Mexico is a Spanish Speaking Federal Republic in North America. It borders the Pacific Ocean on the west and south, on the north is the United States; on the east, it borders the Gulf of Mexico. Belize, Guatemala, and the Caribbean Sea borders Mexico on the Southeast. There are thirty one (31) federal districts and states in Mexico. It is the 14th largest country in the world with a population of 110 million people. The annual population growth is decreasing at a drastic rate, currently standing at 0.85%. Life expectancy is estimated at 75%., the mortality rate stand at 4.5% per 1000 people. Mexico City is the capital city of Mexico. The gross National product (GNP) stands at 760 billion dollars with an annual average growth of 5.8%.
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Economic Developments: Dependency Theory
Dependency theory is the notion that, there are wealthy nations or states and marginalized under developed states. Resources are moved from the poor, under developed nation, to wealthy developed nations to sustain the wealth states economic growth and maintain the wealth. A vicious circle develops making it hard for the underdeveloped country to be independent economically, leaving these countries with no choice but to allow foreign corporations to set up base in their cities. Jobs are created in the city but the average wages is very poor, with the product through the local labor siphoned off to the developed countries.
This leads to exploitation as the foreign corporations make huge profits at the expense of poor countries. According to the dependency theory, the development of the global north is directly proportional to the underdevelopment of Global South. Handelman, Howard (2006)
Just like other Latin American economies, economic development of Mexico has shown full relevancy of the dependency theory, focusing mainly on export of raw materials. The United States and European Nations and at the same time depending on these countries for capitals and consumer goods.
Attempt by some Mexico past leaders like Cárdenas, to create new directions in economic development didn’t yield much as there were no heavy industries in Mexico that could compete against the United States and Britain. Mexico remained dependent on these countries. The Mexican’s elite who controlled most of the countries export were actively involved in perpetuating Mexico dependency. This class originated from a dependent economy and as such they pursued their agenda by advocating for policies geared toward dependency from developed countries.
Another factor that made Mexico to be economically dependent was its geographical Location. Mexico is characterized with mountains, forest and deserts leaving only twelve percent of total land arable, besides there are no major rivers in Mexico. These factors inhibit transportation, making it very difficult for Mexico to develop and expand its economy.
However much Mexico wants to be industrialized and be self reliant, its economy will have to remain dependent on other countries like Unites state. Departure from this dependency will most likely cause Economic collapse as Mexico root are deeply planted in these countries economically.
Religion and politics
Roman Catholic is the most predominant religion in Mexico, though evangelical churches are expanding their membership at a dramatic rate. The Roman Catholic played a major role in the history of Mexico right from 1519 when the Spanish landed in Mexico in the company of Roman Catholic clergies. All territories were conquered by in the name of the crown and church. The Roman Catholic has since those days continued to play a big role in Mexico issues.
The state and the church in Mexico have since independence had bruised relationship as the government engaged in concerted effort to limit church’s influence on people, as the Roman Catholic owned and controlled most hospitals, schools, charitable organizations and owned huge tracts of lands.
Various legislations have been put forward by the Mexican government since 1840 to limit the power of church. Education system was secularized, payment of tithe was declared none civil obligation. By 1915, most of the institution had undergone secular reforms; the 1917 new constitution had 5 articles that directly affected the church and religion. One article forbade churches from involvement in primary and secondary education.
Another article gave the state full ownership of the church buildings while yet another mandated all religious activities and ceremonies to take place within the church compound only. The harshest article was what was known as article 130 which stated that the Roman Catholic Church lacked legal status. Religious marriages were declared illegal and the state legislature had the mandate to control the number of church and clergy to be put up within their state. The church ministers were banned from criticizing the law of the Mexico either in public or private and had no right whatsoever to associate for political purposes.
A bloody religious war took place from 1926 to 1929 in Mexico, as people rebelled against government control of Churches. As a result, many churches were ordered to close. The priests were required to marry for them to officiate mass. The administration of Manuel Avila Camacho in 1940 ended the state church conflict. A consensus was agreed and the government was able to tactfully enforce the constitutional articles and limit the church activities hence removing the competition from the church. The church was left to continue with rebuilding ecclesiastical structure.
Early 1980s, the Roman Catholic was up in arm again, this time challenging the constitution’s anticlerical requirements. The church demanded to be granted rights to active participation in National issues. The church spoke out on issues relating to bad governance like corruption. The Mexican bishop under the banner of Global Pastoral Plan was instrumental in pushing for critical government assessment. According to the Roman Catholic Church, democracy in Mexico only existed in theory. The ruling party, Institutional Revolution Party (PRI) had power monopoly, leading to frustration and apathy.
Judicial corruption was rampant and the public was under political control. The bishops assumed important roles in denouncing electoral malpractice, fraud within the states, and human rights violations. The church has continued to put emphasizes that its involvement in political activities does not equate with church participation in parties’ activities.
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By 1991, the church had managed to convince the government to remove constitutional restrictions imposed on the Roman Catholic, leaving the church to operate independently without state control.
Democracy and dictatorship
The Mexican constitution grant for a federal republic with power separation to independent arms of government i.e. Executive, judicial and legislative. The executive is the most dominant with a powerful president who disseminates and executes the law. The certain executive decree gives power to the president to legislate in financial and economic fields. Presidential elections are held every six years and a president can hold office for a maximum of one term. The constitution does not have any provision for a vice president. The opposition parties have made substantial gains since 1989 with several electoral reforms implemented.
The Mexican Congress is made up of the chambers of deputies and the senate. Senators are elected for one term of six-year, while the deputies serve for 3 years. There are 128 senators and 500 deputies, with 300 directly elected and 200 nominated proportionally to help small parties have access to the chamber.
There is two major division of the Judiciary; there are federal Courts and state courts. Major felonies and civil cases are handled by the Federal courts. The rest of the cases are handled by respective states courts. The president appoints the Supreme Court justices with the approval of the senate.
The July 2000 elections ended the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) 71 years hold on the presidency. In what was widely considered the fairest and freest election, Vicente Fox Quesada on National Action Party (PAN), was elected the president beginning his term on 1st December 2000 and completing it on 1st December 2006. He is credited for strengthening the political system of Mexico and ending one-party rule. Under his leadership, the executive became more transparent, accountable, and citizen friendly.
The 2006 election was a tight race between the leading two presidential candidates, Andres Manuel Lopez of democratic revolution Party (PRD) and Felipe Caldero of the National Action Party (PAN).Felipe Caldero won with less the 1% margin. Roberto Madrazo of PRI finished third. Caldero legitimacy as president was challenged by the PRD candidate leading to protest, as PRD convection declared that their candidate was the legitimate candidate. Federal Electoral Tribunal has since upheld the victory of Calderon.
The PAN has the largest number in the senate and the deputies’ chamber, taking 40% of seat in house pf congress. The rest of the seats are shared between PRI and PRD. The fact that PAN does not enjoy a legislative majority, make it hard for them to breach the constitution and rule of law, sending strong signals the Mexico democracy is on the right path.
Mexican has developed a National Identity through a unique positioning in the global arena and also through internal efforts toward homogeneity and unity. The complicated history of Mexico and relationship with imperialist explain the ongoing effort to achieve a conscious self identity.
Emphasis to bridge the cultural differences started after revolution back in 1920.The Columbian-India Culture was integrated in to National Imagery. Ideas that promoted homogeneity and unity were advocated. The opposition between Indians and Europeans gave rise to a fusion known as Mestizo, considered as real Mexican.
Despite the positive efforts to unite European and Indian culture to create National Identity, there is continued prejudice toward people of Indian origin. There is open racism in some provincial town where the indigenous people are most dominant. This has brought ethic tension which at time lead to armed rebellion in states like Chiapas.
Women and development
Mexican women have played an important role in Mexico economy since 1970s, making up to 35% percent of active populations involved in economic development. The 1980 economic crisis created a window for women to participate actively in economic development to supplement men effort. Educated Mexican women have since pursued career in all sectors of Mexico economy. Over 60% of women worker today are employed in tertiary economic sector, where wages are far much below than those of their male counter parts.
Mexican women have for long taken back seats in politics, but in the recent months, women especially wives of politicians at state and local ranks have broken rank with the deeply entrenched traditions and have started to follow their husband steps, campaigning to get into political office. One notable woman is the wife of Vicente Fox, former president, Marta Sagun. She had publicly declared her interest to run for higher office shortly. Another notable figure is Maria Del Carmen, wife of the governor of Tlaxcala State. The recent past has seen her battle for the presidential candidature of Democratic Revolution ally Party, a battle which she won in court.
In the state of Quintana Roo, the wife of the governor has once run for the mayoral seat for Cancun city. Marta Elena Garcia, a woman from the state of Nayarit, was firmly in the race for the 2006 presidential election with full support of the southerners who are mainly poor tobacco farmers.
The Mexican society has not fully appreciated the role of women in development and politics. The few women who are rising to play a bigger role in politics are met with stiff opposition from the male dominated society.
Mexico started embracing Globalization back in 1985 when the government started cutting trade tariffs and eliminating trade restrictions. Four years later in 1989, many foreign investment restrictions were removed and to cap it all, Mexico signed the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, thereby liberalizing the market.
Globalization in Mexico produced two results; The North was more exposed to the Global market than the south. In the north, the share of global trade tripled from 11 percent to 32 %, those Born in the Northern States did very well in term labor income. The southern Region had few industries and the region was not attracting foreign investment, income levels stagnated and in many cases it went down,labor earning also went down.
Some of the negative effects of globalization especially to the south were;
- Economic growth is at 1% only in the south. This is lower than what was attained in 1993 before the signing of the NAFTA.
- Salaries and Employment have gone down and to make matter worse for the common man, subsidies on basic commodities like bread and milk have been withdrawn
- Poverty level has increased as most of the wealth has been concentrated to few Mexicans.
- People are migrating at an alarming rate as they loose faith with their country. There is no future and most people feel their dream will come true only when they cross the border to United States. Money sent from United States by migrant account for over 10 billion dollars annually, making it the second highest source of foreign income.
- With Globalization, the government has no control over prices for most good. Cheaper imports are hurting the economy especially in Agriculture due to unfair competition.
- Foreign debts has increased to an all time high of 250 billion dollars, these figure continue to increase each year due to continued default on interest and loan payment by the federal government.
Revolutionary changes in Mexico
Mexican revolution was the most defining experience in Mexican history. It was a major arm struggle started by Francisco Madero uprising against Dictator Porfirio Diaz. Several movements took part in the revolution that culminated in the 1917 Mexican constitution. A large number of people were involved in the revolution and the political impacts were huge.
Diaz Era as the President of Mexico from1876 to 1911 was characterized by massive corruption. He changed the policy barring out going president from seeking re-election, standing for re-election in every election. Threat was the rule of the day and the army was used to a tool to bully citizen to vote for Diaz. He would rig himself to the presidency, detaining his political opponents. This use of force to stay in office saw him loose his popularity. Besides, he came with land reform which saw the exploitation of peasant farmer and land ownership was taken away from them. This necessitated power change, a rebellion was launched by leaders like Pancho Villa, Francisco Madero and Emiliano Zapata.
With full support of farmers and Indians, Madero led his army against Diaz government defeating the federal army, this culminated to the 1911 treaty of Ciudad Juarez, which required Diaz to hand over leadership to Madero.
Another uprising will follow later, this time pitting Zapata and Orozco, against Madero due to Madero failure to enact land reforms and his perceived weakness in leadership.Victoriano Huerta, commander in chief in Madero government took advantage of the situation to stage a coup, which eventually led to the resignation and execution of Madero and his vice president.
Huerta presidency was not recognized by many people, soon an uprising, pitting Huerta on one side and leaders such as Zapata, Caranza and Villa with the full backing of United States which had also refused to acknowledge Huerta as the president, on the other side. Huerta was forced to flee. Soon Venustiano Carranza was elected president of Mexico.
Different ideology between Villa and Caranza would soon lead to Villa breaking Rank with Caranza. Villa lead his army against Caranza by occupying Mexico City. Villa was very unpopular with the moderate generation hence he had no support of most Mexicans, he insisted on staging a battle against Caranza. On April 1915, one of the bloodiest battles in the history of Mexico revolution took place; it was called the Battle of Celaya. Carazza emerged the winner. He was recognized as the president of Mexico, with the full support of United States. He later formed what was known as Constitutional army, aimed at bringing all rebels together and to adopt their demands into the 1917 Mexico New Constitution. Some of the issues addressed by the 1917 constitution were; Ownership of resources, labor code, and the church role in land reforms and Education.
Social Ills, Social Problems and Health Issues
Drug trafficking in Mexico is a highly profitable illegal activity, which gives law enforcement agencies an intimidating challenges to protect the countries and the neighboring countries. Mexico is the largest drug supplier to the United States accounting for over 90% of cocaine trafficked to United States. Other countries use Mexico as conduit point for shipment of drugs like marijuana.
Drug trafficking is controlled by organized cartel operating from the border town. These cartels are a threat to the war against drug trafficking and most in cases wage violent wars against anyone trying to expose them. Mexico government spend a lot of money in the war against drugs, deploying over thirty thousand military troops to work with federal police in states like Guerrero, Michoacan, Chihuahua etc,where drug trafficking is most prevalent. Some powerful politicians and senior police officers are closely linked with drug trafficking, making Mexico war against drugs a tough battle.
In the recent past, Mexico has experience high crime rates. Polarization in economic is stimulating criminal activities in the in the middle and lower class. Most affected cities are Mexico City, Nuevo Laredo and Tijuana. The high crime rate is pouring into the United States.
Cases of children and women abuse are very rampant in. Poverty is the main contributor of children and women abuse, as they become an easier target by those undergoing economical frustration especially in the lower class. According to Child protection department, reported cases of child abuse are increasing at a record high of 30% annually. Cases of sexual abuse are very common in major towns where crime rates are high. The population of street family if growing at an alarming rate.
Mexico as a Nation has a long way to go if it is to be self reliant and uplift the life of its people, majority of whom are the Indigenous southerner. The continued dependency on United States and other European Nations only help in stabilizing Mexico economy. Mexico economy will mostly likely collapse if its trade partner, the United States and Europe were to cut economic ties, hence the need for establishment of policies aimed at creating a Home-Based Economy. This way, Mexico will offer the much needed employment to its people, reducing poverty, migration and all issues related to poverty.
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Handelman, Howard (2006) Sociology of Developing Countries, United States, Pearson publishers.
Joel Solomon (1999) Human rights and Economic Development in Mexico. Web.
Luis Pazos, the People and History of Mexico. Web.
Matthew Davis, Globalization and poverty in Mexico. Web.