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Volume 57 / Social Sciences

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS: MEXICO


RODERIC A. CAMP, Professor of Government, Claremont-McKenna College


TWO THEMES, THE ZAPATISTA UPRISING in Chiapas and its aftermath, and the development and consequences of political and economic reforms from the early 1980s through 1994, dominate the literature reviewed this biennium. Given their recent development, events in Chiapas cannot yet be expected to have resulted in a major analytical work. Most political literature on the subject is neither insightful nor balanced. However, some very fine articles and compilations have appeared. Among the best of these is George A. Collier's, "The New Politics of Exclusion: Antecedents to the Rebellion in Mexico," written from an anthropological point of view and based on field experience, offering both insightful background information and a clear appraisal of the issues (item bi 94010573). Though perhaps not as well-developed substantively, but an excellent interpretation nonetheless, is Andrés Fábregas Puig’s "Una reflexión sobre el conflicto chiapaneco" (item bi 95021178). The essays in Chiapas: los problemas de fondo examine a variety of interrelated issues (item bi 95022464). One of the most objective and helpful analyses of civil-military relations, is "Civil Military Relations in Mexico: the Zapatista Revolt and Its Implications" by Stephen J. Wager and Donald E. Schulz (item bi 95025423).

Controversy over the progress of and interrelationships between economic and political reforms has piqued the interest of scholars in Mexico and the US. Although most of the literature still fails to draw comparisons with other Latin American states, or even Asian and European examples, several excellent monographs lay the groundwork for future studies. Among these is Julie A. Erfani's The paradox of the Mexican State: rereading sovereignty from independence to NAFTA, which provides a general analysis of the evolution of State reform and national sovereignty since the 1820s (item bi 95001833). Stephen D. Morris' Political reformism in Mexico: an overview of contemporary Mexican politics offers a detailed analysis of changes under the presidencies of Miguel de la Madrid and Carlos Salinas, as well as a case study of Jalisco (item bi 95022194). The most outstanding work, focused primarily on technocratic leadership, is that of Miguel A. Centeno, Democracy within reason: technocratic revolution in Mexico (item bi 94015892). Guy Poitras and Raymond Robinson’s, "The Politics of NAFTA in Mexico" is an excellent study of the trade agreement’s impact (item bi 94015527).

The consequences of economic and political reforms have received less attention. One significant result of the reforms - decentralization of decision-making, specifically in the fiscal realm - is analyzed effectively, using historical statistics, in Alberto Díaz Cayeros’, "Desarrollo económico e inequidad regional" (item bi 95022435). Jonathan Fox examines a second important outcome of the reforms in his sophisticated theoretical and substantive study on State paternalism (item bi 96001601).

As noted in previous volumes, electoral processes and analyses have assumed primary importance for political analysts, and some serious literature concerning the 1991 congressional elections has begun to appear. Among the best work on election issues is Silvia Gómez Tagle’s edited collection, Elecciones de 1991: la recuperación oficial (item bi 94009482), and her monograph, La frágil democracia mexicana: partidos políticos y elecciones (item bi 94015871). Both provide perceptive insights and important election data. Studies have already been published on the critical 1994 presidential elections, including the intellectual insights of Octavio Paz in "Las elecciones de 1994 doble mandato" (item bi 95005883), and the analysis of the Washington Office on Latin America inThe 1994 Mexican election: a question of credibility, a a study of structural weaknesses (item bi 94011297).

Political parties, unlike electoral issues, continue to receive attention, but the quality of current work is much less impressive. Nikki Craske's, "Corporatism Revisited: Salinas and the Reform of the Popular Sector," is the best recent analysis of a subsidiary organization under the PRI umbrella (item bi 95022369). A second, Juan Reyes del Campillo's "Presidencialismo y representación funcional en el PRI," provides information on the party's legislative representation (item bi 95013640). Luis Javier Garrido's excellent "La ruptura: la corriente democrática del PRI," is the first comprehensive analysis of the "Democratic Current" encisión which began before the 1988 presidential campaign (item bi 94015837). Notable work has also been conducted on the National Action Party (PAN). The importance of its legislative branch is evaluated by Alonso Lujambo in "De la hegemonía a las alternativas” (item bi 95016150). Irma Campuzano Montoya, explores contributing factors to PAN’s first gubernatorial victory in Mexican political history (item bi 95022430).

State-group relations, particularly between organized labor and the private sector, continue to be a scholarly focus. The most significant work to appear in this field is Kevin J. Middlebrook’s , The paradox of revolution: labor, the State, and authoritarianism in Mexico (item bi 95007040). Two important essays place labor within the context of NAFTA: "Mexican State-labor relations and the political implications of free trade" by Maria Lorena Cook (item bi 95014475) and "El sindicalismo mexicano frente a la restructuración" by Francisco Zapata (item bi 95022360). Blanca Heredia's "Mexican business and the State" provides perhaps the best analysis of State-business relations before the Salinas years (item bi 96001032).

Literature concerning relations between the State and interest groups has incorporated discussions of new topics such as NGOs and the political roles of women. Some of the best work is offered by Luis Hernández and Jonathan Fox in, "Mexico's difficult democracy: grassroots movements, NGOs, and local government" (item bi 95011943). Graciela Freyermuth Enciso and Mariana Fernández Guerrero focus on women’s groups in their work on Chiapas, "Migration, organization, and identity: the case of a women's group from San Cristóbal de las Casas" (item bi 95019189). Women, as distinct from female-oriented NGOs, have not received much attention within the discipline, and the literature remains analytically and quanititatively sparse. Mexican scholars continue to offer the best work, including that of Carmen Ramos Escandón, "Women's movements, feminism, and Mexican politics" (item bi 95015240), Gina Zabludovsky, "Mujeres empresarias y participación política en México" (item bi 95006677), and Marta Lamas, "Algunas características del movimiento feminista en Ciudad de México" (item bi 95019053).

The media and public opinion polling continue to draw insufficient attention from scholars. Miguel Basáñez, an academic and pollster, provides a useful overview in "Public opinion research in Mexico" (item bi 95010168). Lucila Vargas, in "Social uses and radio practices," focuses her analysis on communications literature in order to assesses the impact of electronic media on Mexican culture (item bi 95007043). A more comprehensive study is José Luis Ortiz Garza's examination of the historical political impact of the media, La guerra de las ondas (item bi 94015860).

Three topics, the political role of the Catholic Church and religion generally, the human rights situation in Mexico, and state and local political analyses, continue to be neglected. Miguel Concha Malo's edited collection, Los derechos políticos como derechos humanos (item bi 95022379), provides some appraisals of abuses, while Carlos Fazio's biography of Chiapas’ bishop-negotiator, Samuel Ruiz, el caminante, sheds new light on the perspective of this leading Catholic figure (item bi 95022381). Finally, Pablo González Casanova, one of Mexico's leading political scientists, and Jorge Cadena Roa collected descriptive data and difficult-to-obtain statistics from all the Mexican states during the transitional 1980s to compile their three-volume reference work, La República Mexicana: modernización y democracia de Aguascalientes a Zacatecas (item bi 95022368).


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