Longoria Emilio Alvarez Icaza
This profile was prepared when Longoria Emilio Alvarez Icaza was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
Political events taking place recently in Mexico have helped citizens become more conscious and aware. They are steadily becoming more demanding and are seeking to participate directly in building their own society. One of the most important aspects of this process is the formation of effective citizens' organizations to counter the historic failings and endemic corruption of political parties and government. Through his organization, the National Center for Social Communication, Emilio Alvarez is providing services to help citizens groups and the commercial media to become effective partners in the democratization of Mexico. The Center helps nongovernmental organizations to become professional communicators–to have and to implement a coherent media strategy as an integral part of their work. It opens the commercial media to the "newsworthiness" of the emerging citizen sector through a range of creative "citizen sector engagements" with journalists. Finally, the Center serves as a highly specialized news agency that collects, organizes and disseminates strategic information relating to key social indicators–such as human rights violations–or public opinion on national policy. As part of this information service, it is actively promoting the use of new communications technology to citizen organizations as a powerful tool for social action and mobilization. For example, the Center led the effort to utilize media in the national citizen referendum in 1995 on the government policy toward the Chiapas Zapatista rebellion. Through the media campaign associated with the referendum, sufficient publicity was generated to garner one million votes.