Revolution Ends, Change Begins – October 26th 2000

Mexico is a country that has been populated for more than two millennia. Far more current is their recent history as it has become extremely interesting. The Economist article, “Revolution Ends, Change Begins,” is about the Mexicans finally voting out the Institutional Revolutionary Party. But the issue they now face is making the transition out of the one-party dictatorship, into a democratic future. On July 2, 2000 the PRI, or Institutional Revolutionary Party, the Mexican people voted not for the PRI, but instead for conservative National Action Party (PAN) after seventy one years of power. Now why is that interesting? “It will be the first time in the country’s long history of ancient kingdoms, colonialism, civil war, dictatorship and revolution that one regime has given way to another peacefully.” (Revolution Ends, 2000)

A lot more has changed in their long history. In 1929 the population was two-thirds rural and in the year 2000 the population is nearly three-quarters urban and has increased six fold. As we learn in the Article, from 1945-2000 “the [Mexican] economy has gone from being state-dominated and protectionist to being one of the most open in Latin America. Mexico is the world’s eighth largest exporter (counting the European Union as one) and the United States’ second biggest trading partner after Canada.” (Revolution Ends, 2000) At this point in Mexico’s history they are looked at in a higher light from the other Latin American countries. They have stabilized their economic crises and look to achieve growth of seven percent, their inflation will be less than expected and their deficit will only be 3% of GDP.

The article goes on to say, Moody’s gave Mexico an investment-grade rating for the first time in their history. At this point Mexico is looking like they are going to really turn things around. Beyond all the positive signs are some really concrete changes that are putting Mexico in the right place for a strong economic future. For instance, Mexico now has institutions it did not have a decade ago, “such as a competition agency and a human-rights commission. Others, such as the courts, the central bank and the electoral authorities, have become more independent. The press no longer has to take its cue from the government, and can be vocal, if variable in quality.” (Revolution Ends, 2000) The reason why the change in political party is so ground breaking and important has a lot to do with the history of the PRI.

The PRI was traced back to Plutarco Elias Calles when he formed the party as a means to coordinate and organize the smaller political parties. The PRI slowly grew as Mexico grew and worked its way into trade unions, peasant groups, youth movements and almost everything else. They used their deep pockets to influence people and decisions in their own best interest. They “bought the peasants’ eternal gratitude by breaking up huge plantations and handing out millions of small tracts of land. Instead of censoring the press, it kept newspapers afloat with cheap newsprint, floods of government advertising, and generous gifts to journalists. It was the greatest patron of the arts. Sometimes it even funded opposition political parties, both to give its critics a little space to vent their feelings, and to make sure they stayed divided.

Its rule was based on collaboration, not coercion. Only when all else failed did it resorts to electoral fraud.” (Revolution Ends, 2000) Because of all of this, Mexico was essentially a dictatorship which looked like a democracy. Now that the PRI is leaving office what does it mean for the future of Mexico? Unfortunately it is going to be a slow recovery. The shell of an economy is still riddled with corruption and growth isn’t evenly spread across the country. Those that prospered under the PRI now find themselves owing extreme sums of money in back taxes and responsible for finding legal means to achieve the same ends. The plantations that were split for the peasants are now an agricultural disaster because the Mexican farmers need to compete with foreign economies of scale. With that being said, the writer of this article is still very optimistic for Mexico’s future.

Point 1: Change in People

The first point that I saw the writing making is the one that the Mexican voters see a need for a change in their government. They recognized that the PRI and the practices they were using were unfit. More importantly, the Mexican men and women took off their blinders and saw the dictator that was controlling their country. “A record turnout of younger and female voters delivered a surprisingly large margin of victory for Fox. The ruling party’s candidate, Francisco Labastida, swiftly conceded defeat. He stated, ‘the citizens have made a decision that we should respect, and I’ll set the example myself.’” (Online News Hour, 2000) At this point in Mexico’s history it is very clear that the Mexican people want change and the younger generation rocked the vote to achieve that.

Point 2: Population Growth

The second important point I saw in this article was a mention of the population growth of the Mexican people. Ever since the United States government took much of what is now western US from Mexico, they Mexican government has seen reproduction as an important part of their culture. After doing more research I found that the idea of having a large family has been ingrained in the Mexican people as far back as 1929. (Mexico Population, 2013) The increased number of adolescences and the declining elderly population was a huge influence on the change in leadership. The youth of Mexico didn’t have the patience or respect for the way things used to be.

Point 3: Economic Growth

According to the Economist, the Mexican Economy will have some struggles but eventually prosper. The author of this article clearly hedged his bets when he/she gave the economic futures of Mexico. On one hand they cited an increased economic growth of 7%, but on the other hand they explained all of the short coming they would have to overcome in order to succeed. It was important that they mentioned the growth rate because that gives us something to measure up to. All in all the economy, at this point in time, looks like it will continue to grow with its new leader.

Point 4: Failure of the PRI

Easily the most documented point of this article is the failure and removal of the PRI. Due to the seventy one year dictatorship, the country finally saw the errors of its ways and voted the PRI out. They realized the flaws in the decisions of its government and finally took action. It’s also worth mentioning that because the government was trying to appear as a democracy they were slowly chipping away at their own dictatorship. Each time they allowed their competition to vent their views and shed some light on the corruption they empowered the people to rise against them.

Point 5: Fraud and Corruption

The final point I chose to focus on was that of fraud and corruption. Since it was such a rampant issue for the majority of Mexico’s past and present, I wanted to document it so that we can compare later. In 2000, during this election and prior to it, nearly every transaction had some sort of corruption associated with it. Seats in their government could be bought, trade could be restricted and people could disappear without much attention. Clearly at this point corruption played a huge part in how and why the PRI maintained and later lost their place in the government. (Hill, 2011)