The oldest agricultural communities in Latin America have existed in Mexico since 7000 BC. From 1000 BC the olmec culture emphasized itself with a highly developed architecture in central parts of the country. Other civilized cultures were Maya in the Yucatán Peninsula (100-1500 AD), Zapotek (300–900) and Mixtek (1000–1500) in Oaxaca, totonac (600–900), Toltec (900–1200) and Aztec (1300). -1521).
The cultures of Mexico testify to a high level of civilization, both in the sciences and social structure, before the first Europeans arrived. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Mexico.
The colonial period (1519–1821)
The population was about 15 million when the Spanish campaign led by Hernán Cortés made his way to the Aztec ruler Moteczoma and his power center in Tenochtitlán, the current capital of Mexico City, in 1519.
The Spaniards were able in a short time to seize power over the Aztec War with violent practices, missionary activities and a feudal system that forced the population to serve the Spaniards. A large number of people died as a result of epidemic diseases brought by the Spaniards. Mexico served as a base for further conquests both north and south. Rich deposits of gold and silver provided extensive mining activity in the northern areas where the local population served as slaves. The church and the established nobility soon had complete control over agriculture in the form of large goods (haciendas).
Mexico also served as a link in the trade between Pacific property Philippines and the mother country. Towards the end of the 18th century, much of the present United States was part of the Spanish colony.
Pastor Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla is considered the founder of the rebellion against the Spanish crown and as leader of the first Mexican revolution, 1810-11. Spain’s problems in Europe weakened the country as a colonial power, and Mexico and Central America declared themselves independent in one union. Military officer Agustín de Itúrbide declared himself Emperor of Mexico in 1822, but was deposed already the following year. The union with Central America was dissolved the same year, and in 1824 Mexico passed a constitution granting it the status of a federal republic.
Authoritarian General Antonio López de Santa Anna dominated for more than thirty years. He was president five times, but also had real power in the intervening periods. Mexico had already left Louisiana and Florida to France and the United States before independence. In 1835, López de Santa Anna discontinued the federal system, and the following year Texas demanded independence. Texas was annexed by the United States in 1845, and the war between Mexico and the United States (1846-47) ended with Mexico renouncing New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah and California. to the United States for a $ 15 million compensation.
As a result, Mexico’s territory was halved, even though only about one percent of the population lived in the remote areas.
From 1855, Zapotek Native American Benito Juárez led a liberal reform movement in response to political incompetence and the privileges of the Catholic Church. The civil war between the liberals and conservatives (1858–60) ended with victory for the liberals, and Juárez became president.
Due to the economic chaos in the country, Juárez suspended all payments of Mexico’s foreign debt. The main creditors – Spain, France and the United Kingdom – responded by sending troops to the country in 1862. The French troops advanced far into the country, but suffered a stinging defeat at Puebla. The following year, however, they returned with reinforcements and occupied Mexico City. The French installed habsburg rule in Mexico by appointing Archduke Maximilian of Austria as emperor. When the French troops were withdrawn in 1867, Maximilian was executed, and Juárez became president again until his death in 1872.
During this period, the United States was preoccupied with its own civil war and did not intervene in the conflict. Political stability was achieved under the authoritarian general Porfirio Díaz, who ruled the country, mostly as president, for 35 years (1877-1911). Foreign capital was welcomed, leading above all to the construction of railways and the establishment of new mines. Oil exploration was started, plantation and industry increased, and the banking system became more efficient. It was the powerful in Mexico who reaped the benefits of this policy, while the vast majority experienced increased poverty as day laborers and landless peasants.
In 1910, the impatience with Díaz’s rule led to a riot that soon sparked a bloody civil war. The Mexican Revolution under the leadership of Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa has remained one of the most significant events in the history of Latin America. Until 1916, Mexico was without organized governance and was completely characterized by the war between the established community and poor farmers who demanded property rights.
The new Constitution of 1917 is still the mainstay of Mexican politics. With this, extensive land reform was implemented and the country’s natural resources were nationalized. Labor laws, social legislation and state duty to provide education were passed. The church lost much of its position of power. The National Revolutionary Party was founded in 1929 and in 1946 changed its name to the Institutionalized Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI). The party has long dominated Mexico’s politics.
The revolutionary constitution was reflected in practical reforms under President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-40). The estates were divided into small units and left to the small farmers, even though the land still officially belonged to the state. Railways and oil deposits were nationalized, and both industrial and agricultural workers organized on a large scale during the 1930s.
The stability of Mexican politics that the Revolutionary Party stood for developed a political elite that eventually distanced itself far from PRI’s electoral rhetoric – the Native American legacy tied to agriculture. Instead, governments have focused more on industry and urban communities, for the benefit of the middle class. The rich oil deposits have become Mexico’s most important source of income. Admittedly, large sums of money were invested in agricultural development in the 1950s and 1960s, without hindering the increasing urbanization.
More than half of Mexico’s population lives in cities, and the capital of Mexico City is today among the world’s largest cities in terms of population. In rural areas, poverty still dominates. The difference between rich and poor in Mexico is among the most extreme in the world, and the ruling elite is constantly accused of corruption.
Compared to other Latin American countries, Mexico has a very modest military apparatus, but the army and police have often been in action to fight back Earth occupiers and student riots. With its oil riches, Mexico has focused on an independent foreign policy course, especially from the early 1970s. This is especially true of the relationship with the United States. President José López Portillo (1976–82) supported the revolution in Nicaragua, and Mexico was the only country in Latin America, except Cuba and Nicaragua, to recognize the guerrillas in El Salvador.
The promising oil economy during López Portillo’s presidential term led to huge investments based on international loans. When both oil prices and production fell in the early 1980s, Mexico was in the process of accumulating a very high foreign debt. The financial crisis in 1982 led Mexico to nationalize the banks, and uncontrolled inflation increased. President Miguel de la Madrid (1982–88) faced tough demands from creditors to pay off the huge foreign debt which, during his reign, amounted to over $ 100 billion. Mexico received support from the United States in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, since the neighbor in the north was interested in curbing both immigration and drug smuggling. The powerful earthquake that hit the capital in 1985 did not make the economic situation any better.
Despite widespread electoral fraud, PRI dominance began to weaken in the 1980s. Carlos Salinas de Gortari’s 1988 electoral victory gave the PRI the narrowest margin so far. The foremost challenger, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD), was considered by a total opposition to be the victim of electoral fraud. Salinas started off with economic reform and modernization, with the intention of creating better conditions for private investment. The ambition was to bring Mexico into the ranks of the rich and industrialized countries.
With good results, Salinas emerged as a visionary president who had found the miracle cure for the country’s troubled economy. A new currency system was introduced, inflation was brought under control, heavily-rooted state-owned enterprises were privatized and a lot of jobs were created with the creation of free trade zones. In 1993, Mexico, together with the United States and Canada, signed the North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA.
At the beginning of 1994, the southernmost and poorest state of Chiapas became the site of a surprising revolt among local Indians who called themselves Zapatista’s National Liberation Army, EZLN (named after Emiliano Zapata). Masked members of the EZLN kept public buildings in Chiapas occupied and threatened with armed struggle unless the authorities recognized the rights of Indians and implemented a social policy in favor of poor Native American peasants.
During the period 1994-97, several rounds of negotiations were held, and the government had to grant cultural, social and economic rights to the Native American population in Mexico. But after the government vetoed a peace treaty in 1995, which it had negotiated with the Zapatists, the San Andrés agreement, the fronts hardened again. Clashes between soldiers and supporters of the Zapatists have taken place on a regular basis, but the Zapatists themselves have kept a low military profile.
Attacks and scandals
During the Chiapas uprising, the election campaign began, and Salinas had appointed Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta as his successor to the presidential office. However, Colosio was murdered while running an election campaign. The investigation into the murder revealed little, but suspicion arose that there was a dramatic internal struggle in PRI. Colosios’ campaign manager, Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Léon, was appointed a new candidate, an unknown and little charismatic representative for the modernization of PRI.
The August 1994 presidential election is considered one of the fairest in Mexico’s history, and Zedillo defeated Cárdenas of the PRD with just under 50 percent of the vote. Just a month after the election, Mexico was shaken by yet another political assassination, this time by PRI Secretary General José Francisco Ruíz Massieu, who was one of Zedillo’s most important staff. Scandals and a serious crisis between the older conservative garden (the “dinosaurs”) and the modern wing of the PRI put a strain on Salinas’ last months as president.
The internal crisis in PRI escalated when President Salinas’ brother, Raúl Salinas de Gortari, was arrested in February 1995 as an accomplice in the murder of Ruíz Massieu. In addition, it was revealed that Rául Salinas had private bank accounts in Switzerland and the UK of about $ 100 million. In a widely publicized case, in 1999, Raul Salinas was sentenced to 50 years in prison for complicity in the murder of PRI’s secretary general. It emerged during the trial that the family of President Salinas had both political and personal motives for the killing.
Corruption has not been uncommon in Mexican politics, but it became clear that in Salinas’s government, it was very comprehensive, with political murders and most likely cocaine smuggling. Salinas traveled in exile after leaving the presidential office to Zedillo; prosecutors apparently prefer that he remain in exile to avoid an embarrassing trial. The United States has also criticized Mexico for being uncooperative in its efforts to crack organized cocaine trafficking, which has ramifications far into the established political elite. Money laundering of illegal cocaine sales has probably helped to curb the economic crisis in the country.
New economic crisis
Just before Christmas 1994, Zedillo’s government decided to allow the value of the peso to flow in relation to the dollar. The result was a devaluation of 60 percent over two weeks. As a NAFTA partner, the United States decided to intervene in the Mexican economy, and a $ 50 billion crisis package was offered by the United States and the IMF in an effort to stabilize Mexico’s economy and prevent capital flight. The condition was that Mexico introduced a crisis plan with a drastic reduction in government spending.
The dramatic crisis in Mexico’s economy had profound consequences, including for other Latin American countries. During 1995, persistent attempts were made to prevent economic stagnation, further inflation and social unrest. With drastic measures, the government was able to reduce the effects of the crisis and create new growth in the economy.
During 1996, three new guerrilla groups emerged in the states of Guerrero and Tabasco. While other Latin American countries on par with Mexico were able to dismantle their authoritarian political systems and accelerate economic development, Mexico for a few years went in the opposite direction with economic decline and the tendency of political violence and organized crime. Zedillo’s government was able to achieve financial stability to some extent, and the crisis loan was repaid to the United States in early 1997, before the deadline. In this way, Mexico wanted to convince the United States that the country is a serious partner in NAFTA cooperation.
The 1997 congressional election was a victory for the opposition and another marked setback for the previously so dominant PRI. The candidate from the leftist PRD won the governorship election in Mexico City. The opposition also won a majority in the House of Representatives. The presidential election in the summer of 2000 confirmed the turning point in the country’s history. Vicente Fox Quesada of the Conservative PAN party (Partido Acción Nacional) won the election with 42.5 percent of the vote ahead of PRI candidate Francisco Labastida, who got 36 percent. PRI’s 71 consecutive years in power were thus over. The former Coca-Cola- Director Fox, who with the power base of the young and well-educated middle class in the big cities, won on promises of fight against corruption and abuse of power, restructuring of economic policy and increased inner self-government for the Native American indigenous people.
However, the pace of reform turned out to be lower than expected. The Fox government had to seek compromises in the National Assembly, where PAN did not have a majority. Another reason was, in many people’s opinion, political power in general, and the counter-forces in society were strong. Economic growth was good throughout the new century, with the character “consolidated” and listed as the world’s 9th largest economy in 2004. Many got better – but the poverty gap increased.
After five years with Fox, around 60 percent of the population still lived below the poverty line. Violations of human rights also constituted a persistent problem. The settlement of the past’s “dirty war” against revolutionary movements started, but the judicial process took time. The drug barons faced a tougher line, but new wave of killings cast doubt on the effectiveness of the measures. In parliamentary elections and in local elections from 2003 onwards, President Fox’s PAN party had to take note of declining support, while PRI gained new wind in the sails. So did the leftist PRD with its strong frontline and presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
In the 2006 presidential election, PAN renewed its mandate, but only 0.57 percent of the vote separated Vicente Fox’s successor, Felipe Calderon, from PRD challenger Obrador; PRI candidate Roberto Madrazo of the old power elite failed to profit from the discontent with PAN.
The election results triggered mass demonstrations with allegations of cheating and demands for a new count, while Obrador inaugurated himself as president of a “shadow government”. The constitutional presidential appointment had to be moved from the National Assembly to the Presidential Palace for security reasons. One of the biggest demonstrations in the country’s history took place prior to the election, following a push to halt Obrador’s candidacy based on a trifling rule breach. If the margin was scarce, however, Mexico went counter-current in the left wave that changed the political color of several countries in Latin America. The election also reinforced the image of a politically polarized Mexico.
Calderon’s program entailed an increased element of privatization and deregulation, in line with IMF recommendations. The overall positive trend in the economy continued, including five-fold exports in ten years and a growing proportion of the population moving from poverty to lower middle class. Low productivity, uneven distribution and corruption were still among the biggest problems. The first mass demonstrations against Calderon were linked to the so-called Tortilla crisis in 2006, when the price of corn tripled. Corn is the main ingredient both in national tortilla and in America’s grand plans to replace gasoline and diesel with bioethanol; The crisis triggered a series of price increases on other foods as well. The government’s own controversial energy policy reform package in 2008, caused by a fall in oil production, opened up, among other things, to the partial privatization of state-owned oil company Pemex.
A new, powerful offensive against the drug cartels, in which an army of around 25,000 men reinforced the police, immediately resulted in a fall in illegal exports to the United States and a jump in the president’s popularity. This is despite growing international criticism for the use of torture and violations of the legal principles of the drug war, which claimed more than 12,000 lives during the first three years of Calderon’s reign.
The election to a new National Assembly in July 2009 made the PRI the largest party group, with correspondingly reduced leeway for the president and his PAN party. The decisive factor in the election was the financial crisis, which immediately hit stronger in Mexico than most other Latin American countries due to the large trade with the United States. Hundreds of thousands lost jobs in the first half of 2009, and projections for the economy showed negative growth (deflation) of over 6 percent. The crisis was compounded by the swine flu, a pandemic with a crippling effect on social life.
Under President George W. Bush, the United States upgraded its relationship with Mexico and the rest of Latin America. President Fox backed the United States in the terrorist campaign, but opposed the Iraq war, prompting dissatisfaction in Washington.
The most relevant bilateral issue is the border between the two countries, where over a million Mexicans are arrested each year. Hundreds of thousands succeed in getting through, hoping for a better future. In 2006, the United States launched plans to build an 1125-kilometer wall along the Arizona, New Mexico, California and Texas border – to the condemnation of Latin American countries. The wall was completed in 2010, with a price tag of $ 2.4 billion. The trend seems to be to extend and strengthen the wall, as well as to invest in advanced border technology. For the United States, the share of Latin American refugees has dropped significantly.
The money that the roughly 14 million eco-Mexicans send home is Mexico’s second most important source of income after the oil. Mexico has hosted the United Nations and the WTO – and, like other major Latin American nations, is seeking to play a more active role internationally.