Crow’s Mexico Survey

Chapter 54

The Postwar Years A Country By Country Survey-Mexico

Revolution of 1910-1920

-Mainly lead by middle-class generals

-as soon as they assumed power they began to become conservative (typical of revolutions)

        -does conservative mean suppressive here?

-10 years of revolutionary govt & 3 presidents had been assassinated, govt. & church in opposition, economy was not growing, revolutionary party near splitting into smaller weaker groups

-1929 Party of the Mexican Revolution formed

        -transformed the presidency “beyond the stage of caudillism and became an institution that would survive no matter who was chosen as president” (722)

        -govt. & natl. economy completely controlled by PMR

        -Name changes: 1929-Partido Nacional Revolucionario, 1938-Partido de la Revolucion Mexicana (as it stabilized), 1946:Partido Revolucionario Institucional (“Mexico’s progress from revolution to stability to institutionalization is thus clearly marked, and parallels the move from political left to right.” (722))

        -outgoing presidents hand pick the successor

                        -takes place in a closed session “tapado”

        -“An open fight for the presidency would break the party into a dozen splinters, and that would be the end of tranquility in Mexico.” (722)

-some believe this system is what saved Mexico from having military dictatorial rule like so many other LA countries

-some say if another party were instated it would be somehow unpatriotic (weak and questionable) to those that died in the Revolution and “tantamount to undoing the Revolution” (722)

-Weaknesses of the govt.



        -Octavio Paz: “The Party, revolutionary in its origin, has now been converted into a mere administrative machine, which constitutes from this day forward an obstacle to the modern development of Mexico.” (723)

-Economically Mexico has done better than LA on the whole.  (not as limited to single-product as others, due to “good planning”

        -national product is low

        -political stability impressive

        -semicapitalist economy

        -2.6% population growth a problem, one of the highest in the world

        -heavily dependent on the tourist trade and foreign investments

        -low literacy

        -50% “have no faith in their govt.” (?)

-60s-70s industry & agriculture expanded faster than population

        – US companies establish factories & Mexicans invest at home

        -85% of capital investments are self-generated

        -Rockefeller Foundation helps close food gap with science research for better crops

        -at this point, little land left to distribute in Mexico

        -water supply, not sufficient

-Govt. presidential “pets”

        -president makes budget and makes decisions

        -legislature just passes president’s bills

        -“He has as much power as most Latin American dictators, but he has learned not to display it flagrantly or to use it unreasonably.” (724)

        -judiciary not confident or a proper balance to the executive power


        -Lazaro Cardena-“Tata”-1934-40-nationalized the oil industry, affirmed control of natural resources, distributed millions of acres of land to peasants (after this not much land left to distribute)-when was it distributed to multi-national corps and foreigners?

        -Miguel Aleman-1946-52-“the playboy president”-built airports, improved agricultural productivity, created the huge National University

        -Adolfo Ruiz Cortines-1952-58-US tourism impeded due to Korean War. (was third largest source of income for the country at that point) Overextended public works program, treasury empty, devaluated peso, constructed highways, began Mexican Rural Social Welfare Program to over 4,000 centers. Lots of new schools. “Mexico… was becoming educated, urbanized, industrialized at a rapid pace.” (726)

        -Adolfo Lopez Mateos-1958-64-changed the focus of land distribution program to individual landowners rather than to the ejidos  (?), National Museum of Anthropology

        -Gustavo Diaz Ordaz-1964-70-“epitomized Mexico’s present middle-of-the-road government” (727). Directed the suppression of 1968 Olympic Games

                        -Mexican character for background to that event:

-Octavio Paz saying Aztec past is violent, not colonialism (is Mexican pre-occupation with identity unique?)

-Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo adds to this tradition the wandering of lost souls like the legendary Mexican animas en pena” (729)

-Samuel Ramos’ Profile of Man and Culture in Mexico-machismo “The most striking aspect of Mexican character is distrust.” (730, quoting Ramos)

-Carlos Fuentes “concludes that Mexico is a country of slaves to a value system that is not really Mexican” (731) (conservative characteristic, church indoctrinization, etc.?) Death of Artemio Cruz shows the tragedy of Mexico recalling “lost youth, lost love, lost ideals, lost destiny” (731)

-Focus on schools (really? Incongruent with literacy rate etc. not like Cuba in that respect?)

-Luis Echeverria Alvarez-1970-76-represented progressive business interests, spoke of helping the poor, guerillas sprouting, govt. liquidated their leaders, investment capital leaving Mexico, recession in US meant exports effected, on the brink of abyss until new oil fields discovered in 1975, inflation in 76 rose to 27%, peso began long decline, employment at 50%, illegal crossing to US rises. Population rate adding to the problem. In his last few months wanted to allocate land to the poor to be viewed as helping them, next successor found the whole thing too much of a problem and cancelled it leaving the land in the hands of landowners and industrialists.

-Lopez Portilo-1976-82-Mexico in a severe depression. Birthrate declined from 3.5 to 2.6% but a huge problem. -Machismo & illegit families a prob (?) Found more oil fields and that helped econ. But Pemex is very inefficiently run, relations with US cooled around an incident where US retracted intent to buy Mexican oil.

-Immigration to US 741-742

-Miguel de la Madrid 1982-worse financial crisis in 50 years, foreign capital left, brain drain, September 19, 1985, Mexico City earthquake, diversified economy, less dependent on oil, established maquiiladores, increased foreign investments, had financial reserves again, US involves itself with Mexico’s foreign debt (746) made it seem like there were would be elections in 1988 but then he hand picked successor

-Carlos Salinas de Gortari-election was tumultuous because final tally was contested, street protests ensued, according to a poll Mexicans didn’t believe he was elected honestly (distrust)




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