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Tools of Transparency

Steve Fisher

Mexico-based investigative reporter with a focus on criminal justice and organized crime. A frequent contributor to the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and more.


I’m going to start by saying something that might surprise most of you: access to public records in Mexico is infinitely better than in the United States. In Mexico, there is a clearing house for public records with an online portal, where you can choose if you want to receive your information from a particular state or the federal government. Once you fire off your request, on the other side there’s an office in every state and every public institution that receives these requests and asks the specified institution for the information you need. If they reject your request or claim it’s too much work, you can file an appeal. There is a bank of lawyers waiting to fight on your behalf and file a public appeal. If the institution rejects it again, it goes to judges in a court, and a panel of judges will decide. There are times you will face rejection for your requests, but when you don’t, it’s amazing!