Ethical Guide for the Transformation of Mexico: consult the complete document


A set of values and principles is what Mexico's president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, presented this week during his morning conference. It is the Ethical Guide for the Transformation of Mexico, which will be distributed among beneficiaries of social programs. The document, which is the result of consultations, discussions, and collective reflections, was compiled with the participation of many people over the past two years and is available online.

Ethical Guide for the Transformation of Mexico: here you can consult the complete document. Image: Mexican government booklet
Ethical Guide for the Transformation of Mexico: here you can consult the complete document. Image: Mexican government booklet

From Palacio Nacional, AMLO revealed the so-called Ethical Guide, a document that seeks to have a transformation in the country, and explained what it consists of. According to López Obrador, a certain group of his government dedicated itself to researching and conducting interviews, in order to be able to extract the values they considered pertinent to issue to the citizens through the Ethical Guide for the Transformation of Mexico.

The group that elaborated the precepts for strengthening the so-called national, cultural, and spiritual values were: Jesus Ramirez Cuevas, Veronica Velasco Aranda, Enrique Galvan Ochoa, Agustin Ortiz Pinchetti, Margarita Gonzalez, and Pedro Miguel. The president affirmed that in the country, there is not only an economic or material crisis, but also a crisis due to the loss of values: "cultural, moral, spiritual".

The project began on November 26, 2018, at AMLO's request, where a special committee began with the launching of a call to establish dialogue, and in two years at least 50 forums on ethical issues were held.

According to the guide, what will be sought is to establish behaviors to live in harmony, facilitate agreements, and encourage society for a better coexistence. According to the committee in charge of carrying out the booklet, it was developed under a series of forums that were taught in churches, schools like UNAM or UAM, in addition to 130 civil organizations. It is based on the document prepared by Alfonso Reyes and several copies will be printed to reach the homes of the elderly.

The idea is to print the guide and give it to eight million older adults, who will voluntarily transmit its content. Its objective is to reduce the action of pursuing crimes. The document is a reference for reflection, it will be used as an agreement and not as an imposition. These are the 20 principles and values.


Behavior attached to ethical standards is indispensable for living in harmony with our conscience and for the well-being and good functioning of couples, families and friends, neighborhoods and multi-families, neighborhoods, cities, ejidos, communities, civil organizations, companies, institutions, countries, and even the international community. On the other hand, the abandonment of such norms leads sooner rather than later to antisocial behavior, disregard for the law, destruction of peace, and disintegration at all levels of society.

Thus a vicious circle is established and civilization spirals into barbarism. Thus, a society that neglects to protect its weakest members soon falls into the law of the jungle, where the strongest impose their decisions and interests and oppress the rest, and where everyone fights each other in a ruthless competition that places the collective on the path of disintegration.

The dissemination and strengthening of ethical values allows us to overcome breaks and fractures, strengthens people's respect for themselves and others, builds trust, facilitates agreements and collaboration, and thus promotes the development of strong, free, and just societies. The more the ethical sense is extended in society, the greater the well-being and social harmony, the better the coexistence will be and the less need there will be to prosecute crimes.

The neoliberal and oligarchic regime that prevailed in the country between the 1980's and the first two decades of the 21st century crushed by all means the idea that the traditional culture of the Mexican people was synonymous with backwardness and that modernity resided in values such as competitiveness, profitability, productivity and personal success as opposed to fraternity and collective interests; He preached that the population should accommodate to the ups and downs of the economy, instead of promoting an economy that satisfied the needs of the people; the highest officials set an example of corrupt and criminal behavior and disdain for the people and even human life.

Much of the business activity was contaminated by an extreme pragmatism in which every human consideration and every national interest was discarded in favor of excessive profit. Corrupt behavior also proliferated among labor, agrarian, and civil society organizations and even within families. The ethics that have characterized the Mexican people throughout its history were distorted and eroded, resulting in a generalized moral decline in the country.

In view of the decomposition and decadence to which Mexico was led, we propose to reaffirm, disseminate and promote the ethical principles until recently scorned and ridiculed in the recent past from the heights of political and economic power, as well as incorporating and strengthening other norms of conduct that have emerged in the world and in the country as a result of the reflection on social-moral issues and the general civilizing advance.

Any lasting social transformation with a historical scope entails a change in the general agreement on the principles of coexistence, and in that change, the recovery of traditional norms that had been abandoned is combined with an advance towards new moral notions that allow us to solve the ethical dilemmas of our time. Of course, the adoption of a new ethical guide by society must be the result of the agreement and not of imposition, of education, and not of coercion.

The Fourth Transformation of National Public Life has set out to eradicate corruption, build a state of well-being and law, and inherit a free, democratic, and sovereign country in which politics is guided by the principle of service to others and in which development leaves no one out. In order to fulfill such purposes, it is necessary to promote a revolution of conscience, that is, to build a new humanist and solidarity ethic that leads to the recovery of traditional Mexican and universal values and of our national greatness.

Like the rest of the world, Mexico is currently going through an extremely painful health crisis that has claimed countless lives and brought spiritual and material suffering to millions of Mexicans. The covid-19 pandemic placed humanity and our country before the challenge of ethical renewal, but it also brought to light exemplary behaviors, both in the social and individual spheres, which must be recognized and encouraged: family cohesion, the selfless sacrifice of health personnel, and the solidarity that has allowed many people to move forward despite the economic dislocation caused in almost all countries by contagion mitigation measures. In our nation, these behaviors have meant the difference between a critical situation and a total disaster, and we have tried to take them into account when preparing this guide.

Here is presented a synthesis of principles, values, and precepts that, without being exhaustive, offers the principles and values generally considered as positive for the construction of a better life and society, to promote morally acceptable solutions when particular and collective goals come into conflict and to increase the physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, political, social, economic and environmental well-being of Mexicans. Its purpose is to contribute to the construction of a peaceful, civic national coexistence with freedom, peace, justice, dignity, and security.

This document is the product of consultations, discussions, and collective reflections in which many people participated and tries to reconcile the common feeling with the plurality of feelings. We, the undersigned, assume full responsibility for what is written. Not only are we aware of its controversial character, but we hope to offer a text that encourages discussion and serves as a basis for it, with the certainty that it is perfectible and that it is open to correction and enrichment by the citizenry, without any exclusion. We hope, therefore, that the first edition of this guide will give rise to reflections, criticisms, and observations that in the near future can be incorporated into a new version.

1. From respect to the difference

Let us avoid imposing "our world" on the world of others

Humanity is diverse by nature and in many ways, and the exercise of freedom inevitably leads to diversity. In the case of Mexico, this diversity is religious, political, ideological, economic, social, cultural, linguistic, traditions and habits, gender, and sexual identities. 

Each state, each municipality, and each neighborhood has its own identity. Not all people are like you, not all think as you think or speak as you speak, not all act in the way you act. Respect the way others are and do not try to impose your behaviors, tastes, opinions, or preferences on them.

Laicism is a fundamental principle of the Mexican State and translates into daily coexistence, respect for the beliefs of every person, and their freedom to profess the religion they wish or not to profess any religion at all.

2. About life

There is nothing more valuable than the life, freedom, and security of people

Take care of your life and the lives of others. Don't waste it on things that you yourself consider not worthwhile. Give it meaning and purpose until the end of your days.

3. Concerning dignity

No one should be humiliated

Dignity is the value that every human being has by the very fact of being a person and what makes him/her the subject of universal rights; it is also what makes him/her worthy of the respect of others. Nothing and nobody can take away your dignity: neither poverty nor hunger nor aggression, discrimination, persecution, or prison. No one can humiliate you if you do not humble yourself. Defend your dignity even in the worst conditions and respect the dignity of others, because if you do not, you lose your own.

4. Regarding freedom

Peace and freedom are inseparable. No one can be at peace without freedom

Freedom is the set of decisions that are allowed to you by law and by your own abilities; the only limit is the rights of other people. Only those who know these limits and are able to govern themselves with them in mind can consider themselves free.

To exercise your freedom, it is necessary that nothing and nobody, particularly the authorities, interfere with your personal choices and that the state guarantee your safety, your integrity, and your life so that you can make them, as long as you do not harm others or violate their rights.

Work to expand your freedom and that of others by combating senseless prohibitions, unjust laws, absurd limitations, and authoritarianism. Promote the triumph of freedom by helping to create a world where people's responsibility makes borders and prisons unnecessary. Many gave their lives to build the freedom you have today. Pay back their sacrifice by expanding freedom for those to come.

5. Love

Love of neighbor is the essence of humanism

Love is the yearning for the integration of your own person and this one with the others; it is the compass and the main anchor in your life. It is diverse and at the same time, it is one. It is expressed as love for yourself, for your mother, for your father, for your children, for your brothers and sisters or for your partner, but also as love for your close neighbors, for your friends, for your country, for the species, for the environment and for the organisms with which you share the planet; for knowledge, for professional practices, for the arts and for sports; for those who came before you and for future generations.

Be a loving person, from your bed and your table to universal brotherhood. Be compassionate: love especially those who lead difficult lives for lack of love. Every token of consideration and affection they receive from you, however small, will be a priceless gift to them. Cultivate love always because a life without love is the aridest emptiness and the worst lack a human being can suffer.

6. Suffering and pleasure

There is no greater joy than the happiness of others

Joy and sorrow are inseparable parts of life, both in its spiritual and bodily expressions. Enjoy with no other limitations than that of not harming anyone and not hurting your own person. Turn the joy of others into a motive for your own joy; never turn the suffering of others into a motive for your pleasure, nor your pleasure into ostentation.

Do not become fond of pain; mourn your losses and move on. Take care of yourself and love yourself, but do not enjoy feeling sorry for yourself.

7. From the past and the future

Those who do not know where they come from hardly know where they are going

You are who you are and you are where you are because of so many beings that preceded you, from your parents and your grandparents and your grandparents' grandparents to the first specimens of the human species. You are a link in a chain that links generations. Cultivate an understanding of the past and help build a better future.

Seek to know, understand, and honor your biological and cultural ancestors and leave a mark that will make the lives of your descendants better. Love those who died before you were born and of whom you have news and memories: your memory is their home and their strength. Love those who will come after you, because your hope is the place where they live. Love the creature that you were and the old person that you will be, because they are inseparable parts of yourself.

8. Gratitude

Appreciation is the greatest virtue of a good person

Gratitude is an attribute that dignifies like no other, and its opposite, ingratitude, degrades like few others. If you thank those who have benefited you without being obliged to do so, you reinforce generosity and build civilization. If, on the contrary, you ignore those who have done something good for you, you promote selfishness, rudeness, and insensitivity, and contribute to barbarism.

9. About forgiveness

Forgiveness liberates the giver and receiver

Asking for forgiveness and forgiving are among the most difficult things in our relationship with others. There is a natural resistance to apologizing because those who do so feel that they are lowering themselves, humiliating themselves or giving up, and so they do not get a glimpse of the enormous liberating power of forgiveness. Regardless of whether or not forgiveness is obtained, those who sincerely ask for it and are willing to repair the damage or pain caused recover their dignity and inner peace.

He who forgives gets rid of rancor, thirst for revenge and even hatred and can thus overcome the offense and move on.

Ask for forgiveness if you acted badly and grant it if you were a victim of mistreatment, aggression, abuse or violence, which will allow the liberation of the guilt of the one who offended you.

Forgive yourself. One's mistakes often lead to an inner suffering that is difficult to escape. Understand the motivations for your misconduct, turn it into learning, and make amends for the harm done.

10. Redemption

Evil must not be confronted with evil

In antiquity, redemption referred to the act by which a slave obtained his freedom, or payment to recover a pawned object. Today it means the overcoming of errors, the awareness of wrongdoing, and repentance that implies the acknowledgment of guilt and the purpose of not committing again a crime or immoral action.

For conservatism and authoritarianism, incorrect or criminal attitudes must be severely punished and the people who present them must be separated from society, degraded, and subjected to permanent mistrust. From a humanist perspective, criminals and corrupt people can redeem themselves through reflection, education, and even psychological therapy, without giving up, of course, for the security of society and for the sake of justice, the possibility of sanctions such as deprivation of liberty.

Faced with an offender, institutions, citizens, and individuals can choose between the belief in innate evil and the conviction that every person is a product of his circumstances and capable of redeeming himself. He prefers freedom to prohibition; school to prison; hope to mistrust and suspicion.

11. About equality

Good law must moderate opulence and indigence; there cannot be equal treatment between unequals

It follows from the dignity of origin that we deserve equality. Social and economic position, place of birth and residence, occupation, sex, gender, sexual orientation, level of education, political positions, and religious beliefs are not a basis that justifies the unequal treatment of a person by society or authorities to anyone in particular, nor do they result in the denial of any fundamental right, nor do they lead anyone to prejudge the person's abilities and capacities.

Contrary to conservative thinking, inequality is not a natural fact or part of divine order. Whoever is born poor should not be condemned to die poor.

Inequality in any field is a product of injustice and generates suffering. Before the abyss of inequalities of all kinds that prevail in the country and in the world, it is the duty of all to contribute to the establishment of effective equality. But until this is achieved, you must help those who are disadvantaged, weak, at risk, or discriminated against in any area of life.

Those who are unequal cannot be treated equally. The slogan "The poor first" does not mean to give them a privilege to the detriment of those who are not in poverty, but to mitigate the disadvantages of those who are reduced to poverty in order to build a more just and egalitarian society. Likewise, machismo and violence against women must be eradicated. This does not mean discriminating against men, but rather seeking full equality, in law and in practice, of rights and obligations between women and men and ensuring that the former have favorable circumstances for their development, their physical and emotional integrity, and their security.

Combating the poverty and marginalization of indigenous communities is not about privileging them, but rather about restoring the rights that have been denied to them for centuries and a way of realizing their dignity and self-determination.

12. Truth, word, and trust

No lying, no stealing, no betraying

Truthfulness is the quality of the word to stick to reality. Certainly, not all people have the same idea about a certain fact and it is frequent that disputes arise about the veracity of an expression or a speech. But it is possible to minimize such disputes if those who take part in them conduct themselves honestly and expose what they consider to be the truth.

A person lies when he deliberately misrepresents or distorts the facts, even though he knows that what he is saying is partially or totally false. Such behavior quickly deteriorates social relationships and eventually affects the liar.

Defend the truth you believe and open your mind to the truth of others, and above all do not cling to the defense of a lie.

A particularly pernicious form of falsehood is to promise something and not keep it, or to promise actions in one direction and then act in the opposite direction, i.e., to break a commitment made.

There is a betrayal of one's own word and, even more serious, betrayal of the trust of others.

Lies and betrayal destroy trust, which is the credibility that others have placed in you. When these practices become widespread and generalized, they destroy the very foundation of civilized coexistence.

Always express yourself truthfully, honor your word, and do not abuse anyone's trust. If you conduct yourself with loyalty and consistency, others will know what to expect from you and will not be disappointed by your word or your deeds.

13. Concerning the fraternity

To be fraternal is to make other people's problems your own

Fraternity is the active and affective, but respectful, commitment to finding solutions to the problems of others. Ideally, it should guide the social action of states, governments, institutions, societies, and individuals in order to overcome or alleviate the suffering, lack, and defenselessness of millions of people.

It is a collective duty of nations to offer to every one of their daughters and sons a cradle to be born, a desk to learn, tools to work, a bed to sleep, a table to eat, a roof to shelter, a place at the hospital to heal, and a grave to rest.

If you devote a part of your time to contribute to the realization of that task, your reward will be to live in a freer, fairer, safer, more peaceful, and more prosperous country.

14. Law and justice

Outside the law, nothing; above the law, no one

Everything, by reason and right; nothing, by force

Justice is the civilized conciliation of the rights of two or more social actors based on law.

Its main guide is the set of local, national, and international laws. It is the main means of preventing conflicts from being resolved through violence. That is why it is said that peace is the fruit of justice.

Laws are imperfect by nature and must constantly be adapted to human and social realities, which are always changing. Thus, the situation arises that unjust laws must be modified. It struggles with the word, with social organization, and with legal resources to modify laws that are not just.

It is not enough that laws exist for there to be justice. There must also be institutions attached to legality and public servants willing to comply with it in an impartial, equitable, and undistinguished way. This is called the "rule of law" and it generates legal certainty in society. When, on the contrary, the laws are not applied or are applied in a factional, discretionary, and arbitrary manner, injustice and impunity proliferate; this is what is called the "State of the Crooked.

If justice depends on you, try to put yourself in the place of those who claim it and to act according to laws and regulations and according to your conscience.

15. Authority and power

Power only makes sense and becomes a virtue when it is placed at the service of others

Power is the ability to act and make decisions on behalf of others. Authority is the trust that others place in you to act according to their needs and interests. Neither power nor authority are rights or attributes of your person. One and the other only make ethical sense when exercised to serve others. If you use it for your own benefit or that of those close to you, you incur corruption, pervert your position, betray the trust placed in you, destroy your dignity and prestige, harm your family and those close to you, and you will not know the satisfaction of serving others.

If you come to the public office you must always remember that you are there as a representative and be faithful to your constituents; keep in mind that you are the mandatary and that your principals are the ones who command you; in other words, you must always adhere to the principle of commanding by obeying.

Politics is everyone's business. Even if you do not hold public office, you should not neglect political matters or things that are in the general interest. Apathetic individuals and societies are food for authoritarianism and oppression. Maintaining a participatory, critical, and vigilant attitude about your rulers is the essence of democracy and the best way to preserve freedom, welfare, and peace. Never forget that the people are in charge and that they have the right to put and take away their rulers, as well as to take part in public affairs.

16. About the work

There is no greater satisfaction than having a job and enjoying it

Like power, work acquires its full meaning when it is done for others. Work assures us of sustenance; it links us to our fellow men and women and offers us a form of personal fulfillment; it is universal as a right and as a duty from which minors, older adults and people with disabilities are excluded. From the most humble to the most prestigious, work articulates human beings in society. When you do yours, always keep in mind your client, your consumer, your patient, your student, and put the best of yourself in your task.

The pay, the salary, the fees and the labor benefits are the recognition of your effort and the condition for your sustenance and that of yours and your immediate well-being. Stand up for your labor rights. Do not allow yourself to be exploited and if you are exploited, seek to remedy it with organization and argument and with laws and regulations in hand.

Respect the rights of your colleagues and seek to improve and expand those of your employees. Do not destroy, unless it is to build something better. Don't waste inputs and don't throw away things that may still be useful.

17. Wealth and Economy

It is not the richest who has more but the most generous

It is lawful to possess and increase material goods through industrial, commercial, financial, professional, or service activities, as long as this is done with respect for the law and with the awareness that wealth must be distributed. It is also legitimate and contributes to development when dignified jobs are created, when fair taxes are paid to the treasury, and when the higher interests of the country and society are respected, such as the care of the environment and the preservation of sovereignty.

It is not lawful to become rich through deceit, at the expense of other people's suffering, at the expense of the common good, or to the detriment of the welfare of others. Ill-advised wealth is that which is achieved through deceit, theft, abuse of privileged information, or by privatizing what belongs to everyone or what should not be owned. Such forms of enrichment are corrupt.

Whoever seeks reasonable profit, whoever pawns his creativity, takes risks and maintains sources of work, will be recognized by society as a responsible businessman with a social sense; on the contrary, whoever pretends to do business through influence peddling, unscrupulous agreements affecting the public finances or through mere speculation, will become worthy of reproach and discredit.

The economy must serve the people and not the other way around. The wealth that has the greatest positive effect on the lives of individuals and countries is that which is best distributed. An economy that complies with these two principles is a moral economy.

18. About the agreements

Commitments are honored

When you take part in an agreement, try to make it beneficial to all parties and not just to your interests or needs. Unbalanced agreements, which are succulent for some and unfair for others, do not usually last long because they do not resolve the underlying conflicts; they simply hide them and postpone them.

If you make a business that benefits you, take care that it does not impoverish your counterpart because that is a form of injustice and your prestige will end up falling.

19. Family

The family is the main social security institution in Mexico

The family is the basic cell of society, the first school, the first medical clinic and, in our country, a nucleus of mutual aid that welcomes individuals in adverse circumstances, as evidenced in the pandemic we face today. In periods of economic crisis, many families become productive centers and mitigate unemployment, and when disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes occur, many homes take in individuals or entire families who have been affected.

Although it is usually represented in only one of its forms, that of a couple with children, the family is a very variable unit without a unique model. In this environment of cohabitation and daily life there can be one person or many, individuals with or without blood or marital relationship, of the same sex or different sex.

Regardless of how it conforms, the family must be governed by the same ethical considerations as the rest of society: respect for dignity, freedom, equality and fraternity.

Treat the members of your family with the respect and dignity they deserve, seek a fair and equitable distribution of domestic work, respect the individuality and autonomy of each of your relatives according to their age and aptitudes, avoid authoritarian, violent and arbitrary attitudes and try to resolve conflicts through dialogue. If there are children and older people in your family, treat them with respect and instill in the younger ones the ethical principles referred to here and educate them by example.

20. Concerning animals, plants and things

By taking care of the air, water, soil, plants, animals and things, we all take care

The land and territory, our common home, must be cared for and protected by all in order to maintain the balance and harmony of the cycles of life and to pass them on to future generations.

We share the planet with countless non-human organisms. Many of them have been on earth for millions of years before the emergence of humanity and many others will still be here when we are gone. From plants and other animals, we are distinguished by intellect and a qualitatively greater capacity to transform the environment, as portentous as it is terrible. Except for the agrarian and ancestral communities, humanity has lost control of this capacity and has generated immeasurable damage to the environment. It is an ethical imperative of the first order to recover that control in order to restore the damaged or destroyed ecosystems and to collaborate to recover the lost balance in the planetary scope, not only for the survival of the other species but also for ours.

The intellect and reason do not grant you special privileges but, on the contrary, they impose specific obligations to the natural environment, such as not to encourage its destruction and not to take pleasure in its deterioration.

Seek to preserve the life and natural environment of animals and plants unless your integrity and life are at stake. We must be extremely careful in the use of natural resources and avoid imbalances or the depletion of them in the cycle of a few generations, depriving our descendants of their benefit. Do not pollute the water, land, and air.

We have the duty to share our attribution of dignity with all living beings in the world and even with inanimate things, such as the atmosphere, rivers and oceans, and mineral deposits, and to assume that we are not the kings of any creation but passengers, along with a diversity of organisms, in a ship that travels through the immensity of space.

Mexico City, November 2020

Enrique Galván Ochoa, Pedro Miguel, José Agustín Ortiz Pinchetti, Jesús Ramírez Cuevas, Margarita Valdés González Salas, Verónica Velasco Aranda

Translation by Mexicanist

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