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The Making of the Mexican Border

The Making of the Mexican Border: The State, Capitalism, and Society in Nuevo León, 1848-1910

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    The Making of the Mexican Border
    Book Description:

    The issues that dominate U.S.-Mexico border relations today-integration of economies, policing of boundaries, and the flow of workers from south to north and of capital from north to south-are not recent developments. In this insightful history of the state of Nuevo León, Juan Mora-Torres explores how these processes transformed northern Mexico into a region with distinct economic, political, social, and cultural features that set it apart from the interior of Mexico.

    Mora-Torres argues that the years between the establishment of the U.S.-Mexico boundary in 1848 and the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution in 1910 constitute a critical period in Mexican history. The processes of state-building, emergent capitalism, and growing linkages to the United States transformed localities and identities and shaped class formations and struggles in Nuevo León. Monterrey emerged as the leading industrial center and home of the most powerful business elite, while the countryside deteriorated economically, politically, and demographically. By 1910, Mora-Torres concludes, the border states had already assumed much of their modern character: an advanced capitalist economy, some of Mexico's most powerful business groups, and a labor market dependent on massive migrations from central Mexico.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79894-6
    Subjects: History, Business

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Boundaries are points of contact between nations. This does not mean that all neighboring nations are equal in military and economic terms. In one of his most famous quotes, Porfirio Díaz summarized the power that the United States had manifested overMexico: “PoorMexico, so far from God and so near to the United States.” Díaz, the ruler of Mexico from 1876 to 1910, meant that whether Mexicans wanted to or not, and for better or worse, Mexico could not escape from the shadow of its northern neighbor. At least since 1848 (and more precisely since the independence of Texas in 1836),...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The Significance of 1848
    (pp. 11-51)

    The imposition of the Río Bravo (Grande) as the boundary between Mexico and the United States was so extraordinary in its transformative powers that it marked at once an end and a beginning in the history of northern Mexico. It represented the beginning of the end of the frontier’s isolation from the rest of both Mexico and the United States, changing almost overnight the life of all people who had been inhabiting and contesting this vast region. The new boundary established a clear line between two societies heading down two completely distinct paths of development. The frontier had not been...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Taming of the Periphery, 1867–1890
    (pp. 52-84)

    A poet described relations between the postindependence Mexican state and society: “mandar no sabe, obedecer no quiere” (the state does not know how to command, and the people do not wish to obey).¹ From the defeat of Maximilian in 1867 until the mid-1880s, the caudillos of northern Mexico represented a major roadblock to the unification of Mexico for two reasons. First, the weakness of the Mexican state had permitted northern caudillos such as Ignacio Pesqueira of Sonora, Luis Terrazas of Chihuahua, Severano Canales of Tamaulipas, and Gerónimo Treviño of Nuevo León to consolidate their cacicazgos (local fiefdoms). As long as...

  7. CHAPTER THREE City and Countryside, 1890–1910
    (pp. 85-125)

    No other city in Mexico is more closely identified with industry than the “sultan of the north,” as Monterrey came to be known. Monterrey has been the object of many studies, ranging from works examining the origins of industrialization and the formation of capitalists to sociological analyses of modern class relations.¹ The large quantity of literature about Monterrey (compared to studies on the rest of the state) reflects the importance scholars have given to the city. This chapter compares the development of capitalism in Monterrey with the economic stagnation of the countryside from 1890 to 1910 and explores the origins...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Nuevo León and the Making of the Border Labor Market, 1890–1910
    (pp. 126-165)

    Governor Bernardo Reyes claimed that he did not know much about economics except that labor and capital constituted two of the basic elements for economic development.¹ In general, historical studies on Nuevo León have traditionally focused on the capital side of this equation, implicitly giving the captains of industry credit for the emergence of Monterrey as the industrial capital of Mexico. For the most part, historians have neglected the labor side of the equation, including relations between laborers and employers.² This chapter attempts to fill in some of the gaps in these accounts by concentrating on the interactions between labor...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE The Crisis of the Countryside and Public Policy in the Late Porfiriato
    (pp. 166-191)

    Capitalism had evolved unevenly in Nuevo León from 1890 to 1910. It triumphed in Monterrey but, in contrast, made only minor headway in the countryside. Monterrey, also known as the sultana del norte, held less than one-fourth of Nuevo León’s population, but produced over 80 percent of the state’s physical output. A first impression of the Nuevoleonese countryside would have suggested social stability and economic growth, albeit at a slower pace than in the city. The many peasant communities coexisted with haciendas. The value of agricultural products increased from 4.5 million pesos to almost 6 million pesos from 1903 to...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Class, Culture, and Politics in Monterrey, 1890–1910
    (pp. 192-233)

    Although Monterrey had a three-hundred-year history by the turn of the twentieth century, the city had outworn its ancient rags, having been transformed from a declining commercial town after 1890 into the industrial center of Mexico and producing 13.5 percent of the total industrial output of the nation on the eve of the Mexican Revolution. The operation of the smelters, textile factories, steel mill, brewery, and the many other enterprises at the base of this industrial output required a complex organization of technological, human, and capital resources. Ores from the mining centers of Mexico were needed to operate the smelters;...

    (pp. 234-270)

    This chapter examines the Cuauhtémoc Brewery and the Compañía Fundidora de Fierro y Acero de Monterrey, the two firms that represented the pillars of Monterrey’s industrial development. These firms were among the largest in Mexico, giving rise to industrial groups whose economic and political influence molded not only the city but the region during the late Porfiriato and most of the twentieth century. The Garzas and Sadas of the Brewery and Adolfo Prieto of the Fundidora were known not only as leading entrepreneurs but as important political actors. The Garzas and Sadas headed the Grupo Monterrey, the most combative postrevolutionary...

  12. Epilogue
    (pp. 271-274)

    In this age of the globalization of economies, labor, information, and cultures, Mexico and the United States provide numerous examples relevant to the current debates about the future role of the nation-state. Many of these debates center on the issues of mass migration of labor from the “periphery” of capitalism (Mexico) to its “core” (the United States) as well as the unrestricted movement of capital between the two. In particular, the contradictions created by the intense push for greater economic integration between the two nations in the midst of efforts to control the massive emigration (both legal and unauthorized) of...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 275-320)
  14. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 321-332)
  15. Index
    (pp. 333-346)