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Mexico: Political and
Economic Change
Jackson Kane
History of Mexico
● The oldest known Mexican society were the Olmec.
● The Zapotec, Aztec, Toltec, and Maya also lived in Mexico
in pre-Columbian times.
● After the conquistadores, beginning around 1519 Mexico
was regarded as Spanish territory until it gained its
independence on August 24, 1821 as a militaristic
Historical Government
● The Treaty of Cordoba, by which Mexico initially gained its
independence from Spain in 1821, established the First
Mexican Empire, a military state.
● The First Mexican Empire was overthrown quickly, leading
to a republican government for the state, which was
replaced in 1863 by a hereditary monarchy, the Second
Mexican Empire. Finally, in 1917, the modern Mexican
Constitution established a federal presidential republic.
Current Mexican Political Structure
● The current Mexican Constitution was ratified in 1917, and
establishes a federal presidential republic modeled on the
United States.
● Three levels of government exist in Mexico: federal, state,
and municipal. There are three branches of the federal
government, namely the executive, legislative, and judicial
Strife in Mexico
● The Mexican Revolution was a bloody one, with Mexican
casualties estimated at over one million.
● More recently, the prominence of drug cartels and
violence between them has given popularity to the term,
“drug war,” with some going so far as to categorize this
violence as a form of civil war in itself. This is, however,
usually regarded as only figuratively being a war.
● After the Mexican Revolution established the United Mexican
States, a new party was established in 1929: the Institutional
Revolutionary Party (Spanish: Partido Revolucinario
Institucional, or PRI), which would hold power until 2000.
● The PRI was called “the perfect dictatorship” by Mario Vargas
Llosa, a Peruvian author.
● The PRI was established as a member of the Socialist
International. However, its policies have been more recently
characterized as centrist.
Economy of Mexico
● The Mexican economy has seen many ups and downs
since the establishment of the United Mexican States.
● The first forty years of rule by the PRI were dubbed the,
“Mexican Miracle,” due to incredible growth, but more
recent years have seen drastic measures and many
● The PRI used Soviet-inspired national plans involving
heavy infrastructure investment during this period.
● Established in 1994, the North American Free Trade
Agreement has greatly benefitted the Mexican economy
by allowing greater freedom in trade with Canada and
especially the United States.
● In broad terms, NAFTA eliminates tarrifs on the trade of
goods and services originating within the three member