History of Democratic Development in Mexico
Many countries around the world have different views on government. In some instances, the people do not get a say in the type of government that rules over them. Other governments are run by the citizens of the nation, and countries operate based on the majority rule. Cuba for instance has a communist political system. Other countries such as the United States has a constitution put in place by the people that dictates what rights the citizens have, and what the government can and cannot do. Mexico has a similar type government called a federal democratic republic in which there is a constitution and the people vote for their president. There is a system of checks and balances to keep the power limited and to ensure the government does not get too authoritative.
In 1810 started the beginning of Mexico’s attempts to be its own country, separate from the Spanish government. This revolt, later named the Mexican War of Independence, was led by Miguel Hidalgo Costilla and would last until 1821. This would pave the way for the establishment of the first Mexican Republic which will last until 1835. Following this republic would be the centralist republic of Mexico, the concentration of power to a central figure, and would last until 1846. The previous constitution of 1824 was repealed in 1835 until 1846, to which the country would return to a federalist government in 1847. The current constitution of Mexico was put in place in 1917 after the Mexican Revolution that lasted from 1910 to 1920. With the instating of this constitution, “one overriding objective was to limit the power of the president as well as the perpetuation of this power through reelection.” (Kincaid and Tarr, 2005, p. 209) The Revolution would conclusively lead to the overthrow of dictatorial president Porfirio Díaz. He came into power when he first attempted to be elected to rule over Mexico but was refused by the people. Unhappy with the results he led a coup to which he seized power in 1876.
Under his leadership land went to the wealthy. The people had no say in the development of the country. As time went on, economic problems within the country began to surface, and even his wealthy counterparts began to reject him as well. Some even went as far as to challenge him as president. Anyone who was a threat to his power was jailed. The most prominent person to stand up against him was Francisco Madero who ultimately put in motion the Revolution. Madero would eventually replace Diaz as president of Mexico. This would not be where it ends however. As the uprising continued citizens fought amongst themselves for power. Madero made attempts to end the wars but it would be his general, Victoriano Huerta, who would rebel against him and strategically have him executed to seize power for himself.
Under Huertas rule, Mexico was more tyrannical than ever. War lingered on as attempts to overthrow Huerta were pursued. In 1917 Carranza, a revolutionary leader, was named president and under him the Constitution as formalized. Reforms such as an increase in work hours, pay, rights for workers to strike, and redistribution of stolen lands was established. Mexico was still in turmoil as rebellions would continue for a number of years. This was in response to one party rule, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which had made a name for itself as also being corrupt and oppressive. This political party would remain in control until 2000.
Like any developing nation, Mexico has had to overcome barriers. Nation-building is the coming together of all people within that nation. The beginning of national identity was after the Mexican War of Independence was won. Following that, dictator Diaz fought to preserve sacred objects. It has been difficult for the people of Mexico to unify over the years due to national instability in government and persistent conflict over what is best for the nation. Without a true leader with the support of the people, progress is difficult. There have been frequent changes in policies, types of government, and ways the nation is managed. This creates doubt, distrust, and chaos. From federalism to authoritarianism to federalism again, consistency has been hard to establish. Wars have ravished through the nation for 100 years since their succession from Spain. With this separation Mexico lost mercury which was supplied by silver mines owned by Spain. Prices surged and led to stagnation.
Barriers to state building include the Mexican landscape. It was difficult to farm. Its terrain was full of mountains and deserts and on top of that there was no infrastructure to transport products. The citizens of the country lacked confidence. Mexico has territories dividing the country otherwise known as the United Mexican States. This was achived following the first Constituion is 1824, identifying itself as a independent country. With General Porfirio Díaz in power came the first real economic prosperity as he industrialized and modernized Mexico. With Diaz in office, Mexico was opened to foreign capital which was the mainstay for railroads which would be integral to linking cities and ports in the nation. This opened the door for possibilities with the mining and petroleum industries. Mexico continued to grow financially with eliminating foreign imports and using domestic products instead. This means the country used what it could produce instead of relying on other countries to supply it. When oil reserves were discovered in the Gulf of Mexico. Mexico borrowed from other nations and once oil prices dropped in the 1980s it led to a financial crisis.
Following this crisis Mexico developed a free market capitalism policy. In order for economy to flourish, people have to have faith in the system and participate in the economy by investing their money. If there is no investment, there will be limited activity. “Unless institutions are created that limit the authority and discretion of government, the economy will not grow, and the government itself will have insufficient revenues to ensure its own political survival.” (Haber, 2008, p. 5) Participation in this democracy is allowed through government elections. A recent barrier is a lack of faith in the current democratic government. Many Mexican citizens feel as if the government is not being transparent and is dening requests for information. Other barriers to political participation include a lack of education, personal beliefs, lack of interest, etc.
Mexico should continue forward with their democratic governance. Development of a federal democratic republic has helped Mexico become more stable as a country. “Federalism helps protect civil and political liberties by limiting the scope of national government.” (Magstadt, 2014, p. 75) It has allowed the citizens to have a voice in who comes into power. It has prevented unruly reign of dictators and reduced wars. Recently they have been able to end decades of a one-party rule. Under their current Constitution president’s can only serve 6 years which limits their control. Also, under the Constitution the government cannot change previously established laws without following a process. “Article 72, Section f, of the Constitution reads that in the interpretation, repeal, or change of any law, the amendment procedure must follow the same process as was followed when the provision was originally adopted.” (Majeed, Watts, and Brown, 2005, p. 183) Under this ideology institutions such as the Supreme Court and Congress now play a part in decision making and passing policies. “The rationale for a division of power is to keep government as close to the people as possible.” (Magstadt, 2014, p. 74) Political parties are beginning to work together for the common good of the people. Reforms have been instituted for taxes, electoral laws, pensions, etc.
The current society continues to grow under democratic rule as non-governmental organizations form to restore security and rights of the people. Of recent, the Federal Freedom of Information Act was passed which allows for transparency and government accountability. Mexico has overcome many barriers and hardships to become the country they are today. Although they are still developing, they have made great strides in the progress of their nation.
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