“We won”, [Vicente Fox] said simply, and his eyes filled with tears.”’ (Preston, J. Dillon, S., 2004, p. 26) The event that took place on July 2, 2000, was an emotional day to remember not only for Mexico’s National Action Party (PAN), but also for the citizens of Mexico who wanted to see a change in their government. It took seventy-one years to pry open the semi-authoritarian hegemony of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the PAN party did just that, winning the presidential election in the summer of 2000. This paper will address the events that lead up to this extraordinary Mexican election event in 2000. Thus leads to this paper’s opinion: Mexico is coasting toward being a failed state if the government loses control of its accountability and the rule of law due to decades of entrenched corruption, born out of the one-party rule of the PRI.
If one looks at the early history of Mexico, democracy is not part of its political history. The roots of Mexico’s national identity recedes way before the arrival of Spanish Explorer Hernan Cortez in 1519. The land was inhabited by indigenous people such as the peaceful Mayans, whom lived in and around the Gulf Coast area. They were noted for their advancement in farming, artistry, mathematics and astronomy. (history.com, 2013) Unlike Mayans, the Aztecs were more authoritarian. They resided in the central fertile valley of Mexico and built their capital city on marsh land near a lake called Tenochtitlan (Mexico City). The Aztecs ruled other tribes and established an empire with city-state governors, tax collectors, courts, and ruling ‘military-religious’ castes. In comparison between the Mexico’s modern regime and Aztec rule: “both forged a centralized, authoritarian, hierarchical, stable system.” (Levy, Bruhn, 2001, p.36) )
In 1519, Diego Velasquez, a Spanish conquistador, sent Hernando Cortez to Mexico to conquer territories in the ‘New Spain’ for the Spanish Crown. (westmeade.net, 2013) In March of that year, Cortez landed in Tabasco, where he learned about the great Aztec society ruled by Mocteruma (Spanish), [aka Montezuma (English)] from the natives of Tabasco. In November 1519, Cortez marched in to Tenochtitlan with his army of men and weaponry ready to do battle. Instead, Cortez and his army were warmly welcomed by Mocteruma. Cortez was ironically mistaken for the Aztec’s religious belief “white gods would one day appear”. (Levy, Bruhn, 2001, p.37).
Although Cortez was outnumber by the Aztecs, Cortez weaponry was superior and Mocteruma was subsequently confined, and through him, Cortez began to ruled the empire. When Mocteruma died, his young nephew, the defiant Cuauhtemoc became the next emperor. He eventually drove the Spaniards out of the city. Cortez reorganized and later returned with Aztec’s native rivals and erased all the city’s structures and the remaining Aztec populace, approximately 240,000 were believed murdered. Afterward, a new city (Mexico City) was built over the devastation and eventually became the main center for the new world. (Levy, Bruhn, 2001.p36-.37) (history.com, 2013) (Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p.475-476)
Unlike Colonial English settlers, the Spanish conquerors assimilated with the Indian natives in order to impose Spanish values, religion ( Catholic), and privileges. The English settlers were looking for freedom from the tentacles of England; therefore, they pushed aside or at times killed the nomadic tribes in order to establish themselves and germinate a democratic development in the newly undeveloped North America. In contrast, the Spanish fought a well established society, not “nomadic” tribes. (Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p. 476) The Spaniards integrated a hierarchy system. The top of the hierarchy system held the native Spaniards ( born in Spain), called peninsulares or gachupines, most of whom came from titled families and held the highest ranking posts in both the government and the clergy. Second, the creoles, (people born in Spanish America from Native Spanish parents) and mestizo (mixed offspring), people born from Spanish American and Native Indians. Last, were the indigenous (native Indians) populace, who eventually succumbed into indentured servants to the Spaniards. (Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p. 476)
The Spanish colonies’ resources, such as gold and silver, were siphoned to enrich only Mother Spain, thus prohibiting free trade. While at the same time, little was done politically and/or economically to the new colonies, as an example when the Spanish settlers carved out large estates (Spanish haciendas) at the “expense of the traditional communal land holders”. ( Levey, Bruhn, 2001, p. 38) The English settlers establish self-government prior to the Revolutionary War, where the self-government in the Spanish colonies lacked. (Hauss, 2012, p.476) The Spanish colonialism did not support nor encourage equality, democracy, or national independence. Mother Spain and the church became the guarantors of elitist authoritarian rule that ensured political stability during the colony era. (Levy, Bruhn, 2001, p.38) (Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p.476)
“Every colony that is well treated honours its parent state, but becomes estranged from it by injustice. For colonists are not sent forth on the understanding that they are to be slaves of those who remain behind, but that they are to be their equals.” ~ Thucydides, “Causes of the War,” (Bazant, J., 1977, p.5) Revolutions that took place in Mexico’s history, usually suggested that political power and economic events were endangered for the elites. (Bazant, 1997, p.5) In 1804, Spain went under a considerable financial strain due to the war with Great Britain. Spain went down the road in forcefully redeeming mortgage loans and selling farms, cattle, houses and businesses that were used for endowments and charitable foundations used for pious work, from the colonies in 1805-1808. This extraction process was sufficient enough to alienate the elite landowners from Spain along with others. (Bazant, 1997, p.6)
On September 16, 1810 the church bells rang, alerting the peasants to come to the church yard. Father Manuel Hidalgo (a creole) called for Mexican independence from Spain: “”Long live religion!, Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe! Long live the Americas and death to the corrupt government!”. (Consular, 1996) Hidalgo was not successful in his cause for independence for his people. He did initiate the struggle for independence from the Spanish rule that eventually lead into guerrilla warfare as the masses Mestizos and Indians rose against the Gachupines. (Bazant, 1997, p.12-19)
Mexican independence finally occurred in February 24,1821, as the Plan of Iguala. Never the less, independence failed to develop a stable government that could defend its national territory. Rather the young independent nation created a vicious cycle of political instability and economic failure for years to come, to say nothing of, threatened its sovereignty from foreign onslaughts. Such is the case with Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna description by Levy and Szekely: “In 1848, Mexico’s most despised, traitorous, duplicitous native son presided over the loss of roughly half of Mexico’s territory in the war with the United States. [. . . ] [From the 1820s to the 1950s. . . .[a]lmost no one could establish a viable government and a viable economic base”. (Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p. 477) (Levy, Bruhn, 2001, p.39-44)
In light of democratization, Hauss and Haussman depicts a nation’s potential for democracy: “The first years of any regime are critical, [. . .] it is new and fragile. […] [If] democracy can get through the first few elections, [ . . .] it can survive the transition from its first leadership to the opposition”. (Hauss, Haussmann, 2012, p.327) Since Mexico’s independence in 1821, the first form of government was not a republic but a monarchy. Augustin de Lturbide helped manipulate Spanish emissaries to grant Mexico independence from Spain. He declared himself Emperor Augustin 1. Augustin lasted one year before he was later executed by General Santa Anna. Then over a thirty-year time period, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna made himself known fracturing and causing chaos in the new nation, only for his self interest. From 1833-1855, he became president eleven times. He enjoyed more of a centralize or a less democratic government. ( about.com, 2013) In 1861, after an assortment of short-lived presidents, General Benito Juarez took over the country. By 1864, Juarez was forced out by the French for repayment and replaced by Austrian Maximilian, another Emperor. Three years later Maximilian was removed and executed by the previous General Juarez. In 1876, General Porfirio Diaz become the president-elect by a coup. His campaign promoted the idea that “presidents should not be allowed to be reelected” (Hauss, Huassman, 2012, p. 477) Diaz’s dictatorship lasted from 1876-1880 and again from 1884-1911. On the positive side during his reign, it was Diaz, who stabilized the country, encouraged foreign investment, and improved the economic infrastructure, such as the building extensive railroads, oil refineries, sugar mills and electrical generation facilities. ( Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p. 477)
Thus we come to the present and address why Mexico is leaning in the direction in the future of being a failed state. What this paper has established thus far, is democracy has never been in the forefront. The common denominators are wealth, power, that are both in bed with corruption. Second, in order to understand why the election of 2000 was successful, it is important to understand the following: first, how the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) evolved into power in the 1920s and reigned for seventy-one years, using corruption, manipulation, and exploited patronage in order to sustain their longevity. Second, the accumulated events that lead to the first 2000 democratic contest of Vincente Fox President.
One aspect of the PRI longevity he PRI manipulated the constitution The revised radical constitution in 1917 was constructed and had many of the principles of the original 1857 constitution, with three branches of government ( executive, bicameral legislative and judicial branches), and competitive elections where most public officials were directly elected by the people. Although its social content gave it the title of the first modern socialist constitution, it preceded the 1977 constitution of the former Soviet Union (bucknel.edu), the Mexican document replicates many principles and concepts of the constitution of the United States. The liberal concepts include federalism (31 states – sub divided into two thousand municipalities plus the Federal District/ Mexico City, each with state governor and unicameral legislature), separation of powers, and a bill of rights. The 1917 constitution adds a strong nationalist declaration, asserting Mexico’s control over its natural resources. It also recognizes social and labor rights (right to unionized), separation of church and state, and universal male suffrage. Reflecting the varied social backgrounds and political school of thought of its framers, the constitution of 1917 includes various contradictory provisions, endorsing within the same text socialism, capitalism, liberal democracy, authoritarian corporatism, and a host of unimplemented provisions for specific social reforms. (Hauss, Hausman, 2012, p.491-493) (gavilan.edu, 2009)
One highlight of the 1917 constitution noted that the president elect could not stand for reelection after a six (sexenio) year term and after the end of the six-year term was expected to leave political life. There is no vice president. But according to Frank Brandenburg: “Mexico has been able to avoid personal dictatorship by retiring their dictators every six years.” (Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p. 491) Unlike the U.S.A. president, the 1917 constitution gives the Mexican president a sizable amount of control such as the following: Only the president can promulgate and issue laws. Subject to the ratification of the senate, the president may appoint and dismiss cabinet officials and almost all employees of the executive branch such as ambassadors, consuls general, magistrates of the Supreme Court, and the mayor of the Federal District. The president also appoints the magistrates of the Supreme Court of the Federal District, subject to ratification by the Chamber of Deputies. Again, the patron-client relationship is very important here. All government positions are dependent on a hierarchy patron-client system where ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’. Presidents have historically played a decisive role in the selection and removal of state governors. Last, choosing one’s successor has allowed outgoing presidents to select individuals who personify either change or continuity with past policies, as demanded by circumstances and public opinion. (Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p. 491-493) (gavilan.edu, 2009)
President elect General Plutarco Elias Calles (1924-1928), a revolutionary organizer was a presume constitution stickler. (Bazant, 1977, p171-172) Calles was rabid about exterminating Catholicism in Mexico and believed by some scholars, that his oppression of Mexican Catholics was responsible for sparking the three-year long rebellion between the Church and State Cristero War. The 1917 constitution included five articles that Calles wanted to reenforce; thereby, instigating the war. Article 3 called for only secular education in the schools; Article 5 outlawed monastic orders; Article 24 forbade public worship outside the church; Article 27 placed restrictions on the right of religious organizations to hold property as well as foreigners and Article 130 disadvantaged clergy members of basic rights and made them in effect second-class citizens. Priests and nuns were denied the right to wear clerical attire, to vote, to criticize government officials or to comment on public affairs in religious periodicals. (Tuck, 2000)
In 1927, a lay-back United States’ ambassador, Dwight Whitney Morrow, came to Mexico. Morrow wanted to end the religious conflict for both humanitarian and practical reasons. So he started to smooth President Calles gloomy feathers through frequent cordial breakfasts with Calles, at the same time, address the religious dispute as well as topics on oil and irrigation. The end of the Cristero Rebellion resulted after the more accommodating President Emilio Portes Gil came into office. On May 1929, Morrow, and Father John J. Burke (from the U.S.A.) persuaded Gil to respond: “the Catholic clergy, when they wish, may renew the exercise of their rites with only one obligation, that they respect the laws of the land.” (Tucker, 1997) In late June 1929, church bells were heard everywhere in Mexico; at which time Morrow turns to his wife “Do you hear that, Betty?” he said. “I have reopened the churches in Mexico.”(Tucker, 1997).
Just as important, ex-President Calles developed a concept that would provide continuity from one president to the next, by forming a “political party that could control the nomination and hence the election of the next president”. (Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p. 479) Calles and his party supporters (consist of political bosses, military strongmen, labor unions and peasant organization) eventually evolved into the National Revolution Party in 1929 (later to become PRI in 1946), where Calles’s principle concept became a reality. ( countrystudies.us) After Gil, the PRI’s next president-elect was the charismatic General Lazaro Cardenas (1934-40). He ended Calles hold on Mexico and provided a degree of social justice. He initiated major reforms which include the following: made a major effort to build rural schools, redistributed land (1917 Constitution, Article 27) to landless peasants under communal farming called ejido, strengthened unions (Confederation of Mexican Workers and two peasants organizations (under 1917 Constitution, Article 123), and nationalized foreign-owned petroleum industry (PEMEX). (Tucker, 1997) (Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p. 479) (mongabay.com, 2013, p.1)
Since the revolution until 2000, the PRI has governed Mexician citizens as subjects under a semi-authorial or semi- democratic rule of the elites. The PRI solidified their power by having the outgoing PRI president select the new presidential candidate after getting a ‘thumbs-up’ from the PRI party. Although the citizens of Mexico were free to vote for their favorite candidate (one sign of democracy), the PRI had means of assuring the presidency through various degrees of voting fraud and control over the Federal Election Commission (CFE), whose responsibility were to count and verified the vote returns. “Votes were . . . bought either directly or through the provision of benefits [given to] a neighborhood, village, or social group”. ( Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p.484) Over time, this almost was accepted as normal occurrence. However, what became more transparent during President Carlos Salinas de Gortari’s era (1988-1992), was that the press began to write about the fraudulent PRI activities and the PRI party did not stop them. (histclo.com)
The hegemonic PRI had other supportive influences that maintain their longevity. Mexican society had a strong patronage system, ‘patron-client’ (camarillas) with a motto: “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”. (caroddoapclasses.com) The PRI kept loyal supporters happy by giving them opportunity for jobs and positions within the government or in other cases awarded contracts or jobs to do work for the government, just to get the vote. In other cases with the working class, the PRI assured better wages, health insurance, and better working conditions. Keeping control over the peasants, working class and the bureaucracy assured a base foundation for less conflict and longevity for the PRI.
As time progressed, corruption became more flagrant and PRI’s policies involving certain segments of Mexican society grew less significant. For example, days prior to the 1968 Olympics games in Mexico City, anti-PRI protestors considered it was an opportune time to use the international press for the Mexican students to publicize the demand for more political freedom and to end the restrictive use of police force. The results, President Gustavo Diaz Ordez, wanted to put the protest to an end, because the situation did not shed a good light on Mexico. Consequently, because of unknown gun fire that came from the direction of the protesting crowd, hundreds of demonstrators were killed by the military and police force that surrounded them. (histclo.com p. 2)
The unstable economy in the 1980’s due to fluctuation of rising and falling international oil prices, became a burden on the PRI, which raised questions about Mexico’s one-party rule. Mexico economy was unable to adjust between falling oil prices and the huge debt that occurred during the oil boom because of official corruption squandering the wealth of the country through wasteful spending and inflated payrolls. Subsequently, money that was going into subsidies, was being pulled back, along with peso devaluation and seized dollar accounts. As growing amount of Mexican citizens, especially the middle class, were becoming disenchanted with the PRI government, weakening the ‘ritualistic’ pattern founded by Calles and Cardenas. (mongabay.com, 2013, p. 7-8 )
To restore future economic growth, two new technocratic presidents, Miguel de la Madrid (1982-88) and his successor, a Harvard-grad-political-economist-technocrat Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994) restructured a program that systematically retracted most state ownership and regulation of key industries. The goal for restructuring was to promote Mexico into the global economy by promoting pro-business and free-marketing. (countrystudies.us) (Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p. 481) To make Mexico more attractive to foreign investment, Salinas amended Article 27 of the 1917 Constitution (land protectionism) allowing the ejido or community land to either be rented or sold into larger efficient farms and be replaced with products such as beef, timber, and oil, for exportation. By reforming Article 27, Salinas also open the door for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFT) with U.S.A. and Canada, to be implemented. On January 1, 1994, the same day the NAFT was activated, the Mexican State of Chiapas uprising occurred due to the fear of losing agriculture tariff protection and to shame the Mexican government. The Mayan Indians relied on the tariff protection from the smell of corn, beans and other products in order to provide enough income to maintain their basic livelihood. (american.edu)
Equally important, during the same time Madrid and Salinas presided over Mexico, their downplay of the PRI’s traditional populist and nationalist agenda produced an intraparty split (between career politician-populist and inexperienced technocrats). “The rift develop into the first major mass defection from the PRI ranks”. (mongabay.com, 2013, p. 1) The former governor and son of President Cardenas, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, along with Porfirio Ledo (former PRI secretary general) resign from the PRI in 1988 in contest of Salinas’s nomination and neoliberal policies produced by Madrid. Cardenas and Ledo created a coalition of left-wing parties that consist of labor unions, and grassroots organizations known as Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD). Cardenas became a presidential contestant in 1988. His loss, according to Hauss was due to the most “extensive voting fraud in Mexican history”. (Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p. 489) In 2006, the PRD’s candidate Obrador lost by a half of a percentage point to the president-elect Calderon. (Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p. 488-489) (mongabay.com, 2013, p.8)
After the assassination of a popular PRI candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio on campaign, Ernesto Zedillo won the 1994 presidential election under unusual vote-counting circumstances. (countrystudies.us) However, Zedillo vowed to change Mexican politics and he did just that. In 1996, Zedillo, PAN, and PRD signed an agreement establishing political reform that would eliminate the PRI’s control of the election process. The Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) brought legitimacy to ballot counting. First, voters were now required to have registrations picture ID cards in order to vote. Monitoring was established at most voting establishments. Second, vote tallies could be reported the same day of the voting, leaving less room for fraudulent manipulation. Thus between 1997-2000, free elections open the possibilities for advancement in the other two principle parties, PRD and PAN. In the congressional election that took place in 1997, the PRI lost control of the lower house also known as the Chamber of Deputies.
As mentioned earlier in the paper, the legislature branch consist of a bicameral congress divided into an upper chamber (Senate) and a lower chamber (Chamber of Deputies). Both chamber are responsible for passing important legislation; however, as mention earlier, the executive (president) is the one who initiates 90 percent of all legislation. Each senate seat is elected by direct vote for six years, two members per state and two representing the Federal District, total of 64 seats. Since 1993, Salinas government double the size to 128, where one of each four seat goes to the party that comes in second. The Deputies of Chambers consist of 500 seats, 200 members are elected for three years by proportional representation from among the large ‘plurinominal’ districts and the rest from single-member districts. Although all members of congress can not serve immediate reelection, but they can be reelected during nonconsecutive terms. (countrystudies.us)
Hence this paper arrives to the main opposition party to the PRI, the National Action Party (PAN). Historically the PAN has been in opposition with the PRI since 1939 when it was founded by Manuel Gomez Moran. The PAN appeared as a conservative reaction to a Cardinas government’s nationalization and land seizure. The party mainly consisted of people from the Catholic Church, the business sector, and groups alienated by the left-wing populist. The PAN had strong support in the county’s wealthiest and urbanized regions in the north and center of Mexico. It did not appeal to urban labor nor peasant groups because PAN preferred the role of limited government and was very pro-business and market, However, in 1992, PAN did align itself with PRI Salinas administration with land reforms and economic reforms. In the past, PAN has campaigned in favor of breaking up the ejidos into individual owned plots. Pan separated itself from the PRI by putting emphasis on democratization, eradication of government corruption, and additional electoral reforms during the mid 1990s where it began to win votes. By 1992, PAN’s campaign slogan “for Mexico without lies” (countrystudies.us), controlled more than 100 municipal governments and three governorships. The door was left wide-open for the charismatic, Harvard educated Catholic Vincente Fox Quesada, with strong right-wing roots, to capthe 2000 presidential victory. (countrstudies.us) Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p.486-488)
Now the question rests with why Mexico may be leaning toward a failed state. If that is the case, where does Mexico go into the future. With this in mind, the paper will address the failed state issue first. As mentioned before, economically, Mexico has its economy stability is dependent on who is in office and the global market. As we have seen thus far, is the longevity of the PRI did not succeed in building a modern, productive Mexico instead is weigh-down by massive dept. It still remains a Third-World country with endemic levels of poverty. Since NAFTA was implemented, the economic reforms that came afterward has impacted the chiapas region, it did not result in a more productive agriculture system. These reforms replaced the traditional subsistence farming of the Mayan Indians with cattle ranching, timber manufacturing, and oil production. This left vacancy for indigenous displacement, migration to the U.S. and increase in drug cartel activity.
Second, oil production is rated fifth in the world according to the oildrum.com, yet according to Hauss, “Mexico’s second largest source of foreign income comes in form of remittances from its citizens living in the U.S.”. (Hauss, Haussman, 2012, p. 472) The one-party rule brought stability, but cannot take credit in succeeding in creating a modern economy which provides a decent living to ‘all’, not just middle class and upper class citizens the Mexican people , not just middle class and upper class citizens. The failure has meant millions of people have immigrated to the U. S. in order to seek a decent paying job.
Third, Mexico now has an active three party system, whereby, each is capable in winning elections. During the PAN’s Fox and Calderon government, the needed change that the people wanted, has been limited because of gridlock in policy making due different parties in congress. The three party system also stifles risk-taking on controversial issues without the fear of being damage or hard to produce partisan alignment.
Fourth, transparency has never been a slogan in which the PRI would use nor has it involved individualism. The main objective was to stay in power. Every political system during the PRI reign had corruption as part of its facade and according to Jorge Chabot talking about Mexico: “corruption seem to part of the our DNA”. (Lennex, 2013) Some scholars might add that corruption is so “embedded in the [Mexico’s] society that there’s no prospect of eliminating or even curbing it anytime soon”. (Lennex) Corruption in the security forces and judiciary, thanks to the PRI legacy created an atmosphere that has allowed the drug cartels to use Mexico as a conduit to get their drugs to the U.S., thus, causing violent fighting between drug cartels and authorities in certain parts of Mexico. According to Austin Bay, Mexican said with pride: “In 2000, PAN’s Vincente Fox became president. Political evolution ended the dictatorship, not revolution”. (Bay, 2012) PAN’s Calderon (2006-2012) did aim to create a modern and just society by attacking the drug lords and either imprisoned or killed them. He also attempted to systemically reform Mexico, politically, economically and institutionally. (Hawley, Solache, 2008) Now in 2012, a new PRI Pena is president; will he be able to continue the attack on corruption?
So what can Mexico do to improve. First according to analyst: “Civil society must take responsibility”. (Samuels, 2013) Regardless who is elected, Mexican cannot expect their elected leader to change the country’s culture. Second, the rule of law needs to be respected and enforced. Mexico needs honorable people in office and a more effective judicial system. Third, Mexico needs to take control of its debt. Producing a more liberal or market- oriented economy can promote income that stays in Mexico instead flowing elsewhere. Allow more entrepreneur business that will jump start the economy. fifth, control the corruption. Business and Mexican citizens need to feel safe without feeling that there has to be a bribe in order to be safe or to grow a private business. Last, above all, the press needs to be free to report on all life’s events, negatively or positively. People need to know what is going on in order to make good decisions about their government.
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