary, they will eliminate content from YouTube that “denigrates and calumniates” participating political parties and possible candidates.

“If propaganda that is disseminated through the Internet could lead to calumny, the legal elements exist so that IFE can eventually take down the content; we have the responsibility to take it down,” said Gómez Alcántar in declarations published in the Mexican newspaper Excelsior.

The same article states that the general manager of communications for YouTube in Latin America, Ricardo Blanco, has said they are willing to “cooperate” with the Mexican government and other state and federal officials, if necessary.

“We are constantly working in revising and improving our terms of use policies, for the benefit of the community, and we are completely willing to cooperate with the federal and local authorities in revising each case and generating a balance between the people involved,”, said Blanco to the Excelsior.

The prominent Mexican blogger and founder of, León Krauze, has warned about the dangers of governmental censorship of the Internet. “In no time, Google will confront a new and complicated challenge with local laws. But this time it will not be in Turkey, Thailand or China. The next debate for YouTube will be to decide if it accepts to bring down content from Mexico, where a new stage of political censorship has emerged”, says Krauze in his blog post in

New electoral campaigns in Mexico after the Constitutional amendment and the restrictions on funding and space used by political parties in commercial media will give Web 2.O tools a preponderant role, in a country with one of the highest internet penetration rates of Latin America and a role on the process to private companies providing such services and tools in one of the countries with the most difficult landscape for journalists and activists. It will be a challenge to keep Internet in Mexico open and free.