Mexico was a member of the category of developing countries, which was characterized by the "third world" designation given to most of the poor world, which wasn't firmly aligned with the United States of America or the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Mexico was a one-party authoritarian regime.
The events of the 1980s and 1990s transformed Mexico's political and economic structures into a modern day example of democratic transition.
There are many reasons for cautious optimism in seeing Mexico as a model for others around the world, despite the fact that it is still navigating many of the problems of the developing world.
Mexico is an excellent example of the struggles involved with development and democratization.
The federal republic of Mexico is the result of two major revolutions.
The first established Mexico as an independent country from Spain in 1821, and the second removed a military dictator in 1911, beginning Mexico's transition to constitutional republicanism.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) came to control every aspect of the political process for most of the twentieth century as authoritarianism did not end in 1911.
The transition away from one-party authoritarianism to democracy began in the 1980s and 1990s.
Mexico has one of the most diverse climates in the world, with mountain ranges, deserts, beautiful coastal beaches, fertile valleys, high plains, and rain forests all packed into one country.
Many parts of the country are separated from one another by mountains and deserts, which can have a large impact on Mexican politics.
Mexico has a relatively small amount of arable farmland, making development after independence slow and difficult, but recently, natural resources with accessibility and uses in the modern world are being discovered.
These resources, like the silver discovered by Spanish colonial masters in the 1500s, are not for the most part bringing prosperity and development to the broad Mexican population, but are bringing tremendous wealth to a small elite at the top of society.
The United States is one of the most powerful countries in the world and Mexico is one of the most powerful countries in the world.
The length of the border is symbolic of the degree to which Mexican foreign policy concerns are directed toward the United States, compared to Mexico's other southern neighbors.
Mexicans are very unified by their political values and traditions.
In Mexico's major nineteenth- and twentieth-century revolutions, ordinary Mexicans stood up against powerful elites and charismatic leaders led popular movements to revolutionary victory.
Mexican culture celebrates the legacy of its revolutionary heroes.
Mexico has a long tradition of authoritarianism that goes back to Spanish colonial rule, through the military rulers of the nineteenth century, and up to the PRI bosses of the twentieth century.
The ability of strong men to wield extensive political powers is usually not checked by the acting chief executive.
Spanish colonization built society in Mexico with the Catholic mission as the center of daily life and political organization.
Most of Mexico's history was politically active by priests, except for a brief anti-Catholic backlash in the 1920s and 1930s.
Most Mexicans attend mass on a regular basis, and more than 80 percent of them identify as Catholic.
The regional divides of Mexican politics were brought together by a favor-trading system of quid pro quo, which benefited everyone at the top mutually.
The PRI's control of Mexico's political processes to hold on to the power and wealth of the state throughout the twentieth century has been the result of longstanding official corruption and authoritarianism.
Mexicans are united by their use of the Spanish language.
Many of the indigenous languages in southern Mexico are in danger of extinction despite the large indigenous minority.
Spanish is the official language of Mexico and is spoken by over 99 percent of the population.
The history of Mexico is broken into three distinct eras, each separated by a major revolution.
The system of patron-clientelism and authoritarianism were not altered by the changes to the regime.
The Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan was captured in 1519 by the first Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes.
Spanish soldiers who were not allowed to bring their European families to the New World quickly mixed with the native population, creating a new mestizo ethnicity of mixed European and native ancestry.
Mestizos make up over 60 percent of the population of Mexico, with Amerindians making up most of the rest.
The social structure of the Spanish was based on a rigid racial hierarchy.
The native population was forced to convert to Christianity by the Spanish.
Agricultural work and meals were organized at Spanish missions.
Mexico's effort to win independence from Spain began in 1810, but it didn't achieve full recongition of its status as an independent state until 1821.
The Spanish system became the focus of a revolution when a Spanish priest organized an army of poor indigenous farmers to fight against the Spanish army for the right to grow crops forbidden by the law.
Other Mexicans, especially criollos with limited opportunities in colonial society, joined the revolutionary fervor sweeping Latin America to overthrow colonial rule despite the fact that Hidalgo's army was defeated and scattered and he was executed.
Mexican politics became unstable after Spain recognized Mexican independence.
There was constant bloodshed from the fighting between rival camarillas, which were led by strongmen generals.
Presidents changed as often as the seasons, with vice presidents leading coups against presidents, and presidents leaving office to fight off rebellions in other parts of the country.
There were thirty-six different presidents.
One of them, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, assumed the presidency on ten different occasions, leaving office to engage in fighting somewhere only a few months into a term.
The United States seized huge amounts of Mexican territory in the north and west, including the annexation of Texas in 1845, after the Texas war for independence from Mexico.
Conservatives with land ownership and ties to European nobility battled liberals who wanted Mexico to move toward constitutional democracy.
Mexico's politics continued to be unstable despite both sides hoping for stability.
Conservatives seemed to win when Napoleon III of France invaded to place an heir to the throne as Emperor of Mexico, but he was overthrown by a liberal general who restored the Mexican Republic.
The period of instability known as the Porfiriato lasted until the reign of President Porfirio Diaz.
After losing the election for president in 1871, a general in Juarez's army plotted a rebellion against the government.
After overthrowing the government in 1876, he ran for president and promised to step down after free and fair elections.
He didn't fulfill his campaign promise of not being re-elected and was in charge of the country for thirty-five years.
The campaign slogan was changed to Sufragio efectivo, no reeleccion, which means "effective vote, no reelection", by underground political critics.
The Porfiriato had its supporters despite his broken promise.
The fighting among camarillas came to a close, and there wasn't another internal revolution until 1910-1911.
Diaz invited foreign investment to develop Mexican industry, particularly mining, because he centralized control over all decision making in the Mexican economy.
Massive economic growth came at a high cost.
Hundreds of thousands of peasants were dispossessed of their land to make room for major mining operations, and communal farming lands among indigenous groups in the south were seized, privatized into plots, and sold off to private owners.
Mexico's economic growth never trickled down to the average person.
The revolution in 1910-1911 was caused by inequality.
In 1910, calls to hold a new presidential election and remove Diaz from office sprang from two major groups: elites frustrated by their own inability to advance their interests in the regime; and ordinary, poor, displaced Mexicans frustrated with their station in life.
After he was forced to leave the presidency, popular opposition grew until he blocked efforts to hold the election.
The civil war between rival camarilla groups in Mexico began after Diaz's abdication.
The constitution of 1917 was drafted by the northern constitutionalists after the defeat of the generals in the south and north.
The creation of the Institutional Revolutionary Party was due to the desire of the revolutionary generals to end the violence after the constitution was passed.
The leaders of the revolution agreed to share power.
The first three presidents of Mexico were all generals.
While each president had a single six-year term, other former generals and revolutionary leaders held other major positions in the government.
After one term, each president would give power to the next leader.
While theoretically any candidate from other parties could compete for the presidency in elections as well, the giant umbrella of the PRI enclosed so many of the most influential leaders that the competition was meaningless.
The fighting among Mexico's caudillos was brought to an end by the party.
Mexico's history in the 20th century was characterized by the establishment of an authoritarian one-party rule by the PRI, followed by a gradual transition to democracy that culminated in the first opposition party victory in a presidential election in 2000.
The most interesting sexenio of the early PRI rule was that of Lazaro Cardenas, who was president from 1934 to 1940.
He was a general in the Revolution.
He wanted to build an independent power base of loyalty among the people, as opposed to his predecessors who mostly stayed in Mexico City.
The new powers of the state allowed them to acquire large tracts of land previously controlled by private owners and convert them into agricultural collectives.
The peasants did not gain full ownership rights of their plot, but they were redistributed from the land owners.
LABOR REFORM: Cardenas's administration encouraged the formation of peasant and workers' unions, and strictly enforced the eight-hour work day and other rights of workers.
Foreign businesses were forced to leave Mexico and their property was expropriated.
The creation of PEMEX, a state-owned oil company, was the most notable example of nationalization.
The policy of import substitution industrialization was used to fight the loss of foreign investment.
The government placed high tariffs on foreign products in order to encourage Mexicans to buy from domestic companies.
The left-wing policies of Cardenas were combined with an effort to concentrate power in the hands of the presidency.
Groups that represented the interests of peasants, labor, industry, the middle class, the military, and others were invited to meet with the president and policymakers to share their input, but only the preferred guests of the president would be invited.
The groups were left out of the negotiations because of their cooperative relationship with the government.
A new generation of leaders emerged after the president/generals who founded the PRI had finished their terms.
President Aleman put Mexico on a path of development through liberal reforms, including the encouragement of entrepreneurship and inviting foreign investment into Mexico once again.
The next few decades were characterized by presidents who continued moving economic policy back and forth between the left-wing model of Cardenas and the right-wing model of Aleman.
The old "dinosaurs" of the PRI's early generation were losing power to a new generation of educated, technical experts.
The PRI settled on a model of economic reform that involved private entrepreneurship, a limited role for the government, and privatization of nationalized industries.
The "Mexican Miracle" of the 1980s, in which Mexico's GDP grew substantially, was a result of these reforms.
High oil production and inflated oil prices caused most of the growth of the 1980s.
The collapse of oil prices in 1982 made it incredibly difficult for Mexico to repay the debts it had incurred to develop its national oil industry, and the debt became such a burden, Mexico was forced to ask for help from the International Monetary Fund.
The Mexican government agreed to a set of loans from the International Monetary Fund in exchange for the introduction of a structural adjustment program.
Mexico stopped running annual budget deficits due to structural adjustment.
Mexico had to privatize many state-owned companies to raise cash, cut its government spending substantially, and further open its borders to foreign competition and free trade.
The 1980s were a difficult decade for average Mexicans.
GDP grew by only 0.1 percent per year, while inflation averaged 100 percent per year.
The "lost decade" for Mexico was the 1980s.
Reductions in government spending, privatization of state-owned assets, and liberalization of trade policy are required when the International Monetary Fund imposes a structural adjustment program.
The PRI was able to maintain its hold on power through vote rigging and its corporatist hold on power networks across the country.
The results before the breakdown indicated that the left-wing opposition was winning, but once the computers were up and running again, Carlos Salinas de Gortari was declared the winner.
The former President admitted that the PRI had rigged the 1988 election and burned the ballots to hide the evidence.
Thanks to the stolen election, Salinas's administration lacked legitimacy from the beginning.
Salinas did manage some major reforms, including signing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Canada, despite domestic perception that his administration was one of the most corrupt in Mexico's history.
Salinas's administration has been accused of corruption due to the privatization of Telmex.
Carlos Slim Helu, a close friend of Salinas, was able to acquire a large number of Telmex shares without paying for them up front, but rather by paying installments every year on the revenue of the phone company.
The second richest man in the world is Carlos Slim Helu.
Pressures from angry Mexican citizens and international stakeholders like the United States pushed the government to create a truly independent election regulating body; the Federal Election Institute (IFE), which is today known as the National Electoral Institute (INE), was meant to ensure that the 1994 election would not carry International observers were allowed to watch the 1994 elections in Mexico.
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The assassination of the PRI candidate remains a mystery.
As foreign investors fled the country, the value of the peso fell against the dollar.
The 1994 election in Mexico was considered the most free and fair in the country's history, but the PRI candidate won because voters chose stability over the fear of what might happen if Mexico were governed by a party other than the PRI.
The PRI was defeated in a presidential election in 2000 by Vicente Fox of the National Action Party.
The election showed that the opposition could win in the new system.
The PRI has reinvented its message and appeal to regain a prominent place in Mexican politics despite being heralded as the nail in the coffin by many.
Mexico is trying to build a democratic and pluralist political culture after a long history of authoritarianism.
Mexico has made observable progress in building a political culture in which citizen input is more significant to political outcomes.
The majority of the population of Mexico live in cities.
The last few decades have seen a huge wave of migration away from the countryside to the cities.
In Mexico, the best job opportunities are in cities, which is related to industrialization and modernization.
As a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement, international firms located factories in the north of Mexico to take advantage of low-wage Mexican labor, exporting to the American market just across the border.
Rural Mexicans have a lower literacy rate than urban Mexicans.
They show different voting behaviors.
Recent elections show that rural voters are more willing to support the PRI, while urban voters are more likely to vote for the opposition to the right and left.
Rural voters seem more concerned with short term gain, and the ability of PRI candidates to curry favors from the patron-client network seems to convince rural voters to stay loyal to the party.
Even if a candidate can't bring federal dollars to their city, urban voters are more likely to support reforms to remove the power base of the PRI.
Many urban voters turned to the PRI in 2012 and these trends are changing.
Rural voters are the base of support for the PRI.
Mexico is a divided country.
Mexican political culture is largely unified by a strong national identity, shared language, and common religion.
Mexico has one of the highest Gini coefficients in the world for a country with a large population.
The top 10 percent of Mexico's population earn more than the bottom 10 percent on average.
In the 1990s, new job opportunities for multinational firms in the north and border area had little effect on growth or employment in central or southern Mexico.
As small entrepreneurial ventures are driving most of the growth, inequality has declined.
More than 30 percent of Mexicans live on less than $5 per day, despite a GDP of over $10,000.
About 65 percent of Mexicans identify as Mestizo, 17 percent as Amerindian, and 16 percent as predominantly white or European.
Most wealth and political power in Mexico is held by Mestizos, who live in all parts of the country.
The southern part of the country is home to many indigenous descendants who still speak indigenous languages, as well as Spanish.
The Amerindian population is poorer on average than other groups, and often feels neglected and isolated from policymakers who are mostly Mestizo.
The ongoing troubles with the EZLN Zapatista Movement, an armed resistance group that has periodically establishedautonomous municipalities in the south consistent with the left-wing ambitions of the group, is indicative of this.
The Mestizos live in more prosperous cities in the north, while the Amerindians live in poorer rural communities in the south.
The minority group in the south, the Amerindians, are more susceptible to political conflict between the groups because of the coincideing nature of the cleavages.
Growing prosperity in Mexico over the last three decades and the transition from authoritarianism to democracy and from state corporatism to pluralism are helping to expand the opportunities for political participation in the country.
The networks of support from the generals who established the PRI were the basis of patron-clientelism.
The labor, peasants, and middle-class business categories were organized by the PRI.
The government would allow these groups to voice their concerns if they never challenged the PRI.
During the one-party rule of the PRI, Mexico was clearly a corporatist system, but it has transitioned to an increasingly pluralist system during its democratic transition.
There were cracks in the system early on, as many groups outside the PRI's umbrella still publicly voiced frustration with the PRI, but relatively few Mexicans were involved in civil society until later in the twentieth century.
The National Action Party was founded in 1939 by a group of businessmen opposed to the massive expansion of the state into economic matters.
In the late twentieth century, Mexico's civil society system became more pluralistic, with citizens free to join groups and pursue political, charitable, religious, and recreational causes without being restricted by the state.
By 2008 there were over 10,000 civil society organizations in Mexico.
25 percent of these organizations are religious in nature, which is evidence of the central role the Catholic Church continues to play in the country.
During the authoritarian period and the modern transitional period, protests have been a feature of Mexican political participation.
Before Mexico hosted the 1968 Summer Olympics, farmers and workers unions staged a number of highly visible rallies to protest the government's lack of attention to their plight.
The Mexican government spent $150 million on preparations for the games, and the farmers and workers believed their needs were being ignored.
Many of the leaders of the independent unions were arrested by the government as it was determined to carry out the games without incident.
As these events unfolded, more and more student groups around the country joined to take action against the PRI's oppression, and the opposition was taking the shape of a social movement that could undermine the PRI's hold on power.
On October 2, 1968, over 10,000 students gathered in Tlateloco Plaza to listen to speeches.
The Mexican government sent thousands of troops to surround the gathering.
The death of 30 to 300 students at the hands of the soldiers was followed by the arrest of more than 1,200 students.
The Mexican state media initially reported that armed provocateurs started a firefight with the government's forces, who fired back in self-defense, but reports and records released in 2001 prove that the provocateurs were members of the Presidential Guard.
The 2006 election was the closest in Mexico's history, with the PAN candidate Felipe Calderon defeating the PRD candidate by just over half a million votes.
Obrador accused the PAN of rigging the vote and demanded a hand recount after delivering 900 pages of supposed evidence.
Obrador staged rallies in Mexico City to protest the results, with the crowds estimated between 500,000 and 3,000,000 over the course of forty-seven days occupying the center of the city.
International election observers affirmed the general fairness and accuracy of the election result after the Tribunal ordered a partial recount.
Obrador threatened to use his crowds to prevent the "imposition of Calderon" upon the people, but was unable to mount enough of a crowd to disrupt the inauguration.
Many Mexicans believed that Televisa slanted its coverage in favor of the PRI in the 2012 election.
A protest that resulted in the death of some of the participants was ordered by the governor of Mexico.
A group of students came to a campaign rally for the president of Mexico to protest, but Televisa and the candidate characterized the disruption as the work of radical activists, not ordinary students.
131 students who attended the event posted a video on the Internet with their student IDs.
Millions of Mexicans joined in street protests against the PRI and perceived media bias after the video went viral.
Yo Soy #132 is the first time that social media has played a major role in the organization of a protest movement in Mexico.
Mexico's democratic transition has involved the creation of a few new institutions, but has mainly occurred by the reform of existing institutions.
Mexico's election system has developed into a three-party system with the PAN on the right, the PRI in the relative center, and the PRD on the left of the ideological spectrum.
In the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution, competing caudillos sought to unite their rule and share power rather than continue with the bloodshed and instability that had characterized politics in the early twentieth century.
It was the longest continuous rule for a political party in the world.
Its longevity can be attributed to its favorable media relationships, a patron-client network that did favors for local residents, and fraud in some elections.
In exchange for a vote for the PRI, the PRI would provide free entertainment and food at its election-day events around the world.
The PRI continued to rule most of the states after it lost the presidency in 2000.
In 2009, the national legislature was regained by the PRI, and in 2012 they regained the presidency.