Mexico Today–A Short Outline

Dr Rich Gibson 2011


Here I draw my outline from James Cockcroft, “Mexico’s Revolution, Then and Now,” Monthly Review Press, August 2010.


I do not share Cockcroft’s views nor his analytical method, but the book is an excellent examination, challenging and up-to-date.


2010 was the bicentenary and centenary of Mexico’s revolutions, the first led by Hidalgo, who called for “Rivers of Blood!” and the second by Magnon, Villa, Zapata, and many others who called for “Land and Liberty.” It was a good year for a look back, from the present.


Per Cockcroft:


            *1/3 of the people of Mexico are unemployed or work in the USA. On the other hand, thousands are over-employed, that is, work two or more jobs, for very low wages.


            *51.3 percent of Mexico’s people live in poverty; 76% of the original people.


            *Inflation in Mexico remains high, despite several devaluations of the peso.


            *Like the US, rich people in Mexico pay few taxes.


            *41 million people of Mexico are in the US. About 12 million of them have no US papers.


            *Mayday, 2006, the day of the massive boycott, was the largest worker demonstration in US history. 


            *Mexico is the second most inequitable country in the Americas, after Haiti. Inequality is growing, fast, not narrowing–as in the US.


            *Mexico is the number two US trading partner, third for oil exports to the US. One-half of Pemex oil goes to the US. Where does the money go? To pay foreign debts, for the system of bribes, to politicians...


            *2 % of the people of Mexico read a newspaper. 4% buy a book each year. The source of most: two monopolized TV stations.


            *In Ciudad Juarez, from 2008-2010, there were 4700 murders, most not investigated.


            *Mexico’s unions are, for the most part, charro (corrupt) unions which sell labor peace to employers in exchange for good lives for the union heads.


            *The drug cartels turned Mexico from a neo-liberalized (exploited by imperialism) state, to a narc-neo-liberal state, the narcotics trade feeding banks, politicians, and others on both sides of the border. Calderon, per Cockcroft, favors the Sinolas.


            *Narco-trafficking is matched by sex and labor trafficking, sex becoming a booming industry.


            *Narco-trafficking, hardly interdicted, is used as a reason to fully militarize the society.


            *Could the Honduran coup of 2010 foreshadow a Mexico military coup? Cockcroft says yes.


            *People’s resistance has taken many forms. Teachers joined their students to form a breakaway union. The Zapatistas remain active in Chiapas, but inactive elsewhere, and they appear to have renounced violence. In other areas, people have seized factories, schools, government institutions, struck, etc., but they are now, typically, faced with court orders and state sponsored violence.


            *De-immigration under Obama: 400,000 people were expelled from the US.


            *Mexico is now a low-pay/low productivity state. It’s efforts toward high-tech were offset by cheaper Chinese labor, more viciously exploited.


            *Emigration from Mexico serves as a stopgap against social unrest and, though down, remunerations remain a very important source of income. 


            *Mexico’s culture remains imbued with a thousand forms of hierarchy, remnants from the Church, machismo, racism, the patron system, and more.


            *Land reform never overcame the hacienda system, the upshot being that about 20 transnational companies control most of Mexico’s natural resources, at the peril of land and water.


            *Peasants are more and more driven from their land: proletarianized.


            *Mexico today is, in many cases, run by Ivy-league trained politicians in debt and service to the US. The political parties are but two heads of the same poisonous snake representing, for the most part, capital.


            “...we (the US) must open our doors of our universities to young, ambitious Mexicans and make the effort to educate them in the American way of respect for the leadership of the US. Mexico will need competent leaders and these young people will come to occupy important positions and will eventfully take possession of the presidency itself....without the US having to spend a cent or fire a single shot, they will do what we want and do it more and better and more radically than we ourselves could have done.” Robert Lansing, Secretary of State 1924


            *The sharp anti-clerical restrictions of the 1917 Constitutions have been fully reversed; the Church (and some of its rightist sects, like Opus Dei) remains a powerful force.


            *Mexico has the most expensive elections in the world, even more expensive than the US. The recent, ostensibly stolen, election cost more that $1 billion.


            *People will resist, as they must, but within this extraordinarily complex situation, resistance must be wise.