Some topics to hit… Economic reforms Election reforms U.S. – Mexico Relations Drug War Immigration
Mexico’s Economic Crash Mexico’s economy heavily dependent on oil production in the 1970’s. Oil prices crashed in the 1980’s, taking the Mexican economy and large Mexican oil companies such as Pemex with it.
Economic recovery Economic policy in Mexico aims to recover and modernize after economic crises in the 1980’s Cuts in government spending – President Miguel de la Madrid slashed spending to combat Mexico’s $107 billion debt Privatization – Presidents de la Madrid and Salinas privatized public enterprises (for example, state-owned steel company Altos Hornos de México) and encouraged foreign investments
GATT and NAFTA General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) – Mexico joins in 1986 to promote free international trade North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – Signed by Mexico in 1994 with Canada and U.S. to eliminate tariffs and reduce restrictions to promote foreign investment
NAFTA (cont) Whether NAFTA hurt Mexico or benefitted it is debated. Real income increased in Mexico as a result, but cheap exports from the U.S. hurt Mexican farmers
Election reform Mexican politics used to be known for vote buying and other forms of electoral fraud The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) dominated Mexican politics for 71 years The de la Madrid administration raised the number of proportional seats in the Chamber of Deputies in 1986 from 100 to 200 to encourage opposition to the PRI.
Election reform (cont) Since then, the PRI has steadily lost power (losing the presidency to Vicente Fox in 2000) until it regained the presidency with the election of Enrique Peña Nieto in 2012 Vicente Fox
IFE and TRIFE Two organizations, the Instituto Federal Electoral (IFE) and Tribunal Federal Electoral (TRIFE), were established under President Salinas to regulate elections IFE- in charge of civics training, election observation, and overseeing national political parties. TRIFE – settles disputes regarding results and validity of elections Ruled in 2006 in the contested Obrador vs. Calderón election, certifying Calderón as the victor
Drug Trade Multiple drug cartels such as the Sinoloa and Los Zetas cartels clash violently over smuggling routes into the U.S. President Calderón initiates the “War on Drugs” in 2006 by sending 6,500 Mexican troops to combat drug related violence in the Michoacán region
More on the drug war Now 45,000 troops involved in anti-drug operations Tens of thousands arrested on suspicion of involvement in drug trafficking each year (11,544 in 2011) Mérida Initiative (2008) – partnership with the U.S. to combat drug trafficking (U.S. provides funding, equipment, and training) Many argue that this has made things worse as violence has steadily risen and cartels have found new ways to spread fear such as broadcasting executions on Youtube.
Emigration Illegal immigration to the United States is a concern for both countries. Mexican government typically looks down upon harsh penalties for Mexican citizens caught immigrating illegally like mass deportations
Policy Challenges Economic: Highly unequal income distribution Public education system in need of improvement 51.3% of population below poverty line Other: Rampant organized crime Acute environmental problems