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The Mexican Government Today

The Mexican Government Today

William P. Tucker
Copyright Date: 1957
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 496
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  • Book Info
    The Mexican Government Today
    Book Description:

    The Mexican Government Today was first published in 1957. In spite of the fact that Mexico is our nearest Latin American neighbor and is of substantial importance to the United States politically and commercially, no general treatise on Mexico’s government and politics has been available until now. This book, therefore, fills a real need, both for college students of the subject and for businesspeople, foreign service officials, and others who need accurate, up-to-date information about Mexico. As J. Lloyd Mecham, professor of government at the University of Texas, points out, this is “a sound and comprehensive book which will add greatly to our understanding of the Mexican government.” Professor Tucker describes all the important aspects of the national government’s structure and functions and shows how the Mexican national government resembles and differs from our own. He also discusses the government of the Mexican states, the localities, and the Federal District (which corresponds to our District of Columbia). Broader in scope than most textbooks on the government of a foreign country, the volume includes material on the institutional history and the social and economic life of the country. There are sections of several chapters each on public utilities and public works, agriculture, and social services, as well as an introductory section which sketches the background of the land and its people. In a summary chapter the author evaluates the progress of the Mexican government and society as a developing democracy which borrows important features from other countries and also makes interesting contributions of its own.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6473-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    William P. Tucker
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)

    • 1 Land, People, and Economy
      (pp. 3-9)

      Mexico is tritely but truly called a land of contrasts. Mountains, jungles, deserts, lakes, rivers, all combine to produce a variety of everything in the physical make-up of this horn-shaped land. “Lush, barren, cragged, flat, solemn, capricious, gnarled, slashed, smoothed, and painted, the landscape of Mexico unfolds like the shuffling of thousand of colored postcards, none the same, all extremes.”¹

      The greater part of Mexico comprises a V-shaped plateau, broad at the north, narrowing and rising toward the south. To the east and the west, the heartland is flanked by the parallel ranges of the Sierra Madre. The southern edge...

    • 2 History
      (pp. 10-23)

      Few countries have had a more colorful history than Mexico; and the sense of history is strong among her educated people.¹ Mexico’s history can be approached in several ways. One meaningful approach is the division into four broad periods. The first is the precolonial era of native civilizations. Then come the three centuries of colonial rule. The third is the century of revolutions, painfully establishing a stable representative government. The fourth is the past quarter-century of peaceful national progress.

      When the Spaniards came to Mexico, they found a wide range of native cultures. The central plateau, under the uneasy rule...

    • 3 Church and State
      (pp. 24-40)

      The Catholic Church has played such a prominent role in Mexican history and public life that an understanding of the role of the Church is essential to an understanding of Mexican politics and government. In this overwhelmingly Catholic country, clericalism and anticlericalism have been powerful strands in the fabric of the nation’s history. The close and vital relations of Church and state during the colonial regime are too well known to require retelling.

      As Mecham has shown,¹ the country’s first independent government was established “under clerical auspices,” after the prelates of the Church had condemned earlier struggles for independences as...

    • 4 Parties and Politics
      (pp. 41-70)

      In Mexico, the land of contrasts, it is significant that the two most important forces in public life are nonofficial organizations — the Church and the “official” political party.* In the last chapter we saw what an important role the Church has played in Mexican history. The Church’s frequent adversary, the government, has sometimes appeared hard to distinguish from the official political party, the machinery which puts the government in power and keeps it there. Mexicangovernmenthas been, to a considerable degree,party politics.Therefore, Mexican government can be understood only after the role of the party has been...


    • 5 The Constitutional System
      (pp. 73-90)

      The Mexican government is said by one of its leading commentators to be a representative, democratic federal republic in which the people participate in the sovereignly only through elected officials. The Constitution is regarded as the supreme law of the land.¹ Its broad outlines are similar to those of the U.S. Constitution. Mexico regards her regime as constitutional because it operates under the detailed Constitution of 1917; as republican, since sovereignty is said to rest ultimately with the people; as representative, because popular control is indirect; as a democratic, because of the role of the electorate; as federal, because of...

    • 6 The Congress
      (pp. 91-101)

      The Mexican Congress¹ is similar in structure to that of the United States, and its constitutional position is also similar — but much less strong. The strength of the Congress is limited by the constitutional power of the President and by the very great political power of that office.

      The official name of the legislative body has varied, but it has always included the wordcongressin its title. The Constitution of 1824 provided for a two-house body, a Chamber of Deputies and a Chamber of Senators. The Constitution of 1857 established a unicameral body, a Chamber of Deputies, which...

    • 7 The Presidency
      (pp. 102-110)

      The real concentration of power and influence in Mexico is in the office of the President. Tannenbaum, a close observer of long standing, goes so far as to say, “The President is the government, and all discussion of Mexican politics must assume that fact.” He feels that the tripartite division of powers is still much more form than substantial reality, that “the alternative to highly centralized power is anarchy.”¹ There is some difference of opinion among investigators on the relative balance of authority between President and Congress in the text of the Constitution; but there is little disagreement about the...

    • 8 The Judiciary
      (pp. 111-120)

      Under the separation of powers principle, the judiciary¹ has been a separate branch of government since the country won its independence. The colonial courts had been a maze of separate tribunals. The structural appearance of the court system reflects some American influence, as does procedure; but in general the Spanish influence has been predominant. A debate (mainly academic) has existed over whether or not the judiciary comprises a third “power” comparable to the legislative and executive powers; but the reality until recently has been one of executive predominance over the other two powers.²

      During the Cárdenas era, the Supreme Court...

    • 9 Public Administration
      (pp. 121-137)

      As modern life becomes more complex, more problems must be by organized effort. Government is called upon to meet much of this challenge; and the administrative aspect of government work becomes increasingly important. The following chapter will first consider the administrative organization, then the civil service.

      Basic political and governmental institutions have changed slowly in Mexico. Even the 1917 Revolution did not lead to many basic constitutional structural replacements. When the Castilians reached New Spain, they found an advanced aboriginal civilization in the Valley of Mexico. An Indian king was head of the public administration, aided by a numerous nobility,...

    • 10 Administration and Its Improvement
      (pp. 138-148)

      In considering the President as the head of the administration, I must repeat the fact that in considerable measure he is still the government, supported by the dominant official party with its principal constituent interest groups. This is still true, even though the movement toward institutionalizing governmental power has been slowly developing since the days of President Cárdenas.

      Executive leadership. Cárdenas developed the power and functions of the executive office as no President had since 1917, while trying to institutionalize governmental power. New departments, nationalized industries, and growing budgets were included in the extensive reforms of the first Six-Year Plan....

    • 11 Public Finance
      (pp. 149-170)

      The problems of public finance comprise a most important part of government. This is especially true of a country like Mexico, in which the government plays such an important and growing role in the economy. Mexican public finance will be considered first in terms of expenditures and then in terms of revenue.

      Government expenditures (in pesos) increased some nineteen-fold between 1928 and 1955. In recent years nearly nine tenths of all public spending has been by the central government; and about 40 per cent of all capital investment, public and private, is by government.¹

      General considerations. While it is difficult...


    • 12 The Ministry of Government
      (pp. 173-181)

      The possibility of grouping together the Ministries of Government, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Marine is reasonable for study, despite a possible first impression that the fields of work are unrelated. The Ministry of Government is the foremost cabinet post; and it has important relationships with the other agencies, though most of its work deals with domestic affairs. The Ministries of Defense and Marine perform important functions in the field of domestic affairs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs obviously has a field of work almost exclusively “foreign”; but its work has an important impact on that of the other ministries, especially...

    • 13 Foreign Relations
      (pp. 182-191)

      The Ministry of Foreign Relations deals mainly with foreign affairs, although some of its functions — like naturalization and alien property ownership — are mainly domestic in character. Its principal “action” organizations are the diplomatic and the consular services.¹ Naturally, the Ministry was among the first agencies established by the first independent government in 1821, when the functions of Foreign Relations and Interior were combined in the same ministry. It has been a separate ministry since 1836. Its organization and functions are similar to those of the U.S. Department of State.

      The Bureau of Diplomatic Service deals with political, cultural,...

    • 14 Defense
      (pp. 192-197)

      The role of the military in Mexican public life has always been important, and until recent years usually preponderant.¹ For long the army was in a real sense the government; and the foremost military leader became President. Recent years have seen the steady withdrawal of the military from the affairs of civil government. Today, the role of the army includes much work of a welfare or public service character, such as flood control work, road-building, disaster relief, reforestation, etc.

      Constitutionally, the President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He appoints and removes the War and Marine ministers; appoints the...

    • 15 Government’s Positive Economic Role
      (pp. 198-224)

      The broad role of all government is advancement of human welfare; and in Mexico the avowed special aim is raising the standard of living of the masses of the people, a goal slowly being attained. It is a difficult task for an underdeveloped country with modest resources to effect a rapid industrialization through domestic capital accumulation and simultaneously raise consumption standards; and the second gives ground to the first.

      In this forced march of progress, government plays an important role, both negative and positive. Private property, says the Constitution (Art. 27), is a thing that society creates; so the government...


    • 16 Communications
      (pp. 227-244)

      The means of transportation and communication are of the foremost importance to a country — for both its government and its economy. Efficient modern government of a country is necessarily based on its transport-communications network. Such a network is necessary for a government to maintain its rule. The economic necessity for such a network is too obvious to require comment. And government’s role in transportation-communication is basic — as promoter, proprietor, or both.

      A country’s size, topography, products, population density and distribution, and economic development influence and are influenced by its means of transportation. These elements have conspired against Mexico...

    • 17 Electrification
      (pp. 245-250)

      One of the government’s most important roles in the field of public utilities is in electrification, because the country’s advancement —both industrially and agriculturally —rests largely on the basis of electric power. Mexico’s coal reserves are not too favorable for metallurgy because of their distance from the iron ores. And coal’s relative contribution to mechanical energy has declined in the past two decades, while that of electrical energy has been increasing.

      Mexico’s hydroelectric potential is important —an estimated seven million horsepower; and only about 8 per cent of the estimated potential has been harnessed. But developing this potential will call...

    • 18 Oil
      (pp. 251-258)

      The petroleum industry is a key element in the Mexican governmental picture. It is the second largest of the nationalized industries, and by far the most profitable to the government. It provides about a tenth of the government’s total tax yield, which is more than half of all mineral taxes. Oil is the basis of transportation, and the output of natural gas is of growing importance to industry.

      History.¹Petroleum was used for medicinal and specialized purposes by the Aztecs. Minor efforts were made at oil drilling and exploitation between 1876 and 1900, but with scant results. British and American...

    • 19 Public Works and the Public Utility Program
      (pp. 259-266)

      In earlier chapters I have considered the separate programs dealing with railways, highways, civil aviation, postal and telecommunications services, electrification, and oil. In a later chapter irrigation works will be discussed in connection with agricultural development. In this chapter I will consider the broad outlines of the public works program and important aspects of the program, such as maritime works, the valley authorities, housing, and miscellaneous construction.

      General features.¹ The Alemán administration spent nearly $400 million on public works in its six-year term, and it left unfinished a program of nearly half that amount. Thus, most of the first year’s...


    • 20 Agricultural History and Problems
      (pp. 269-294)

      Mexico is a rural country, only recently beginning to industrialize. Some of her most serious problems stem from the physical environment, for Mexico is not a rich country and her physical resources are not well distributed. Therefore, economic, political, and military struggles have usually been closely related to the problem of land, its distribution and use. The lives of most of the people have been bound to the land; so the rural problem is an important and complex one for government.

      History to 1910.¹Current land legislation and administration can be properly understood only with its antecedents in mind. Mexico’s...

    • 21 Government in Agriculture
      (pp. 295-306)

      As indicated earlier, agricultural matters are the concern of a number of different agencies, as is also the case in the United States. The principal ones are the Ministry of Agriculture and Stockraising, the Agrarian Department, the Ministry of Hydraulic Resources, the National Agricultural Credit Bank, and the National Ejido Credit Bank. Three decentralized commodity agencies are of importance: the National Commission on Coffee, the National Commission on Corn, and the National Commission on Olives. The regional commissions on the Papaloapán and the Tepalcatepec have been discussed, as has the work of the National Colonization Commission. The work of the...


    • 22 Government and Labor
      (pp. 309-328)

      Labor relations are important in the Mexican governmental scene because of the extensive protection the law gives to labor and the active and influential role that organized labor has played in Mexican political life (see Chapter 4). From a status of repression before the Revolution of 1910, labor soon rose to a position of privilege and protection. In general, governments have supported labor, and labor has been a pillar of support for governments.

      Early years.¹ Mexico’s backward industrial development in the nineteenth century gave little incentive to the development of an organized labor movement. One of the few unions of...

    • 23 Social Security, Health, and Welfare
      (pp. 329-349)

      In a country like Mexico, with a rapidly growing population and a relatively low per-capita income, the need for a broad program of welfare, health, and social security coverage is obvious. The program that Mexico has been developing ranks high among those of Latin America, providing protection against work-connected accidents and illnesses, nonoccupational ills, maternity needs, some other direct health services, and insurance and assistance protections against invalidity, death, and old-age retirement.¹

      History. The need for social insurance became evident as industrialization developed after 1910. This sentiment was reflected in Article 123 of the 1917 Constitution, which declared that the...

    • 24 Education
      (pp. 350-374)

      It is have to rank in importance the many pressing problems of Mexico I have discussed to this point — health, agricultural reform and improvement, industrialization, transportation, and so on. But one of the most basic long-term problems is education,¹ for education can furnish the fundamental knowledge and skills for improving the other aspects of national life. This was recognized by the abler leaders of the Revolution who produced such slogans as “Land and Liberty,” “Land and Books,” “To Educate is to Redeem,” “To Educate is to Govern.” The first part of this chapter traces the main patterns of progress;...


    • 25 State Government
      (pp. 377-390)

      The Mexican federal republic is divided into twenty-nine states, territories, and the Federal District. The organization of the majority of the states dates from the early years of independence; but the newest state, Baja California, was admitted in 1952–53. As indicated earlier, the forms of state government and the relationships of the central government to the state governments are similar to those in the United States; but the powers of the Mexican states are much weaker.

      The Mexican states present a picture of great and numerous differences, which produce great differences in the scope and effectiveness of their governments.¹...

    • 26 Local Government
      (pp. 391-408)

      Urban communities have played an important role in Mexican history, a role greatly out of proportion to their share of the country’s population. The current process of rapid industrialization and urbanization underlines the growing importance of the cities. Despite their inherent importance in Mexican life, cities have been the stepchildren in the governmental scene — usually underprivileged and ignored.

      Environment. Despite the importance of cities and other truly urban communities, their numbers are not large. This fact is indicated by the figures for the first three types of community listed in the accompanying table. The other seven types give a...

    • 27 The Federal District and the Territories
      (pp. 409-416)

      In mexico, all roads lead to the capital of the country; for the Federal District is the political and governmental center of the nation. Moreover, it is the economic, industrial, educational, social, and cultural center of Mexico. In these ways it resembles the capital cities of many other Latin American countries. Its influence is all-pervasive. Other areas are satellites of greater or lesser magnitude, held in their orbits by the central sun.

      The Constitution provided (Art. 44) that the Federal District would have the area existing in 1917 (some 573 square miles); and “in case the federal powers should be...


    • 28 A Developing Democracy
      (pp. 419-424)

      Mexico can be regarded as a developing democracy because of its representative governmental structure and its recent progress in the direction of responsibility to the people. The Mexican democratic ideals have been well known since the Revolution — ideals of freedom, justice, human dignity, social welfare, representative government, well-known goals of American and European liberalism and social democracy. The achievements along these lines have varied greatly.

      First should be mentioned personal freedom. As Whetten has said, this “is probably the greatest achievement of the Mexican Revolution. In the long run, this may prove important enough to counterbalance whatever mistakes may...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 427-465)
  13. Index
    (pp. 466-484)