Advanced civilizations like the mayans, aztecs, olmecs, etc. were developed in the territory now known as Mexico. They were the most dominant civilizations in virtually all of the Americas until the first Spanish explorers arrived to the continent. After more than 300 years of colonialism, Mexico started its independence process which would be finished in the year 1821. In the Mexican Revolution of the early 20th century, popular forces led by Pancho Villa (in the North) and Emiliano Zapata (in the South) ended the reign of long-time bourgeois president Porfiro Diaz – but power soon passed again to less revolutionary leaders.
The Mexican Revolution of 1910-1917 was the first major social revolution of the 20th century. It was set in motion mainly by Francisco I Madero, an aristocrat from the Northern state of Coahuila who sought to introduce reforms. He succeeded in deposing the long-time dictator Porfiro Díaz in 1911, but as Díaz reputedly said on his departure, Francisco had "unleashed a tiger". No sooner had Francisco Madero taken office than more revolts broke out around the country. In the North his erstwhile ally Pascual Orozco turned against him after having been passed by for a cabinet post. Pro-Díaz generals such as Bernardo Reyes and the former dictator's nephew, Felix Díaz, fought Francisco Madero in other parts of the country. And in the South, the peasant leader Emiliano Zapata fought for the return of the Indian's communal lands.
In 1913 a new dictator, Victoriano Huerta, took the presidency after Francisco Madero's assasination and a coup d'état. This began a chaotic and violent period in which revolutionary generals initially united against Victoriano Huerta but then split along class lines and began fighting each other. Along with Emiliano Zapata, the other important leader from a rural lower class background was Francisco ("Pancho") Villa, a tough and energetic former bandit captain from the Northern state of Chihuahua. The other principal leaders, Venustiano Carranza and Alvaro Obregón, were from middle- to upper-class rural backgrounds. Venustiano Carranza was head of the Constitutional army, highly nationalist, and a conservative when it came to land redistribution. Alvaro Obregón, a farm owner from the Northern state of Sonora, eventually became head of Venustiano Carranza's army. Although Francisco Villa and Emilano Zapata were able at one point to march triumphantly into Mexico City and occupy the presidential chair, they lacked a clear plan for governing. Their armies declined, Alvaro Obregón defeating Francisco Villa in several major battles in central Mexico and driving him North; and Emiliano Zapata retreating to guerrilla warfare in the mountains of the South.
By 1917 Venustiano Carranza was firmly in power. This was a defeat for the most radical and egalitarian social forces which were represented by Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata, but Venustiano Carranza was still progressive compared to previous Mexican presidents and the still-existing conservative forces in Mexico. The Revolutionary constitution which he put in place in 1917 contained several important transformative and egalitarian measures. These included Article 3 which dealt with public education; Article 27 which paved the way for land redistribution as well as putting all subsoil wealth (eg. minerals, oil) under national control; and Article 123 which was designed to empower the labour sector. Article 27 was eventually used to carry out the 1938 oil nationalization, after overcoming two deades of stubborn opposition from U.S. and British oil interests and intense pressure from their governments.
According to the World Bank, Mexico has the greatest GDP per capita in Latin America, and has established itself as a middle-high income country. However, the division of the wealth extremely favors the rich. Mexico is the 9th largest economy in the world (measured by the country's GDP). Mexico has several Free Trade Agreements. NAFTA is the most important (with USA and Canada), although the agreements with the European Union and Japan are continiously increasing, as well.
Mexico is the most populous spanish-speaking country in the world and the most populous latinamerican country second to Brazil. The population in 2003 was 104M. It is estimated that 60% of the population can be considered mestizo (mixed european and indigenous ethnicity), around 30% is indigenous and 9% is white. Mexico is mostly Roman Catholic.
Mexican culture is wide and varies tremendously from region to region. In a study entitled "¿Cuánto vale nuestra cultura?" (How much is our culture?) the mexican government concluded that 6% of Mexico's GDP is generated by cultural industries. Several types of tourism can be found in Mexico, since it has beaches (Cancun and Playa del Carmen being extremely popular among American and European spring-breakers), ancient ruins (Teotihuacán, Chichen-Itzá, etc.), colonial architecture (Guanajuato, Oaxaca), and industrialized, bussiness-oriented cities (Mexico City and Monterrey).
Cold war role
Due to its proximity to the United States, history of territorial conquest, nationalism, corrupt one-party government, and weak economy Mexico presented a potential threat to imperialist domination of Latin America during the cold war.
- Magdaleno Manzanárez, 2004. "Mexico's Full Circle Journey". In Magdaleno Manzanárez and Laurence Armand French, NAFTA and Neoclolonialism.
- INEGI - National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics
- Official Government Website
- EZLN - A indigenous organization
- ↑ Magdaleno Manzanárez, "Mexico's Full Circle Journey", p 22.
- ↑ Magdaleno Manzanárez, "Mexico's Full Circle Journey", p 24.
- ↑ "Mexico: The Ultimate Domino?"
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