Mexican democratization

1. “The making of Mexico’s democracy was distinctive in many ways. There was no Nelson Mandela, no single leader to personify and guide the struggle. Nor was there a single democratic movement, but rather a multitude of initiatives from individuals and groups across the society and the country, which gradually converged as more and more Mexicans became convinced of the need to end the PRI’s despotic rule.”

2. “We contend that Mexico’s opening to democracy is one of the few major developments in the country’s modern history that was not shaped by invasion or intervention by the United States.”

3. The Salinas cabinet had an amazing preponderance of economics Ph.ds. His Finance Secretary had a Ph.d. in economics from MIT. The Trade Secretary and Budget Secretaries had Ph.ds. in economics from Yale. Salinas’s Chief of Staff studied Political Economy at Stanford. The head of the PRI at the time had a masters in economics from University of Pennsylvania. His government favored economic liberalization but did much less for democracy.

4. “It can be argued that Raul Salinas de Gortari [brother of the president, Carlos] did more than any other living Mexican to contribute to his country’s transition to democracy. His, however, was not a hero’s role; his impact stemmed from the compelling force of his negative example. He did more to discredit the PRI system in the eyes of the Mexican people than anyone else in seven decades, and in so doing, he significantly hastened the demise of authoritarian rule.” Follow this link to the famous photo of Raul with his mistress.

5. Since democratization, progress against crime, corruption, and drug trafficking has been slow at best. The Mexican public agrees.

6. Some communities in southern Mexico still reckon time with the Mayan calendar.

7. By 2002, “some were saying that [Vincente] Fox’s only truly major achievement had been to get himself elected.”

The facts and quotations are from Opening Mexico: The Making of a Democracy, by Julia Preston and Samuel Dillon, an excellent book on how an autocratic society can find its way to democracy.


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