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Made in Mexico

Made in Mexico: Regions, Nation, and the State in the Rise of Mexican Industrialism, 1920s–1940s

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Made in Mexico
    Book Description:

    The experiment with neoliberal market-oriented economic policy in Latin America, popularly known as the Washington Consensus, has run its course. With left-wing and populist regimes now in power in many countries, there is much debate about what direction economic policy should be taking, and there are those who believe that state-led development might be worth trying again. Susan Gauss’s study of the process by which Mexico transformed from a largely agrarian society into an urban, industrialized one in the two decades following the end of the Revolution is especially timely and may have lessons to offer to policy makers today. The image of a strong, centralized corporatist state led by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) from the 1940s conceals what was actually a prolonged, messy process of debate and negotiation among the postrevolutionary state, labor, and regionally based industrial elites to define the nationalist project. Made in Mexico focuses on the distinctive nature of what happened in the four regions studied in detail: Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey, and Puebla. It shows how industrialism enabled recalcitrant elites to maintain a regionally grounded preserve of local authority outside of formal ruling-party institutions, balancing the tensions among centralization, consolidation of growth, and Mexico’s deep legacies of regional authority.

    eISBN: 978-0-271-05526-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. 1-23)

    On October 21, 1952, President Miguel Alemán (1946–52) enacted a decree mandating that all clothing manufactured for domestic consumption carry a label stating “Hecho en México” and giving the product’s region and factory of origin.¹ The provenance of the “Hecho en México” decree dated to 1927, when officials and producers perceived a crisis of consumer confidence in domestic goods.² Officials in 1952 cited quality and consistency problems when explaining consumer preference for imported goods. However, industrialists offered other explanations. Leaders of the National Chamber of Manufacturing Industry (Càmara Nacional de la Industria de Transformación, CANACINTRA), dominated by consumer manufacturers...

    (pp. 24-52)

    With the full force of economic depression bearing down on Mexico by 1931, officials implored producers to do their part to salvage the Mexican economy and ensure national welfare. They even imagined a manifesto targeting the business community: “When managers realize that it is necessary to employ virility, courage, energy, and intelligence to lead their businesses, then we will save our national industry.”¹ These were to be a new generation of revolutionary businessmen—brave, virile, energetic, smart—whose superior aptitudes and masculine attributes privileged their role in national reconstruction. This rhetoric recalled the competences conferred on Porfirian elites by positivists...

  7. 2 “JALISCO, OPEN YOUR ARMS TO INDUSTRY”: Industrialism and Regional Authority in Guadalajara in the 1930s and 1940s
    (pp. 53-93)

    In the mid-1930s, citing article 33 of the 1917 Constitution, President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–40) tried to expel from Mexico foreign-born entrepreneur Enrique Anisz, a successful Jaliscan alcohol merchant, on the grounds that he engaged in activities destructive to the nation.¹ When Anisz soon after learned of President Cárdenas’s failed efforts to buy land from a Texas businessman on which to develop the Hidroeléctrica de Chapala, the merchant saw an opportunity. He offered to broker the land deal and leave the alcohol trade if he could remain in Mexico. President Cárdenas and his secretary of the Treasury and Public Credit,...

  8. 3 THE PASSION AND RATIONALIZATION OF MEXICAN INDUSTRIALISM: Rival Visions of State and Society in the Early 1940s
    (pp. 94-130)

    In September 1941, discontented workers from Materiales de Guerra, a government arms and munitions manufacturer, marched to President Ávila Camacho’s residence to petition for higher salaries and to lodge complaints against the company manager. With the women in front carrying flowers for the president’s wife, about two thousand workers, union members, and supporters made their way on foot from the factory to Los Pinos, the presidential mansion. Waiting at the presidential gates was a military battalion. Versions vary as to how the skirmish began, but by the end, between seven and thirty-three workers had been killed and fifteen to sixty...

  9. 4 SOWING EXCLUSION: Machinery, Labor, and Industrialist Authority in Puebla in the 1940s
    (pp. 131-168)

    According to lawyer and textile-industry investor Francisco Doria Paz, on the night of July 23, 1943, labor leader Luis Morones called him over to his table at a restaurant in Puebla where both happened to be dining. As Doria Paz later recounted the story to the Association of Textile Entrepreneurs of Puebla and Tlaxcala (Asociación de Empresarios Textiles de Puebla y Tlaxcala, AETPT), Morones proposed a toast to celebrate the recent, albeit fleeting, settlement of an extended labor dispute at the Fábrica La Trinidad. Doria Paz did not explain how things heated up, but soon, Morones and his friends, likely...

    (pp. 169-204)

    Though President Alemán took office with a pledge to promote industry through a combination of tax exemptions and tariff modifications, within seven months he had abandoned that pledge in favor of trade controls.¹ This decision was controversial, since tariffs merely deterred imports and exports, while trade quotas prohibited them. President Alemán turned to these controls in part to redress the mounting postwar trade deficit and diminishing monetary reserves. Yet, a range of political and social factors was also critical in his decision to adopt trade controls. This included a surge of economic nationalism in the wake of U.S. efforts to...

  11. 6 RECENTERING THE NATION: Industrial Liberty in Postrevolutionary Monterrey
    (pp. 205-240)

    In February 1946, Monterrey business leaders cautioned, “Currently, there is a divorce between the state government and the ‘active forces’ in the city of Monterrey.” This followed comments by the ruling-party governor Arturo de la Garza (1944–49) that condemned the “rich” businesspeople of the city.¹ The contretemps occurred a mere two months after a contentious December 1945 municipal election, in which the PRM, the PAN, and the Partido Liberal had fronted candidates. To challenge the PRM-backed Félix González Salinas, who happened to be the brother-in-law of Governor de la Garza, the Monterrey business community had supported local businessman Manuel...

    (pp. 241-248)

    By the early 1950s, statist industrialism promised to deliver not just industrial development but also cultural sovereignty, political unity, economic independence, and social change. By adapting the revolutionary possibilities of mexicanidad, President Alemán affirmed the legitimacy of ruling-party claims to be leading this regeneration of the Mexican nation through statist industrialism. Therefore, as demonstrated in the epigraph from an entreaty sent to President Alemán on May 31, 1950, many Mexicans looked to the state to achieve revolutionary vindication by fostering industry in their own communities.¹ In response to the plea, the Alemán administration ordered Yucatec officials to initiate a study...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 249-275)
  14. Index
    (pp. 276-292)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 293-293)