Governor of Chihuahua Maru Campos Examines Challenges in Mexican Public Policy
In a March 15 event, Georgetown Americas Institute (GAI) Founding Director Alejandro Werner and U.S.-Mexico Foundation Executive Director Enrique Perret co-moderated a presentation by María Eugenia (Maru) Campos Galván (G’05), governor of Chihuahua, on key challenges in the formation and implementation of public policy in the largest state of Mexico.
On September 8, 2021, Maru Campos became the first female governor of the state of Chihuahua, after serving as the first female mayor of the city of Chihuahua from 2016 to 2018. Since then, her administration has embarked on an innovative public policy platform with a focus on economic development, public safety, energy, and cooperation with the United States on border governance.
In a presentation co-sponsored by Georgetown University’s Latin American Policy Association, Georgetown Americas Institute, Center for Latin American Studies, and the Georgetown University Graduate Association of Mexican Students, held in partnership with the U.S.-Mexico Foundation, Campos began with an overview of the new political landscape in Mexico. She described an increasing decentralization of power, with governors now promoting personal and local agendas rather than presidential and national agendas.
“State municipalities have to take responsibility for local issues like migration, even with fewer resources,” she said. “States with the most success have leaders that come from the local arena.”
Responding to COVID-19
For many governors in Mexico, the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing global health crisis highlighted gaps in government infrastructure. Over the course of the pandemic, Campos reached out to over 70 institutions in Chihuahua within the government and private sector to make sure that the basic needs of her constituents were met.
“Our administration also wanted to create protocols to prevent future governments from collapsing in situations like the pandemic. Health is now a factor that any government at any level needs to take into account.”
Forming and Implementing Public Policy
For Campos, such protocols include tying her administration’s public policy to the private sector, civil society, the government, and academia. The goal of these partnerships is to help public policy become as local as possible and representative of the people.
“We saw that we needed other sectors to multiply our efforts, in the hope that these sectors could carry out what we were not able to,” she said. “For example, we have allowed the private sector to evaluate us and tell us where we can improve using sophisticated indicators.”
One key aspect in implementing public policy in Chihuahua is the modernization of security infrastructure. These efforts have focused on 13 priority municipalities and included updates on cameras, drones, and security architecture. Campos shared her personal appreciation for the focus on modernization through a gender perspective.
“As a woman, I cannot avoid the issue of domestic violence, which has increased during the pandemic,” she said. “As a woman in office, you have to be creative, but when you have a cause, you are resilient enough to push through.”
María Angélica Granados Trespalacios, minister of innovation and economic development in the state of Chihuahua, expressed optimism over the state’s potential for energy and consolidation of micro, small, and medium companies.
“The first thing that investors ask about is energy,” she said. “Chihuahua has enough renewable energy resources to move towards clean energy.”
Restoring Trust in Government
This optimism has been channeled towards creating public policy in Chihuahua that is well-planned, implemented, and evaluated. Campos emphasized the need for responsible and innovative public servants in Mexico, and Latin America in general, so as to restore peoples’ trust in government.
“We need you all in Latin America because current governments generally do not plan well,” she said, speaking to the Georgetown students in the audience. “Public policy goes hand in hand with politics, but do not be afraid to get involved.”
Pedro Casas Alatriste, president of the Latin American Policy Association, asked Campos to provide advice for students interested in public service. As an alumna of Georgetown, Campos emphasized the need to be determined and focused.
“Stay away from those with a bad reputation, and do not hesitate to do the right thing. Be an alternative for your country and your state, and you will notice when you make a difference.”