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Volume 51 / Social Sciences

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS: MEXICO


RODERIC A. CAMP, Professor of Political Science, Tulane University, New Orleans

SOME INTERESTING TRENDS CONTINUE to occur since the appearance of HLAS 49. Unfortunately, no major monographs analyzing Mexican domestic politics have been published in English. The bulk of scholarship has been of Mexican origin, and the best of that work has been scholarly articles, not books. Most of the political literature in the last two years has focused on elections and opposition parties. This is a welcome change because both have generally been neglected in previous periods. On the other hand, this focus ignores other major topics, many of which have received little or no attention from Mexican or North American scholars.

Election research has increased in sophistication over the last few years, and Mexicans especially have begun to use survey research to ascertain voter intentions and affiliations. The off-year congressional and local elections of 1985 received the most attention during this period. Octavio Rodríguez Araujo (item bi 90009577) provides an excellent comparative overview of opposition parties and their growth from 1964 to 1985. For 1985 specifically, Miguel Angel Granados (item bi 90009551) created an election manual, which includes, among other information, a complete list of all candidates by congressional district. Mexican scholars have also provided excellent analytical work on local elections, a topic neglected by their North American peers. Among the best of these studies is Jorge Alonso's perceptive and well-documented work on Guadalajara and the state of Jalisco (item bi 89000351), including many tables of local election statistics. For the preceding election period, Carlos Martínez Assad's Municipios en conflicto (item bi 90009564), although uneven in quality, contains many useful case studies, especially from northern Mexico. Some quick analyses of the 1988 elections have also made it into print, and among the best early publications are those by Delal Baer (item bi 88003155), who has written many articles on Mexican elections, and Leopoldo Gómez and Joseph Klesner ("Mexico's 1988 Elections," item bi 89000533, which appeared in LASA Forum).

The parties themselves have also received some attention. The most complete work is a new analysis of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) by Dale Story (item bi 90009586), which examines internal changes within the official party prior to the 1988 elections, and the emergence of the Cardenista front. The Cardenistas have not yet received a full-scale analytical treatment, although one work by Jorge Laso de la Vega (item bi 89000345) includes some documents relevant to the party. The pre-Cárdenas left is treated in a broad and eclectic collection by Barry Carr and Ricardo Anzaldua (item bi 90009561). The National Action Party, the other major opposition party, but from the right, receives better treatment in El PAN: alternativa de poder o instrumento de la oligarquía empresarial, Abraham Nuncio's unfocused but insightful interpretation of PAN's connections with the Catholic Church and the business sector (item bi 89000368).

Besides elections and opposition parties, the other topic currently in vogue is State-group relationships, particularly between private and public sectors. The best analyses are by Matilde Luna, el al. (item bi 90009559), focusing on the consequences of the 1982 bank nationalization on this relationship, and the excellent comparative study of the private-public sector relationship in the Cárdenas, López Mateos and Echeverría administrations by Juan Manuel Martínez Nava (item bi 89000367). A special group of businessmen, wealthy immigrants to the United States, never analyzed previously, received attention in a short essay by Valdemar de Murguía (item bi 90009543). Finally, Germán Pérez and Samuel León (item bi 90009546) have collected a series of essays which examine State activities in many areas, including relationships with the private sector and the Church.

The military and the Church continue to be ignored, as is the private sector itself. Groups, by and large, have also received little attention, especially women. One study, although not analytical in scope, is ANFER's documentary source about feminine political history (item bi 89000358). Another group which has been ignored altogether is Mexican political prisoners and the "disappeared." A brief, incomplete study by Oscar Loza Ochoa examines this issue in Sinaloa since 1976 (item bi 89000383). The rural poor, also ignored largely by political scientists, receives excellent treatment in Merilee Grindle's article, "The Response to Austerity" (item bi 89000463). Bureaucrats, as distinct from higher level political appointees, also are carefully analyzed by Bertha Lerner (item bi 90009557), who interprets their passive behavior.

From a documentary, historical perspective, one reference work deserves mention: an excellent compilation of all the important 19th- and 20th-century political plans is available for the first time in English in Thomas B. Davis and Amado Ricon Virulegio's The Political Plans of Mexico (item bi 90009570).

The most interesting interpretative piece is an insightful essay by Adolfo Aguilar Zinser (item bi 88002969) on Mexico's political modernization, and the role the US might play.


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