The Mexican Political Economy Since 1945
Created by M. Forman, M. Martin, S. Rivera (HIS 135, Spring 2009)
|Assignment||Mexican Drug War and the Impact on U.S. Relations|
|Political Geography||Recommended Books|
|U.S. Mexico Border||Recommended Movies|
|Political History||Recommended Online Videos|
|North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)|
What are some of the factors have influenced
Over the course of the last century, Mexico’s political economy has been marked by the following trends: (1) an increase in civil liberties, (2) the influence of the National Revolutionary Party (PRI), (3) an increase in regional trade as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and (4) the impact of US–Mexico border relations.
The political history of
The North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect in 1994 as an agreement between
Since the Great Depression,
1824 – Constitution promulgated a federal form of government
1848 - Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
1857 – New constitution included civil liberties
1858 – War of Reform
1862 - Benito Pablo Juarez elected president
1872 – Sebastian Lerdo de Tejado became
1877 - Porfiro Diaz elected president
1910 – Diaz reelected president
1911 – Diaz forced to resign and Francisco Indalecio Madero elected president
1917 - New constitution promulgated a labor code, prohibited a president for serving two consecutive terms, and returned lands to Indians
1917 – Carranza elected president, but later
killed by opposition forces on
1920 – Alvaro Obregon elected president
1928 – Alvaro Obregon reelected president but later assassinated
1928 – Emilio Portes Gil awarded provisional president
1932 – Alberlardo Rodriguez awarded provisional president
1934 – Lazaro Cardenas elected president
1940 – Manual Avila Camacho elected president
1952 – Adolfo Ruiz Cortines elected president
1958 – Adolfo Lopez Mateos elected president
1964 – Gustavo Diaz Ordaz elected president
1970 – Luis Echevarria Alvarez elected president
1976 – Jose Lopez Portillo elected president
1982 – Miguel de la Madrid Hurado elected president
1985 – Earthquake killed 9500 citizens
1988 – Carlos Salinas de Cortari elected president
1988 – Hurricane Gilbert caused severe damage estimated at $880 million
1992 – Constitution changed state and church relations
December 1992 – NAFTA signed
December 1994 – Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon inaugurated as president
October 1997 – floods ravaged eastern
July 2000 – Vicente Fox elected president
Map of Mexico
In the early 19th century,
Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution (1917),
drafted following the Revolution, sanctioned the redistribution of land and
land rights to townships as ejidos, or communal land holdings (Perez). The
Mexicans witnessed not only changes in land
use patterns, but also an increase in urbanization. Migrants moved to
Urbanization in Mexico
Since the Great Depression, the
The American and Mexican governments developed agreements to permit a specified number of workers annually, despite continued illegal border crossings. In March 1952, the United States Congress passed a bill mandating fines for American employers who recruited illegal aliens.
Throughout the 1960s, Cesar Chavez promoted
the rights of migrant workers. He was
founder of the United Farmer Workers Association (UFWA). Cesar Chavez along
with Dolores Huerta fought against the Bracero Program,
which existed from 1942 to 1964. Both
believed that this program weakened
In 1986, the U.S. Congress passed the
Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). This act banned employers from hiring undocumented immigrants illegal
(immigrants who were not eligible to work in the U. S.), mandated employers to
verify their employee’s employment eligibility, and awarded amnesty to illegal
immigrants who had entered the U. S. prior to January 1, 1982, and had
maintained continuous residency in the United States. The act also provided a route towards
legalization for specific groups of agricultural seasonal workers and
immigrants who had resided continuously in the
The U.S. Congress passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 on
Since the constitution of 1857, a federal
government has ruled
Increase in Civil Liberties
Benito Pablo Juarez led Mexicans in their
quest for democracy, promoting the constitution of 1957. This constitution included universal male
suffrage and civil liberties. Conflict
ensued between the conservative opponents and the liberal proponents on the
constitution. The 1858 War of Reform led
to the separation of church and state and the nationalization of church
property (History). For the next 50
The Mexican Revolution of 1910 highlighted
the inequalities between the rich and poor masses, encompassed by the hacienda
system. In the late 19th century, Porfiro Diaz led a series of violent revolts until he assumed the
presidency in 1876 and remained in office until he was forced to resign in
1911. Findley and Rothney, note that the
revolution passed through three phases: (1) mass mobilization to overthrow Diaz
(1910-1914); (2) “class conflict,
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Mexican government passed reforms aimed at increasing the civil rights. In 1953, the Mexican Legislature granted women the right to vote (History). In 1962, the legislature approved a constitutional amendment to force businesses to share profits with workers. In the early 1960s, Mexican citizens organized hunger marches and squatter invasions (History).
The Decline of the PRI: Electoral Maps from the 2000 and 2006 Presidential Elections
Influence of the National Revolutionary Party (PNR)
The National Revolutionary Party (PNR), founded by Plutarco Alias Calles in 1929, dominated Mexican politics until 1997. This government political changed names over the course of 70 years, moving from a socialist influence at its creation to more democratic in nature by the 1990’s. In 1932, the PNR developed a 6-year program aimed toward socialist policies, including “a labor code, public works, distribution of land, and the seizure of foreign owned oil lands”(History). Lazaro Cardenas, elected president in 1934, implemented the plan, promoting reforms in agriculture, education, and social welfare.
The 1960s and 1970s marked a time of economic
instability. In 1964, Mexican citizens
elected Gustavo Diaz Ordaz as president. While the
The 1980s brought in an increase in foreign
debt, falling oil prices, and natural disasters. Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado served as
president from 1982 until his successor
Carlos Salinas de Gortari claimed a PRI victory in 1988. The earthquake of 1985 killed 9,500
Mexicans. Another natural disaster,
Hurricane Gilbert, hit in 1988, devastating the
Mexican politics in the 1990s brought
constitutional reform, violent unrest, and a regional trading agreement. The March 1992 constitutional changes
included land reform and an abolishment of restrictions imposed on the Catholic
church. In December 1992, Mexican President Salinas, American President
Bush, and Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney signed the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA). The Zapatista
National Liberation Army violently took over towns in
The value of the peso spiraled downward throughout the mid 1990s. Mexicans elected Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon in December 1994. With public discontent and mistrust rising, the PNR was defeated in 2000 and 2006 presidential elections. Vicente Fox Quesada won the popular vote in July 2000 and served a 6-year term. In 2006, Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa of the National Action Party (PAN) defeated the PRI candidate once again in the presidential elections.
The NAFTA Flag
The North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) is a trade pact connecting
The initial goal of NAFTA was to create a
regional free trade zone by removing tariffs on the majority of goods produced
by the participating nations. The majority of its key conditions included,
removing barriers to cross-border investment and the movement of goods and
services among the three nations. These key provisions were scheduled to gradually
take effect over a period of 15 years (
Over its 14 year history, there have been
many debates on the pros and cons of NAFTA. Proponents of NAFTA have claimed that there
has been an increase in jobs, and a rise in imports for all three nations. Opponents have criticized that there has been
an increase in jobs lost in the
Government studies have cited financial statistics that all three adjoining countries have received significant economic and monetary gain from this unilateral agreement. All three countries have benefited by the following (USTR):
The Mexican Drug War is an on-going armed battle between adversary
drug cartels and the Mexican government. Although coordinated efforts to eradicate and thwart Mexican drug
cartels have yielded positive results (arrests and conviction of many
high-ranking drug traffickers and other violent offenders), the drug war is far
from over. It rages throughout
|The Mexican Mafia, formed in
the 1950s, was a catalyst for drug trafficking and gang violence in both
|The war continues today. To honor Camarena’s memory and to continue his fight against illegal drugs, the National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth and the DEA established an eight-day Red Ribbon Campaign, celebrated every year during the last week in October. The purpose of this campaign is to establish a shared commitment toward establishing a Drug-Free America, while remembering those who have lost their lives due to drug-related violence.|
During a visit to
Hillary Clinton in Mexico, photo Miguel Tovar, Associated Press
Cesar Chavez entry in Wikipedia. Accessed
Coerver, Don M. Mexico: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Culture and History. ABC-CLIO, 2004.
Ejido entry in Wikipedia. Accessed
Ellingwood, Ken. Hillary Clinton Wraps up Mexico Visit – Calls drug violence
Findley, Carter Vaughn and John Alexander Murray Rothney. Twentieth Century World. 5th Ed. Boston Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002.
History of NAFTA by Kimberly Amadeo. Accessed 9 April 2009.
Houssain, Farhana. The Reach of Mexico’s Drug Cartels. New York Times, 22 March 2009.
Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 entry in Wikipedia. Accessed 15 April 2009.
Mexico entry in Wikipedia. Accessed 15 April 2009.
Mexico – United States Border entry in Wikipedia. Accessed 15 April 2009.
Mexican Drug War entry in Wikipedia. Accessed 14 April 2009.
Mexico: America’s Not-so-new Security Crisis. Accessed 26 February 2009.
NAFTA entry in wiki.
NAFTA The Road Ahead (*.pdf file) United States Trade Representative.
NAFTA. 9 April 2009. Office of the United States Trade Representative
Perez, Ramona L. "From ejido to colonia: Reforms to Article 27 and the formation of an urban landscape in Oaxaca." In Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development (September 2003). See excerpt (*.pdf)
Sawyer, W. C., & Sprinkle, R. L. International Economics. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006.
Smith, David Gaddis. Scholar: NAFTA Has Helped Mexico, but Not Enough.
2008 The Word Factbook, Mexico. Accessed 9 April 2009.
U.S. – Mexican War entry in Wikipedia. Accessed 15 April 2009.
US Mexico Border Fence and Patrol Operations. Accessed 9 April 2009.
US – Mexican War (1846-1848), 1995, PBS. This provides a historical overview of the U.S.-Mexican War, which set the stage for border debates in the coming century.
Mexican Immigration, 20 April 2005, Library of Congress. This highlights policy issues surrounding Mexican Immigration to the United States.
Mexico-United States Relations Overview, 13 April 2009, Wikipedia. This illustrates the evolution of U.S.-Mexican relations as they relate to economics. Wikipedia refers to the impact of globalization on the Mexican economy, including labor issues related to large factories.
Mexico New Democracy and Economy. Mexico Matters is a investment consulting firm which provides bilingual consulting services to potential investors links to service/product providers in Mexico.
Official site for the Mexican Government
Border Stories: a mosaic documentary on the U.S.-Mexico Border
AP interactive map: Mexican Drug Cartels
Library of Congress Guide to the Mexican War
NAFTA Secretariat website
NAFTA Now: Jointly developed by the Governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States
Vazquez Castille. Land Privatization in Mexico: Urbanization, Formation of Regions and Globalization in Ejidos. Routlege, 2004. Castille examines the local, regional, and global consequences related to land privatization in Mexico. Specifically, Castille highlights the impact of Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution, which regulated land in Mexico from the Revolution in 1910 until the constitutional reforms in 1992. The term Ejidos refers to the communal land granted to the landless following the 1910 Revolution.
Edmonds-Poli, Emily and David A. Shirk. Contemporary Mexican Politics. Rowman and Littlefiled Publishers, Inc., 2008. Edmonds-Poli and Shirk examine the contemporary political system surrounding Mexico’s democracy.
Weintraub, Sidney. NAFTA’s Impact on North America: The First Decade. Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2004. A comprehensive evaluation of NAFTA by specialists from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. A very informative study for those interested in the economic, trade, social, political, and security effects of NAFTA and possible consequences of other broad regional trade agreements.
Bowden, Charles. Down by the River: Drugs, Money, Murder, and Family. Simon and Schuster, 2004. In this book acclaimed author and journalist Bowden offers a riveting, very detailed look at the drug trade and international relations between Mexico and the United States. Bowden uses a 1995 drug-related murder case (the reputed hit man was 13 years old), the younger brother of a DEA agent, the subsequent investigation, and the lack of resolution that begins to tear the family apart. Bowden details how the deceitful and shady figures who head drug trafficking between Mexico and the U.S. operate with the full approval and active participation of government officials, both high and low, on both sides of the border, resulting in a startling level of corruption. Bowden provides a glimpse of these powerful interests, which place international commerce ahead of any efforts at enforcing U.S. drug laws. He also shows how those laws and the investigative forces meant to enforce them are more political imagery than reality. This book is recommended because it offers a glimpse into the complexity of the Mexican Drug War and the botched attempt at its eradication.
Poppa, Terrence E. Drug Lord: The Life & Death of a Mexican Kingpin-A True Story. Demand Publications, 1998. This book is based on interviews author and journalist Poppa conducted with former drug czar Pablo Acosta. In this book Poppa depicts the life of Acosta, born in abject poverty in Mexico, and how he became drug czar and how he launched his career by smuggling marijuana and heroin into the U.S., later adding cocaine, and forging an alliance with Colombian drug traders. At the peak, he may have controlled 60% of the coke trafficked into the U.S., according to Poppa. The author shows that Acosta consolidated his power by murdering rivals, corrupting local police and soldiers, distributing money to the poor and contributing generously to civic projects. Eventually, however, he became a coke addict; his iron entrepreneurial grip slipped; and he was tracked down and killed in 1987 by an international narcotic strike force. This book is a recommended must read because it gives an inside look at how drug trafficking really works in Mexico. Also, it is a startling revelation since this is set only miles from the Texas border. It also confirms the fact that drugs are easily smuggled into the United States at a staggering rate.
Rodriguez, Luis J. Always Running: La Vida Loca Gang Days in L.A. Touchstone, 2005. Rodriguez, Luis J. Always Running: La Vida Loca Gang Days in L.A. Touchstone, 2005. This award-winning and bestselling memoir about a young Chicano gang member Luis Rodriguez. Rodriguez by the age of 12 was a veteran of East L.A. gang warfare. He was lured by a seemingly invincible gang culture. At a very young age, he witnessed countless shootings, beatings, and arrests, then watched with increasing fear as drugs, murder, suicide, and senseless acts of street crime claimed friends and family members. Before long, Rodriguez successfully broke away from the gang life through education and his love for writing. As an adult he achieved great success as an award-winning poet. Ironically his own son fell subject to the gang life. Rodriguez hoped to save his child by telling his own story in Always Running. His memoirs investigate the motivations of gang life and warns against the death and destruction that inevitably claim its participants and their families and friends. This is a very heartbreaking, sad and vicious story. Always Running is however a very uplifting story. It is filled with hope, insight, and perhaps a lesson learned for all future generations.
Shannon, Elaine. Desperados Latin Drug Lords U.S. Lawmen and the War American Can’t Win. Penguin Books, 1989. This book is based on the torture-murder of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1985. In this book, News magazine veteran Shannon focuses on the DEA war in Mexico, before and after the murder of agent Kiki Camerena by drug lords. Shannon details the role of the U.S. government, which stresses positive moves and ignores negative ones when dealing with drug-producing countries. The author claims that the U.S. government has talked a lot about anti-drug fighting and drug trafficking, but has done very little to deal with the problem. Shannon reveals that Mexico's war on drugs has been thwarted with corruption, from street cops to high officials. She concludes that the only way to win the war is to end the demand in America for marijuana and cocaine. This book is highly recommended because it examines the story of DEA agent Kiki Camarena, the events revolving around his kidnapping and murder in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1985, and examines U. S. drug policy in the '70s and '80s, and reveals the frailty of our government’s "war on drugs."
A Day without a Mexican. Directed by Sergio Arau, 2004. This movie takes a burlesque look at the various effects on the (non-Latino, mostly White) Californians who remain when a “pink fog” surrounds California and Latinos disappear. Where the Latinos went is not as important as what happens as a result of their disappearance.
El Norte. Directed by Gregory Nava, 1983. In this movie, two Mayan Indian peasants leave their village in Guatemala and decide to go the United States after the army destroyed their village and killed their family. The teenagers receive help along the way from friends and humorous advice from a veteran immigrant on strategies for traveling through Mexico, making their way by truck, and into Los Angeles. The movie depicts the hardships the two teenagers go through as they make a new life as young, uneducated, and illegal immigrants.
Gun Running Across the Border. 9 March 2009. CBS. Ben Tracy reports how easy it is for drug cartels to obtain assault weapons such as AK-47’s and 50 caliber assault rifles which are bought legally in the U. S. from gun shops. These weapons are then smuggled into Mexico and used by the drug cartels. This is site is recommended in order to take a closer look at how drug cartels continue to get their hands on weapons and why it is important for the U. S. government to better regulate gun control.
U.S. Security Push in Mexico. 24 March 2009. CBS. Seth Doane reports the latest effort of the U. S. government to reinforce the border against further violence, which includes the deployment of 500 law enforcement agents to help secure the border and crackdown on the drug cartels. This is site is recommended in order to take a closer look at the seriousness of the situation and what to show our government’s attempt to fight the problem.
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