Mexico. The July 7 regional elections resulted in a largely unchanged position for Mexico’s largest political parties. This meant that the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) maintained its position as the country’s most powerful party. According to Countryaah, in Baja California, where the governor post was at stake, the center – right party National Action Party (PAN) retained power, but PRI won in some of the most important municipalities.
In total, the PRI won the mayoral posts in 8 of the 13 state capitals and strengthened its position locally through several victories in the party’s traditionally strong strongholds, such as the states of Durango and Chihuahua. The second major opposition party The Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) lost big in the state of Zacatecas but was successful in other states. Election Day was generally seen as a test for the national pact concluded by PRI, PAN and PRD.
The authorities’ failure to cope with organized crime led to an increase in the national guard across the country. In some states, they were allowed, while human rights groups warned of the legal risks and that violence could instead escalate. One of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s election promises was to combat violence in the country, and drug-related violence certainly showed a tendency to decline nationally, partly because of the establishment of these citizens’ guards. At the same time, it increased in some parts of the country, e.g. in the state of Michoacán, where the assassination of an outspoken mayor in November caused a great stir.
The increased violence in Michoacán was considered to be linked to a war between two new competing drug forces, the “Knights of the Temple” and the Jalisco Nueva Generación. One of Mexico’s most wanted men, Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, leader of the brutal Zetas cartel, was arrested in July in the state of Nuevo León.
A major political issue towards the end of the year was the government’s proposals for reforms in the energy sector, including partial privatization of the state-owned oil company Pemex. In particular, the left-wing PRD, whose leader is the son of President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-40) who nationalized the oil sector in 1938, opposed all talk of privatization, and organized several major protest actions in Mexico City during the year, demanding a referendum on the issue.
A Mexican proverb describes the country’s position as follows: «Poor Mexico. So far from God and so close to the United States! ” Relations with the United States have always been problematic. California, Texas and New Mexico were Mexican states until 1848, when the territories were conquered by the United States. In 1914, North American troops occupied Veracruz in a clumsy attempt to overthrow President Huertas. Although Huerta was unpopular and crashed shortly after, there was general resistance to the invasion. The nationalization of the oil in 1938 also led to a sharp conflict with the United States.
These historical events are important to Mexico. They are fully discussed in school books and are part of the general political culture. The country emphasizes keeping the United States at a distance and is still trying to mark its political independence. When the United States in 1964 favored full boycott of Cuba, all Latin American countries followed the injunction – except Mexico. This was not a Mexican support for the Cuban Revolution, for actual contact with Cuba was kept to a minimum, but proof that Mexico was not a North American tail.
In the late 70’s, relations with the United States were marked by two main issues: the Mexican immigrants to the United States and the oil. Unemployment had forced millions of Mexicans across the border into the United States, serving as agricultural labor and low-wage jobs in cities. The money they sent back to Mexico was an important contribution to the trade balance. But their situation as illegal immigrants was also unsafe, and there were so many of them that Mexico could even be in a precarious position. If everyone was repatriated, the entire Mexican economy would falter. Mexico therefore wants firm agreements with the United States on labor and settlement north of the border. Mexico wanted to use the big oil finds in the 70’s to increase its position on the economic and political heavyweights in the north, but the crisis of 82 and the subsequent crises of the 90’s destroyed this possibility. The United States has played an important role in shaping the changing crisis programs. At the same time, the conclusion of the NAFTA Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Canada in 92 marked a widespread capitulation to the superpower. The Mexican industrialization strategy had concentrated since the 1950’s on import substitution – replacing imported goods with Mexican. The NAFTA agreement meant that the Mexican market from 2000 was completely open to goods from the US and Canada. The country thus became heavily dependent on exports of its commodities – especially the oil – and the work of the North American-owned industries, where wages are over 10 times lower than in the United States.
Facing Latin America, Mexico wants to play a leading role, competing with Brazil and Argentina for this. The country is Latin America’s third largest by volume and the second largest in terms of population. Mexico has played an active role within Latin American organizations and negotiations, and has often taken an independent line with the United States. Political refugees from other Latin American countries have largely been allowed to settle in Mexico, and until the 1980’s Ciudad de Mexico was therefore a center of exile political debate and organization.