Mexico: pt. I i. Mexico in the Latin American Context

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  • I. Mexico in the Latin American Context

  • II. The Emergence of the PRI (1876-1940)

  • III. The PRI & The Mexican “Miracle” (1940-82)

  • IV. The End of an Era (1982-88)

I. Mexico in the Latin American Context

  • A. Latin American trends in the 20th century:

  • political instability

  • visible military role in politics

  • erratic economic growth

  • B. Mexican exceptionalism:

  • no coup in 70+ years

  • low military involvement in politics

  • steady (6%) growth during 1941-81

  • 1-party rule for 71 years

  • C. Questions from a Comparative View:

  • What drove Mexican exceptionalism?

  • Will Mexico maintain its exceptionalism after the PRI’s defeat in the 2000 elections? Why or why not?

II. The Emergence of the PRI (1876-1940)

  • A. The Porfiriato (1876-1911):

  • authoritarian modernization under Díaz

(GDP growth rate 2x population growth rate)

  • BUT,

  • middle class out of politics

  • more landless peasants than ever before

  • B. The Mexican Revolution (1911-1917)

  • 2 revolutions fought simultaneously

  • POLITICAL: “no reelection” (Francisco Madero)

  • SOCIAL: “land for all”
    (Emiliano Zapata)

  • social, not socialist
  • Constitution of 1917:


  • U.S. system w/o reelection & w/ strong president


  • land reform

  • labor laws

  • government ownership of natural resources

II. (cont.)

  • C. The Rise of Plutarco Calles (1917-34)

  • More generals become presidents:

  • Venustiano Carranza (1917-20)

  • Murdered in 1920
  • Alvaro Obregón (1920-24)

  • Murdered after his reelection in 1928
  • Plutarco Calles (1924-28)

  • PNR established in 1929:

  • elite party w/ Calles as “jefe máximo

  • effort to avoid future assassinations & strife

(incl. militia)


  • land reform

  • wage hikes & union rights

  • social services

  • nationalization of oil & railroads

  • MASS PARTY created:

  • PNR becomes PRM w/ CNC, CTM, military, & “popular” branches

  • w/ diverse support & conflicting policy priorities
  • PRESIDENT rules, uses dedazo to pick successor, & steps down

III. The PRI & The Mexican “Miracle” (1940-82)


  • inclusive cooptation

  • selective coercion


  • camarillas (factions) compete w/in PRI

  • favor-trading is key


  • president can remove governors

  • and informally enjoys ability to remove judges

  • has a large majority w/in a weak legislature

  • approves all PRI candidates at all levels


  • if you stay in, you'll get your shot...


  • state control over key resources & sectors along w/ protection led ISI successes:

  • 6% average annual GDP growth for 40 years

  • low inflation during 1941-1970

  • NEGATIVE SIDE of Mexican “miracle”:

  • rising inequality & continuing absolute poverty

IV. The End of an Era (1982-1988)

  • A. The Debt Crisis:
    On 8/13/82 Mexico announces it cannot make current payments due on its debt

  • OPEC price hike of 1978-79

slowdown of major economies

flow of money into banks (petrodollars)
loans shopped to developing countries
  • loans to oil exporters to exploit windfall
  • loans to net importers to cover higher oil costs
  • When oil prices fall in 1982 and world interest rates on adjustable loans, Mexico & other debtor countries are in trouble

  • B. Role of Conditionality: from Austerity to Structural Adjustment

New loans from IMF & World Bank tied to policy changes reducing public spending (austerity) & opening the economy (structural adjustment)

  • new private loans were seen as more likely upon the approval of IMF & World Bank loans

  • new investment might follow
  • loans provide NEW $ for government
  • to promote growth, fund more selective social programs, & reward supporters
  • C. Intra-PRI conflict amid shift to market:

  • changes balance of power from machine “políticos” to bureaucratic “técnicos” as the pendulum stops

  • Aug. 1986: center-left faction of PRI forms ¨Democratic Current¨ to push party away from free market

  • De la Madrid makes it clear that he will name another market-oriented technocrat

  • Oct. 1987: the Democratic Current leaves the PRI

  • Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas & the FDN coalition form viable challenge in controversial 1988 election

  • official PRI victory (50.7% v. 31.1%) amid major scandal & doubt
  • PRI did admit Senate losses and took only 52% of the lower house seats

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