Show Summary Details

Page of

 PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, LATIN AMERICAN HISTORY ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2016. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. Please see applicable Privacy Policy and Legal Notice (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 26 April 2017

Mexican Politics, Economy, and Society, 1946–1982

Summary and Keywords

The years immediately following World War II constituted a watershed in Mexico’s political development: the national government, controlled by the recently renamed Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and led by a new generation of civilian professional politicians, made rapid industrialization its top priority. In a matter of decades, the nation transformed from a predominantly rural to an ever more urbanized society. Significant social and cultural changes followed. The middle classes became the dominant voice in national politics and the beneficiaries of the government’s economic policies, while earlier efforts designed to ameliorate the suffering of the majority were suspended or even reversed, leaving urban workers and the rural poor to wonder what had happened to their revolution. Gradually, a consumerist culture eclipsed the cultural revolution of the 1920s and 1930s. Despite official claims to the contrary, Mexico in this era shed its revolutionary identity and replaced it with a modernizing zeal.

Through the 1960s, scholarly assessments regarded the nation as a model of Third World development. In the estimation of foreign and domestic observers alike, the combination of aggressive capitalist development, state protectionism, and foreign investment had created an economic miracle, while the 1910 Revolution had produced a relatively benign, paternalistic form of “soft” authoritarianism. But in the years following the devastating massacre of students in 1968 at the Plaza de Tlatelolco just days before the Mexico City Summer Olympics, scholarly assessments soured. In the coming decades, more and more evidence of political violence, media manipulation, and official corruption would surface, leading to a crisis of political legitimacy that would be severely aggravated by economic crisis in 1982. For these reasons, the period from 1946 to 1982 is a distinct and important chapter in the nation’s 20th-century development.

Keywords: import-substitution industrialization, Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Mexican Miracle, corruption, Green Revolution, bracero program, 1982 debt crisis, Charrazo, Tlatelolco massacre, presidentialism, Camarilla

A Moment of Transition

The year 1946 marked a fundamental turning point in the course of Mexico’s 20th-century political development. In a rhetorical sleight of hand, the leaders of the nation’s dominant political party changed its name for the third and final time. Henceforth, the newly rebranded Institutional Revolutionary Party, more commonly known as the PRI, would monopolize both the administrative apparatus of the government and the official symbols of the 1910 Revolution. Scholars have tended to look at the party’s change in name as little more than a superficial tweak—a gesture to convey that the days of revolutionary upheaval had given way to a society that managed its political affairs through institutional means. Yet in reality, it represented a much deeper shift in the nation’s political economy in the years immediately following World War II. The same year, a new generation of political leaders, led by the young civilian lawyer Miguel Alemán (president, 1946–1952), replaced the self-made revolutionaries who had occupied the highest ranks of government for the previous thirty-five years. They represented the first of several successive waves of professional politicians, and later technocrats, who would control national politics for the remainder of the century.

In the transition from the era of World War II to the earliest phase of the Cold War, the nation’s leaders abandoned any remaining commitment to the official goals first articulated in the 1910 Revolution. At the same time, they oriented national politics in a new, rightward direction. Thus, the revolutionary efforts of the 1920s and 1930s to redistribute wealth and ameliorate poverty gave way to pro-business policies that placed highest priority on economic growth, even if that meant sacrificing the interests of the nation’s poorest ranks and submitting to foreign demands. Beyond formal politics and economic policymaking, the cultural preferences that emanated from the political establishment suggested that a new era had begun. Whereas officials in the previous period had celebrated the contributions of indigenous and mestizo citizens to the development of Mexico’s national identity,1 from the 1940s onward they placed far more emphasis on promoting bourgeois, consumerist values, especially as the urban middle sectors grew.2

A Peculiar Political System

The political system that dominated Mexico for the remainder of the century consolidated into its final form in 1946. Nonetheless, the single-party dominant system under the PRI also represented more than a decade and a half of institutional sedimentation that had begun with the creation of a semi-official revolutionary party in 1929. Its most notable feature was a corporatist, or sector-based, structure that lumped different class-based interest groups into organizations tied to the party. In their original design, the party’s organs, which came into existence during the administration of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–1940), were created to channel popular demands upward. But by the mid-1940s, the opposite had become true: the system had hardened into a pyramidal structure in which the president dictated official demands to loyal functionaries in charge of the party’s corporatist sectors.3

Mexico was not alone in adopting a corporatist approach to managing relations between government and society. Throughout the region, leaders sought to establish patron-client linkages with various social sectors, above all the urban working classes, which swelled beginning in the 1930s as the region’s biggest nations turned to mass industrialization. This statist approach to managing the affairs of organized labor, by warding off political competition and in particular by neutralizing the possibility that large communist movements might gain momentum, proved crucial to the success of leaders such as Argentina’s Juan Domingo Perón and Brazil’s Getúlio Vargas. The upside was that the masses had some official channel through which to express their grievances. The negative consequence was that this arrangement choked out any possibility of independent labor mobilization, leaving workers with few alternatives if their interests were not served.

What made Mexico unique in the Latin America picture was the extent to which its politics became bureaucratized. Beginning in 1929, the PRI and its institutional predecessors ruled continuously for seventy-one years. From 1934 onward, presidents were elected in increasingly predictable and choreographed electoral rituals every six years, with none ever serving twice. In their campaigns, the leaders of the PRI continued to utilize the same stale revolutionary language, paying homage to the same pantheon of great revolutionary leaders and claiming ownership of a heritage that really was not theirs. The level of bureaucracy could be frustrating for people who wanted quick solutions to their problems. It also proved remarkably consistent: as the Cold War years waxed on, Mexico experienced few of the political ebbs and swells common to much of the region, and most notably evaded imposition by the armed forces. Thus there were no junior officers’ revolts like those that brought Perón and Vargas to power, no petty dictators like Nicaragua’s Somoza dynasty or the Dominican Republic’s Rafael Trujillo, no controversial socialist crusader like Chile’s Salvador Allende, no guerrilla-turned-president like Cuba’s Fidel Castro, no generalissimo like Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, no brutal military juntas like those in Argentina and Brazil. Mexican politics had its share of colorful personalities, to be sure, but while iconic leaders often personified the rest of the region’s power structures, the primary symbol of power in Mexico was the tri-color banner of the PRI.4

Despite the importance of the PRI in symbolizing and structuring national political affairs, it is crucial to understand it in relation to the federal government and its bureaucracy. Mexico’s national government and ruling party were far more distinct than other single-party systems in the 20th century. While political scientists in the mid-20th century debated the exact division of authority between party and government, it is generally accepted that the party represented more of an instrument or facilitator of power than a power structure itself. Instead, Mexico’s system under the PRI is generally described as having been highly presidentialist. Even if the president did not possess absolute, dictatorial power, the major decision-making authority rested in Los Pinos (the presidential residence). The party became the glue the held the system together, providing national authorities a means by which to distribute patronage and co-opt potential opponents, ranging from dissatisfied laborers to critical intellectuals.5

Mexico’s presidentialist system developed gradually in the decades following the end of revolutionary violence in 1920. In the 1920s and 1930s, power was far more decentralized. Regional strongmen, known as caciques, along with various governors, frustrated presidential initiatives (Cárdenas, for instance, dealt with both during his agrarian reform). But from the 1940s onward, governors found themselves sacked if they did not demonstrate sufficient discipline, and the nation’s bicameral legislature was correctly known as a rubber-stamp institution that existed to reward or placate on an as-needed basis. The inner circle of the president, known as his camarilla, or clique, became the nucleus of national power.

Political advancement thus required careful placement of one’s loyalties, along with a high measure of luck. If inter-camarilla competition was the most visible form of political conflict, intra-camarilla relations were anything but harmonious, as presidential allies competed for top cabinet spots that would position them for the presidency. In the era of the PRI, every president came from the cabinet, and through the 1970s, the Ministry of the Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación) was the most common pathway (this changed in the 1980s and 1990s, during the so-called Neoliberal era; in that period, presidents tended to come from the Ministry of Budget and Planning). The coveted position of interior minister held considerable authority over crucial areas, including national intelligence, security, immigration, and policing. In sum, by the 1940s, the nation had undergone twin bureaucratization processes—the consolidation of a top-down presidentialist government and the construction of a corporatist governing party—that would define its politics for decades. That system has fascinated scholars and provoked debate ever since.

Through the 1960s, assessments of the nation’s political system tended to characterize it as a desirable hybrid of authoritarian and democratic tendencies. Prevailing interpretations asserted that the PRI’s authoritarian streak was balanced by the willingness of officials to negotiate and bargain, along with a bureaucratic apparatus that promoted co-optation and an encouraging level of popular consent and participation. The result, according to this line of reasoning, was a system that promoted political incorporation more than genuine democracy, and that took a firm hand with unwelcome dissent (usually labeled as communism at the height of Cold War paranoia) without committing the most troubling sorts of human rights abuses common to other authoritarian regimes seen elsewhere in the 20th century.6

Political leaders, economic elites, scholars, and journalists, in their emphasis on the peculiar nature of the Mexican system, developed a narrative of historical exceptionalism. Some adopted the language of a Pax PRIísta. Historian Howard Cline claimed that the nation had seamlessly moved from revolution to evolution.7 Over time scholars began to account for the more repressive aspects of the regime, and have found more and more in common between Mexico and the rest of Latin America. Nevertheless, the terminologies now employed still give some tacit nod to the exceptional nature of the nation’s political system. Perhaps the most famous characterization came from Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, who, in a now famous 1990 debate with Mexican essayist and poet Octavio Paz, cynically called the single-party system the “perfect dictatorship.” Another prominent scholar reminds us that the PRI created the “world’s most successful authoritarian regime,” while some of the best new work borrows from Spain the idea of a “dictablanda,” or “soft authoritarian,” regime.8

During the last third of the 20th century, the general outlook on the political system among scholarly observers soured.9 There are multiple reasons for this shift from a generally laudatory to an increasingly critical view, but the 1968 massacre of peaceful student protesters at the Plaza of Three Cultures in the residential neighborhood of Tlatelolco, just days before Mexico City hosted the Summer Olympic Games, proved to be a major turning point. Despite a considerable effort by police, political leaders, and the media to cover up the event, word spread quickly. Since then, scholars have dismantled the image of the Pax PRIísta. The list of instances of state-sponsored violence proved far longer than what was previously supposed: crackdowns on organized labor in the late 1940s and again a decade later; repression of the 1964 doctors’ strike; the student massacre of 1968 and a subsequent one in 1971 (the so-called Corpus Christi massacre); and the suppression of rural activism, first with the movement of Rubén Jaramillo in the 1940s and 1950s,10 and later in a “dirty war” counterinsurgency that most likely claimed more than a thousand lives, to name a few. These disturbing events and processes prove that even though Mexico never came under the authority of a military dictatorship, it was anything but immune to the kinds of Cold War political violence that befell the rest of the region.11

The configuration of the political system itself, once celebrated for its hybrid and generally conciliatory nature, also proved to have flaws. The pyramidal institutional structure of the party, once designed to promote a kind of controlled, state-manipulated civic participation, gave way to a top-down system. Even if it did not rely on constant terror, it nonetheless debilitated civil society. Within this ever more calcified corporatist bureaucracy, official corruption flourished. Over time, the pattern of bribery, graft, cronyism, and quid pro quo patronage, for which the PRI would eventually become infamous, eroded public confidence and wasted untold public resources.12

Leaders affiliated with the PRI devised clever means of neutralizing political opposition. Government intelligence services, though lacking the paranoia-inducing nature of their counterparts in the communist bloc, the broad-reaching capabilities of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, or the terrifying breadth of their equivalents in the Latin American military dictatorships, nonetheless worked on behalf of the PRI to snuff out potential communist or other “subversive” threats.13 Government surveillance went hand-in-glove with political violence as a method of social and political control, and together revealed that with regard to the PRI, reality differed considerably from myth.

Dominant outlets of broadcast and print media, though privately owned and ostensibly free of government influence, often relied on generous subsidies in exchange for regime-friendly programming, while those with opposing views often found themselves in blackouts. Thus, whether they were tuning in to the nightly radio variety hour La Hora Nacional or getting their news from the dominant Televisa network’s veteran newsman, Jacobo Zabludovsky, citizens took in a heavy dose of propaganda.14 If the revolution had produced a welter of nationalist art and cultural programming, then television programming in the second half of the 20th century created a new outlet through which the PRI could transmit self-serving messages. Even the network’s popular soap operas, known as telenovelas, conveyed subliminal political discourses aimed primarily at the working classes. Their formulaic storylines suggested that good would conquer evil, that love conquered all, and that rich and poor could live harmoniously in an upwardly mobile society.15

Beyond the realm of popular culture, the PRI’s tight relationship with dominant media outlets, sealed by equally close business partnerships between media magnates like Rómulo O’Farrill and Emilio Azcárraga Vidaurreta (and later his son, Emilio “El Tigre” Azcárraga Milmo) and government officials (above all Miguel Alemán, who used his presidency to launch into the highest ranks of the financial elite), ensured that the media would be at the PRI’s disposal for the majority of the century.16 The most vivid portrait of such dense and corrupt networks of power is visible in Carlos Fuentes’s stunning novel The Death of Artemio Cruz, which uses the rise and demise of its eponymous protagonist as a metaphor for the wayward course of the revolution.17

Taken together, these various strategies of rule allowed the PRI to expand its reach while thwarting the possibility that a viable political opposition, and by extension a genuine democratic political culture, might emerge. Parties on the left, such as the Popular Party (PP), founded by Vicente Lombardo Toledano, the former head of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), were either dismissed as communist or harassed. On the right, the National Action Party (PAN), founded by prominent intellectual Manuel Gómez Morín, spent most of the Cold War years in relative dormancy. The conservative party, which would eventually unseat the PRI in 2000, drew influence from a small but wealthy sliver of the business elite, especially in the northern industrial hub of Monterrey, and from Catholic conservatives who had never warmed to the PRI on account of its revolutionary anticlerical heritage. Until far later in the century, parties other than the PRI functioned as a kind of “loyal opposition,” lending a thin veneer of democratic legitimacy to the party and political system alike.18

In sum, at its best the PRI-controlled government could respond to competing demands from various social sectors, avoid the use of violence as a method of asserting its authority, and derive consent from a large share of the populace. In a word, it could be hegemonic, if not democratic. But at its worst, and certainly as the Cold War decades wore on, it morphed into something else—a wasteful bureaucracy that not only tolerated but actively encouraged corruption, a morally bereft governing class that grew wealthy off a public sector defined by impunity and non-transparency, and a system that discarded its most innovative and democratic characteristics to enrich a decadent political elite.

A New Economy

The economic depression of the 1930s posed a dilemma for Latin America. How, in an era of sharply diminished demand for raw exports, could the region hope to survive? The answer that got the most traction was provided by Argentine economist Raúl Prebisch and German economist Hans Singer, who demonstrated that economies that primarily exported raw goods would face diminishing terms of trade over time. To remedy this losing arrangement, they proposed that the Latin American economies use government intervention to promote industrialization. While various countries experimented with some measure of this proposition, the region’s four largest economies—Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile—engaged in a more comprehensive strategy that came to be known as import-substitution industrialization, or ISI. The purpose, as the name suggests, was to substitute manufactured industrial products, which were previously imported, with domestically produced goods. To achieve this outcome, governments, including Mexico’s under the PRI, implemented various strategies, including tariffs on imports, direct subsidies, tax incentives, and infrastructure development. This economic agenda defined the government’s official development agenda from the mid-1940s through the 1970s.19

The immediate effects of ISI policies were both staggering and encouraging. Various industries, especially consumer goods such as clothing, small appliances, and canned foods, took off. In doing so, they drew people to manufacturing centers, above all Mexico City, creating a vital consumer base. Even if the ranks of the urban working classes grew faster, the middle classes became a visible presence both in urban life and national politics. Infrastructural projects ranging from massive road construction to electricity-generating stations not only fed growing industry, but also gave the nation an atmosphere of modernity. Most important, the 1940s saw the beginning of three and a half decades of unprecedented economic growth at an annual average rate of 6 percent. Observers, domestic and foreign alike, called it the “Mexican Miracle.” By the numbers, the growth was miraculous, and foreigners in particular looked at Mexico as an exemplar of how an underdeveloped economy could combine vigorous capitalism and state intervention, without excessive suspension of basic freedoms or erosion of living standards, to achieve rapid growth.

But, as is so often the case, the miracle turned out to be a mirage. Even in its earliest stages, a series of unfortunate byproducts corroded the ISI-based development model. First, the buildup of industry to produce cheap consumer products required higher levels of importation of capital goods such as factory machinery. Thus, paradoxically, ISI, which was designed to reduce dependency on imported goods, did exactly the opposite. Export earnings failed to provide sufficient income to pay for imports, leading to a widening trade deficit and periodic balance of payments crises that were usually corrected with currency devaluation designed to bring exports and imports into alignment and restore foreign currency reserves. Second, as the century wore on, Mexico relied more and more on foreign debt to finance ongoing development. Initially, debt-driven development seemed to be logical, provided that the growth continued. But as growth slowed in the 1970s, the onset of foreign debt accelerated, leading to the crisis of 1982.

The conventional logic of ISI emphasized the need for domestic consumers. The orthodox design was that domestic industry and domestic consumption would work best if they were symbiotic. To that end, most of the region’s leaders who oversaw ISI, especially populists who courted the support of the urban working classes, promoted wage increases as a crucial component not only of their political gambit, but of their economic agenda as well. Mexico, by contrast, tended to support a combination of direct wage depressions and inflationary measures (de facto wage depressors), especially currency devaluation, which decreased the relative purchasing power of the peso. In addition, Mexico failed to create a progressive or even functional taxation system through the majority of the 20th century. Part of this was intentional, as pro-business leaders such as Alemán thought increasing tax rates would stifle the incentive to risk investment in domestic industry. Nevertheless, another side of the problem was far more irrational: the national government simply failed to marshal its considerable capabilities to act on the issue, despite empirical evidence warning of dire consequences.20 As a result of insufficient government revenue, the amount of money invested in the bottom quarter of the population ranked Mexico dead last in the region. This fact provides a startling comparative measure of the state of the nation vis-à-vis the rest of the region and also shines a glaring light on how far its post–World War II leadership had strayed from the promises of the 1910 Revolution.

As the nation entered the last third of the 20th century, the economic system had fallen short of fulfilling many of the revolution’s central mandates. Even though structural crisis was decades away, and even as unprecedented growth gave quantitative backbone to claims that Mexico had taken a global lead in Third World development, the reality was that the distribution of benefits was highly uneven. Massive multinational corporations centered in the United States, including the big three Detroit automakers, Dow Chemical, Anderson Clayton, General Electric, and Westinghouse Electric Corporation, benefited from relaxed domestic ownership controls as they expatriated profits.21 While a small segment of domestic industrialists grew wealthy and a sector of the urban middle class saw real benefits, the majority of the population shared a minority of the spoils, and more people than not found themselves worse off. Consequently, as the nation became both more urban and more industrial, the swelling ranks of blue-collar laborers struggled to claim their share of the miracle’s bounty.

Organized Labor’s Rightward Turn

The majority of the nations in Latin America followed a similar trajectory during their transition from the context of World War II to the early phase of the Cold War. Across the region, organized labor and the political left saw a moment of opportunity to mobilize after sacrificing their interests during the war years. For Mexican workers, this sentiment was usually expressed as a hope that the revolutionary reforms that had reached their zenith in the 1930s before being suspended during the war would resume in the coming years. And just as quickly, governments across Latin America, including those led by supposedly left-wing populists who drew much of their legitimacy from popular support among workers, issued a harsh reprisal.22 In Mexico, this process took the form of the so-called charrazos—a succession of efforts to put down strikes by railway, oil, and mine workers, and to bring organized labor in line with the official development objectives of the PRI. Symbolically, the process began with the removal in 1947 of celebrated labor leader Vicente Lombardo Toledano from the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), an organization he had once headed. Although he had been partially marginalized following his dismissal from the CTM’s presidency in 1941, he had remained the most influential voice in organized labor through the 1946 election, in which he had offered tepid support for the PRI but had also expressed his mounting frustration.23 With Lombardo Toledano now definitively sidelined, labor pivoted to the right. Through a carrot-and-stick approach that punished disobedience and rewarded cooperation, the PRI disciplined organized labor into accepting a new postwar reality.

The popular image of the charro—the rugged cowboy of the nation’s rural folkloric tradition—took on a sinister quality when applied to relations between labor, capital, and the state. In the narrowest sense, the name was a reference to the bizarre behavior of the rail worker union boss, Jesús Díaz de León, who insisted on wearing chaps and spurs to union meetings. But in the larger sense, charrismo signified the arrival of a new generation of labor leaders, who demonstrated absolute loyalty to the government, often in exchange for handsome financial perquisites. Not surprisingly, the interests of workers ranked low on their priority list. The biggest charro of them all was Fidel Velázquez, who would head the CTM for fifty years, until his death in 1997. If 1948 marked the beginning of charrismo, then ten years later, the violent crackdown on railway strikes, which resulted in the jailing of beloved organizer Demetrio Vallejo, made it clear that organized labor had been cowed into being a docile member of the revolutionary family.

A City of Extremes

The most concentrated effects of the post–World War II development course could be felt in the nation’s capital. By the crisis of 1982, the city’s population had swelled to become the world’s largest. This owed to the pull factor of ISI and the push of an increasingly large-scale and mechanized capitalist mode of production in the countryside. In keeping with the unequal pattern of development across the nation during the middle third of the 20th century, Mexico City became a city of contrasts. While ISI created new blue-collar professions, ones that particularly attracted rural-to-urban migrants, the pace of inward migration far exceeded the opening of employment opportunities, meaning that the ranks of the urban poor swelled. Makeshift shantytowns covered previously uninhabited hillsides surrounding the city, while slums burrowed into the city’s interior. The predictable litany of social and environmental consequences followed. Residents of poor neighborhoods endured lives marred by poverty, illiteracy, infrastructural deficiency, poor sanitation, crime, violence, and drug abuse. Areas of the city like the poor boroughs of Iztapalapa and Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl became nightmarish places to live, while smaller neighborhoods such as Tepito became known for a black market informal economy.

The negative social consequences, in both the countryside and cities, of breakneck urban development and population growth became the basis of research by U.S. anthropologist Oscar Lewis, who developed a “culture of poverty” argument that many interpreted as an effort to blame poverty on its victims’ own choices. His most famous works, The Children of Sánchez and Five Families, hit such a nerve that they got him banned from the country.24 Despite the hostility he engendered through his work, Lewis had nonetheless provided a frustrating counterpoint to the official narrative of the economic miracle. At the same time, the movie Los Olvidados, directed by visionary filmmaker Luis Buñuel, conveyed the dark side of the miracle in stunning fashion by emphasizing crime, violence, and domestic instability among the city’s poor youth.25

Part of the poverty problem was official neglect of the poor, which reflected the values and assumptions of the federal government in the heyday of state-led industrial development. Because leaders increasingly envisioned a nation centered on the success of a still nascent but thriving and growing middle class, official expenditure moved toward supporting that goal. Thus, middle-class urban residents in some ways got more than they bargained—or paid—for. The construction of the sprawling University City campus, the development of the modernist upper middle-class neighborhood of Jardines de Pedregal, and the construction of its suburban counterpart Ciudad Satélite all underscored the priority in developing aesthetically modern and sophisticated urban spaces for an ascendant middle class. Among the lower ranks of the capital’s middle sectors, new housing in one of the various massive multifamiliar housing and commercial complexes (the most famous of them being the Tlatelolco-Nonoalco complex, which surrounded the plaza where students were gunned down in 1968) gave signs of newfound material comfort, if not outright wealth.

Although these urban developments were the work of many hands, the prominent architect Mario Pani had a defining impact. Pani became the nation’s leading proponent of modernist architecture, and in particular sought to apply the principles of famed French architect and urban planner Le Corbusier, who advocated for hyper-orderly and integrated residential, commercial, educational, and recreational spaces.26 These principles are evident in all of the urban and suburban developments previously mentioned and reached their most ambitious expression when two of Pani’s Latin American contemporaries, the Brazilians Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa, designed Brazil’s planned interior capital of Brasilia in the 1960s.

In part due to the actual rapid growth of the middle class, and in part due to the exaggerated anticipation of continued growth of the middle class in the heyday of the miracle, government officials put increased emphasis on its success. The reasons for the growth of the urban middle sectors, especially in Mexico City, owed to two distinct but related factors. First, the advent of ISI produced demand for increased numbers of managers, accountants, lawyers, engineers, architects, and other technical and professional occupations. Second, the continued expansion of the public bureaucracy, within both the government and the party, created a middle sector in itself. While the PRI’s worker and peasant corporate sectors (in the former case, the CTM, mentioned previously, and in the latter the National Peasant Confederation, or CNC) lost political ground, the relatively recently formed National Confederation of Popular Organizations, or CNOP, made up the difference as it gained authority. The rather mysteriously named and ill-defined sector, formed in 1942, was designed to incorporate the lower segments of the urban middle classes in both the private and public sectors.

Beyond institutional politics, the priority on the middle classes could be felt in the city’s culture. For the first time, the urban bourgeoisie drove Fords and Packards, enjoyed U.S. household appliances, and went to the cinema to watch Hollywood movies or their own country’s Golden Age stars, including María Felix, Dolores del Río, Pedro Infante, and Cantinflas.27 If the rustic campesino had been the national icon for the revolutionary generation, then the symbol of national success in the miracle era was an urbanite with a college degree and a white-collar job.28 Lamentably, this ideal did not reflect the reality shared by the majority.

The uneven development of Mexico City thus led to social and political conflict. This certainly can be seen in the popular protests of the 1980s, following the inept handling of the disastrous 1985 earthquake, but in the “Miracle” period, the most notable manifestation came in the form of the rise, long tenure, and ultimate demise of Ernesto Uruchurtu, the head of the Federal District (comparable, to some extent, to being Mexico City’s mayor, except that the position was a cabinet-level presidential appointment until the 1990s) from 1952 to 1966. Uruchurtu left a complex legacy. His commitment to the internal development of the city, and in particular to urban sanitation and beautification, was commendable, even if it rested on the assumption that the problems of the poor were to be found in their behavior and environment, rather than in the structural reality of Mexico’s economy.29 In this regard, he seemed to share the ideological assumptions of Oscar Lewis, a far more reviled figure.

Over time, Uruchurtu’s war on the effects of poverty began to look more like a war on the poor, as he devoted far more attention to making the capital suitable for middle-class and wealthy residents, investors, and tourists, while gaining infamy for his willingness to bulldoze shantytowns. His opposition to the construction of a subway system put him at odds with President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, leading to his eventual ouster.30 The mixed legacy of Uruchurtu points to the complex place that Mexico City had become in the political, social, and economic landscape of mid-20th-century Mexico.31

Abandoning Agrarian Reform

In the eyes of the many who had celebrated the agrarian reform as the supreme triumph of the revolution, the course of rural development in the second half of the century proved nothing short of tragic. The distribution of some 45 million acres of land to poor peasants, usually in the form of a combination of individually and collectively tended land grants known as ejidos, had been a central accomplishment of the administration of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–1940). With few exceptions, such as the administration of Adolfo López Mateos (1958–1964), which mounted the closest thing to a comeback with respect to agrarian reform, subsequent administrations had largely suspended commitments to ongoing land redistribution. Instead, leaders in the decades after World War II adopted a clear preference for large-scale commercial agriculture, regardless of the effects on the rural working population.

Remembering the pre-1940s period as a golden age of land distribution would be misleading. In fact, the ejido experiment had failed in many ways, especially in large projects such as the cotton-growing region of La Laguna, due to a complex of factors, among them unproductive land and inadequate credit. Yet in spite of these inadequacies, at the minimum the agrarian reform of the 1930s captured the spirit of revolutionary redistribution. Moreover, it is possible that with better land, more progressive credit options, and investment in productive infrastructure, the ejidos could have been, in the words of one scholar, Mexico’s “way out.”32 But what came in the 1940s was neither a correction to existing problems nor a better alternative.

The concentration of land ownership, mechanization of farm production, and introduction of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, combined with a federal government that invested more of its wealth in the development of urban centers and the protection of domestic industry, made the plight of the rural poor little more than an afterthought for national officials in the middle third of the 20th century. This lesson was certainly not lost on peasants, who found that their grievances were rarely addressed in the circuits of power within the PRI’s rural sector, the National Peasant Confederation, or CNC. For outsiders, the failure of the revolution, or at least the party claiming to be the institutional embodiment of the revolution, found its most haunting expression in Juan Rulfo’s experimental and influential novel Pedro Páramo, which painted a ghostly, surreal portrait of rural life.33

Compounding the shift away from the collectivist ejido model and toward what some have called neolatifundismo was the implementation of programs under the agenda that came to be known as the Green Revolution. This global movement, championed by U.S. researcher Norman Borlaug, who would later win the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to combat world hunger, sought to increase crop yields by identifying and isolating crop strains, especially staple cereal grains, that were more resilient in the face of disease or climate pressures. Mexico became the first major site for the experiment. Ultimately, the Green Revolution, however noble its intentions or seemingly plausible its scientific rationale, failed to deliver its promise of eradicating malnutrition. Moreover, it faced criticism due to its preference for large-scale, mono-crop agriculture that eliminated native biodiversity.34

In sum, by mid-century and continuing thereafter, the situation of agrarian affairs looked more like it had before the 1910 Revolution than many wanted to admit. Large landholders possessed the majority of wealth and political influence, foreign corporations had unprecedented access to national resources, collective landholding had been abandoned and in many cases had failed anyway (for example, in the massive ejidal region of La Laguna), and the rural poor faced the unappealing choice of enduring grinding poverty or migrating, either to an industrial center or to the United States.35 This reality begged an unsavory question: had the sacrifices of the Revolution in the countryside been worth it?

The Colossus of the North

No leader in Mexico’s national history has evaded the task of crafting a policy regarding relations with the United States. During the revolutionary period, relations had strained considerably, and following the conflict, political leaders sought to mend the relationship while still holding firm to a few basic commitments to protect Mexico’s economy from the rapacious tendencies of U.S.–centered corporations. Thus, during the 1920s and 1930s, leaders attempted to attract private investment while retaining commitments to so-called “Mexicanization” laws demanding majority domestic ownership of industries and firms operating in the country. From the mid-1940s onward, this balancing act between courting U.S. favor and maintaining a posture of anti-imperialist sovereignty gave way to a far more open policy.36

Two primary obstacles confronted U.S.–Mexican relations after World War II. First, wartime agreements in which the United States bought Mexican goods at fixed quotas were suspended, leaving a more precarious trade outlook. Second, protectionist ISI policies, which substituted domestically produced goods for imported ones (which were often cheaper and of better quality), undermined U.S. exports. In spite of these challenges, relations between the two countries were productive, if not always equally beneficial to both parties. U.S. corporations increasingly evaded domestic ownership laws. The positive side was an inflow of private investment; the negative byproduct was an outflow of profit.

Tourism became a critical component of binational relations. In the 1940s and 1950s, largely owing to official efforts to combine public expenditure with aggressive recruitment of both domestic and foreign private investment, Acapulco became a common resort destination for jet-setters from the United States, and would remain popular for several more decades. On the nation’s other coast, the coastal city of Cancún underwent a similar evolution beginning in the 1970s. Both destinations were transformed, seemingly overnight, into tourist hot spots. Largely to stimulate economic growth and turn a profit, Mexicans, who had once appealed to smaller numbers of tourists from the United States by promoting the charm of indigenous artisanal handicrafts, increasingly lured foreign visitors with the promise of tropical beaches and first-class amenities.37

Beyond tourism, the extension of the bracero guest worker program served as the most recognizable outcome of bilateral cooperation. The program, first established in 1942 as a temporary replacement of U.S. farm laborers who were gone at war, ended up being renegotiated and extended until 1964, when domestic opposition from organized labor and church groups in the United States eventually led political leaders in Washington to abandon it. During that time, more than four and a half million Mexican laborers entered the United States legally (just as many would do so without the legal protections of the program). In the eyes of Mexican officials such as the anthropologist turned government adviser Manuel Gamio, the program would inculcate in citizens proper habits of work, hygiene, and self-discipline, and would expose them to the most up-to-date agro-industrial technology. Despite such lofty promises, the outcomes were often barbaric: braceros often faced abuse or discrimination and saw their wages intercepted by labor contractors. Moreover, certain communities within Mexico became increasingly reliant on the incomes provided by the program, meaning that they were dependent on more dangerous and illegal forms of migration in the post–bracero program reality.38

1970s–1982: Shifting Ground

By the early 1970s, the weaknesses of the ISI model had begun to suggest that the miracle was drawing to a close. Incoming president Luis Echeverría (1970–1976) simultaneously sought to correct the deficiencies of the economy while also courting favor among a skeptical public. Although the horrifying 1968 student massacre and controversial Olympic Games had taken place under his predecessor, Gustavo Díaz Ordaz (1964–1970), many presumed that Echeverría was behind the attack on students. Thus, to build public support and soften the sense of illegitimacy beleaguering the PRI and its leadership, he embarked on an energetic populist campaign to connect with citizens in all corners of the republic and from all walks of life. His policies also reflected a leftward turn: he nationalized an astounding number of industries, most prominently the foreign-owned telephone industry. He also sought to shield poor residents from the harsh realities of living in a developing capitalist economy, something that put him at odds with wealthy industrialists, particularly those from the northern manufacturing center of Monterrey. His populist political style never took, certainly not in the way that Lázaro Cárdenas’s had a generation earlier. Moreover, even as he warned that continued breakneck industrialization would eventually backfire, his economic policies did little to evade the looming economic crisis.39

Echeverría’s successor, José López Portillo (1976–1982), again sought to amend the nation’s economic fortunes. His administration predicated his country’s future on its status as an oil exporter. No doubt Mexico benefited from the spike in global oil prices that occurred after the Arab oil embargo of 1974, but the recoil proved to be severe during the oil glut a half-decade later. López Portillo’s administration became known not only for profligate spending, but also for ratcheting up foreign debt to unprecedented levels. By the early 1980s, Mexico was caught in a perfect storm: its balance of payments became so lopsided that it necessitated a succession of devaluations, draining whatever hope the poor majority had to hang onto its standard of living; global oil prices tanked as the world market was flooded with supply; and the public understanding of the administration’s handling of the economy became colored primarily by the image of corruption. While the president looked bad enough, the ultimate symbol of decadence was Arturo “El Negro” Durazo, Mexico City’s police chief, who was rumored to have used members of his police force, working in dreadful conditions, to build a massive estate nicknamed The Parthenon.40

The year 1982 proved to be a terrible one. In February, a massive devaluation once again stressed the personal economies of millions of people, even if it gave one more tiny breath of life to the nation’s economy. In August, Mexico, left with no alternatives, announced a moratorium on its external debt payments. In September, López Portillo, searching for a scapegoat as he prepared to leave office, pointed the finger at the nation’s banks, then nationalized them. The remainder of the 1980s would come to be known as la década perdida—the lost decade—as the economy stalled and the PRI’s grip on power loosened.41

Conclusion: An End and a Beginning

If 1946 marked the moment of transition into the heyday of state-led development under the corporatist PRI, then 1982 marked the end of that era. At the same time, it initiated a new era that put the nation on its present course. That course has seen spectacular highs and discouraging lows. The economic response to the 1982 debt crisis, carried out under the guidance of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), included a total withdrawal from state-supported industrialization coupled with neoliberal austerity and deregulatory measures designed to promote a free-market economy, culminating in the signing of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The movement to align Mexico with the so-called Washington Consensus, while producing some positive indicators, has ultimately left a legacy of heightened inequality, poverty, and wealth concentration, along with decreased protections and services for the poorest segments of the population. While growth has largely been restored, the nation’s debt has increased, rather than abated, since the 1982 debt crisis.

In political terms, the nation’s political woes included the inept response to the disastrous 1985 earthquake, the fraud associated with the 1988 presidential election, the incompetent handling of the 1994 economic crisis, and the involvement of government officials in the twin murders of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio and high-ranking party official José Francisco Ruiz Massieu the same year.

Yet for all of these discouraging developments, the period since 1982 has seen remarkable highs, highlighting the resiliency of the population in the face of struggle. The 1980s saw the activation of a vibrant civil society, especially after the 1985 earthquake, when neighborhood associations emerged to respond to local grievances. The anonymous neighborhood activist Superbarrio, a community organizer dressed as a superhero, became the public representation of an emerging participatory political culture. The 1988 rupture within the PRI, ultimately leading to the founding of the opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) by Cuauhtemóc Cárdenas, the son of beloved revolutionary president Lázaro Cárdenas, served as a harbinger of a broader democratic opening. Indeed, through the 1990s, the PRI would have to contend with the dual forces of an increased civic culture and a more organized political opposition. By the later part of the decade, the PRD controlled the Mexico City government, while the PAN held a handful of important governorships. In 2000, the PRI would lose the presidency.

Since 1982, Mexico has been defined by these competing forces. On one side, the march toward electoral competition and the activation of civil society provide measurable signs of hope. Balanced against them has been the move toward an economy starkly divided between a few winners and too many losers, as well as the continued currents of political corruption, bureaucratic lethargy, and endemic violence. In either case, these realities, which carry on into the present day, are the product of the equally soaring highs and frustrating lows witnessed in the 1946–1982 period.

Discussion of the Literature

Until recently, the historical literature on post-1940 Mexico has been almost nonexistent. Most of the books that have treated the period have been multi-decade surveys that focus on political and economic affairs, and have been written by scholars of other disciplines, such as political science and sociology. L. Vincent Padgett and Robert E. Scott, for example, wrote two commonly cited early surveys embodying this trend.42 Early historical treatments, by Frank Brandenburg, Howard Cline, and James Wilkie,43 tended to applaud the success of the nation’s leaders in creating a strong state committed to redistributive policies following the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution and the cessation of armed conflict three years later. Nevertheless, not all early treatments were so complimentary. In 1947, prominent historian and economist Daniel Cosío Villegas, who had founded the Fondo de Cultura Económica, published an essay entitled “La Crisis de México” in the review Cuadernos Americanos, in which he criticized the revolutionaries for failing to fulfill their own mandate.44 While he may not have been the first to criticize the single-party dominant state, he was the first nationally recognizable intellectual to use his stature to take direct aim at it. He would further develop his analysis of the Mexican political system, joining other scholars, such as Pablo Gonzalez Casanova, in emphasizing the presidency as the dominant force in the nation’s political system.45 Over the remainder of his career at the highest perches of Mexican academia, Cosío Villegas would have to balance his criticism of the PRI with his need to make peace with the nation’s political leaders.

As the second half of the 20th century wore on, scholarly opinions of the PRI continued to darken, especially outside of Mexico. U.S. scholar Roger Hansen, whose work provided a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s political and economic development, gave quantitative backbone to the thesis that the 1910 Revolution had failed to deliver the promises its leaders had made.46 By contrast, Kenneth Johnson’s work, far more sensationalist in nature, carried a similar message, if in more stirring rather than coldly analytical terms.47 Works like those by Hansen and Johnson also made a compelling counterpoint to anodyne treatments of the revolution, such as those contained in the multiple volumes of the series Historia de la Revolución Mexicana published by El Colegio de México. The major symbolic turning point came with the 1968 student massacre at Tlatelolco, which spurred condemnation both within and outside the nation. Despite a great deal of scholarly assessment in the decades since, the interviews, testimonies, photographs, ephemera, and essays compiled by journalist Elena Poniatowska remain the first point of entry.48 In subsequent decades, more and more Mexican authors found the courage to voice opposition. Thus, consultation both of scholarly sources (e.g., José Luis Reyna and Richard S. Weinert) and journalistic ones (e.g., the early issues of Julio Scherer’s seminal publication Proceso) are important to understanding this turn.49

The end of the 20th century and start of the 21st century have seen a proliferation of sources on the post-1940 period. In addition to the aforementioned social sciences, historians have joined the conversation on the period and have produced numerous works on the following topics: political corruption;50 government intelligence;51 the role of the media;52 state–civil society relations as they relate to the PRI’s pursuit of “soft authoritarianism”;53 Cold War violence and the “dirty war”;54 and political opposition,55 among many others. Presumably due to lack of access to sources, the historical literature on the 1970s and 1980s continues to lag behind what has been written on the 1940s–1960s, although this will most likely change as more and more documents become available. Notable exceptions include recent works by Aviña, as well as Kiddle and Muñoz.56 In all, these works reveal that there is much work being done and much work left to be done, making the middle third of the 20th century a field ripe for exploration, especially in the ever-expanding world of archival documents.

Primary Sources

Most of the primary sources available for this period are not digitalized. Therefore, an understanding of the major collections in Mexico is crucial. The first port of call for almost any researcher is the massive Archivo General de la Nación (AGN). Housed in the former Lecumberri prison, the AGN contains the majority of the nation’s official archives from the colonial era to the present day. For this period, the presidential archives are of particular importance. In addition, the archive holds various files from the Secretaría de Gobernación and a handful of other government ministries, as well as a large photographic collection. Rather than going it alone, researchers should orient themselves at the Centro de Referencias at the beginning of their time there.

Other official collections in different parts of the city include the historical archives of the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE), which offers a rich base of sources related to the diplomatic services; the Secretaría de Educación Pública (SEP), which contains voluminous information about the major educational initiatives in the 20th century; and the Secretaría de Salud y Asistencia (SSA), which houses a major repository of sources related to public health. Scholars interested in the history of medicine should also consult the Archivo Histórico de la Facultad de Medicina, located in the city center. The Archivo Histórico de la Ciudad de México contains voluminous information on the history of the Federal District.

The most important archive-related news in the last few years has been the gradual declassification and opening of government intelligence files from the Dirección Federal de Seguridad (DFS). Scholars have faced uneven access and incomplete cataloging, and there have been discussions recently that the government might halt access or even re-classify documents. Nevertheless, a growing number of scholars have made use of the files, which extend to the late 1980s. Because the files were designed to be internal documents kept under lock and key, they do not reflect the official position on any given issue, and can often provide candid (if inconsistent) interpretations of issues. Thus, scholars have used them both to understand the function of government intelligence and as a point of entry into a host of events, conflicts, and controversies in the 20th century.

Researchers have long relied on newspaper holdings to piece together the moment-to-moment events of the 20th century. The largest collection is the Hemeroteca Nacional de México, housed at the Biblioteca Nacional of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). The hemeroteca now offers a partially completed digital collection as well. The second largest can be found at the Biblioteca Miguel Lerdo de Tejada, a library housed in a converted baroque chapel in the Centro Histórico. Both collections offer a range of national and regional papers.

Finally, there are a number of smaller collections that merit exploration. In the same building as Hemeroteca Nacional at the UNAM is the Instituto de Investigaciones sobre la Universidad y la Educación, which houses the national university’s historical archive. Scholars interested in issues related to higher education should consult its collections. Smaller personal, bibliographic, or institutional collections can be found at the following sites: the Instituto José María Luís Mora, the Archivo Manuel Gómez Morín at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), the Archivo Histórico at El Colegio de México, the archive and library of the Centro de Estudios de Historia de México Carso, and the Biblioteca mexicana de la Fundación Miguel Alemán. Beyond Mexico City, state and municipal archives vary in quality and accessibility. States that have traditionally attracted the attention of a large number of researchers, such as Oaxaca or Puebla, tend to have better organized archives than those states that are less represented in scholarship.

Further Reading

Aguayo Quezada, Sergio. La Charola: Una historia de los servicios de inteligencia en México. Mexico City: Grijalbo, 2011.Find this resource:

Aguilar Camín, Hector, and Lorenzo Meyer. A la sombra de la Revolución Mexicana. Mexico City: Cal y Arena, 1989.Find this resource:

Alegre, Robert. Railroad Radicals in Cold War Mexico: Gender, Class, and Memory. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Aviña, Alexander. Specters of Revolution: Peasant Guerrillas in the Cold War Mexican Countryside. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Babb, Sarah. Managing Mexico: Economists from Nationalism to Neoliberalism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.Find this resource:

Berger, Dina, and Andrew Grant Wood, eds. Holiday in Mexico: Critical Reflections on Tourism and Tourist Encounters. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Bernal Tavares, Luis. Vicente Lombardo Toledano y Miguel Alemán: Una bifurcación en la Revolución mexicana. Mexico City: UNAM, 1994.Find this resource:

Brandenburg, Frank R. The Making of Modern Mexico. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1964.Find this resource:

Camp, Roderic Ai. Entrepreneurs and Politics in Twentieth-Century Mexico. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.Find this resource:

Camp, Roderic Ai. The Metamorphosis of Leadership in a Democratic Mexico. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Cline, Howard. Mexico: Revolution to Evolution, 1940–1960. New York: Oxford University Press, 1962.Find this resource:

Cosío Villegas, Daniel. “La Crisis de México.” Cuadernos Americanos 32 (March–April 1947): 29–51.Find this resource:

Cosío Villegas, Daniel. El sistema político mexicano. Mexico City: Joaquín Mortíz, 1972.Find this resource:

Davis, Diane E. Urban Leviathan: Mexico City in the Twentieth Century. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994.Find this resource:

Gillingham, Paul, and Benjamin T. Smith, eds. Dictablanda: Politics, Work, and Culture in Mexico, 1938–1969. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

González Casanova, Pablo. Democracy in Mexico. Translated by Danielle Salti. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970.Find this resource:

González de Bustamante, Celeste. “Muy Buenas Noches”: Mexico, Television, and the Cold War. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012.Find this resource:

Hansen, Roger D. The Politics of Mexican Development. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1971.Find this resource:

Herrera Calderón, Fernando, and Adela Cedillo, eds. Challenging Authoritarianism in Mexico: Revolutionary Struggles and the Dirty War, 1964–1982. New York: Routledge, 2012.Find this resource:

Johnson, Kenneth F. Mexican Democracy: A Critical View. New York: Praeger, 1971.Find this resource:

Kiddle, Amelia, and María L.O. Muñoz, eds. Populism in Twentieth-Century Mexico: The Presidencies of Lázaro Cárdenas and Luis Echeverría. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Loaeza, Soledad. El Partido Acción Nacional: La larga marcha, 1939–1994: Oposición leal y partido de protesta. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1999.Find this resource:

Lomnitz, Claudio, ed. Vicios públicos, virtudes privadas: La corrupción en México. Mexico City: Ciesas, 2000.Find this resource:

Navarro, Aaron W. Political Intelligence and the Creation of Modern Mexico, 1938–1954. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Niblo, Stephen R., and Diane M. Niblo. “Acapulco in Dreams and Reality.” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 24.1 (Winter 2008): 31–51.Find this resource:

Padgett, Vincent L. The Mexican Political System. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966.Find this resource:

Paxman, Andrew, and Claudia Fernández. El Tigre: Emilio Azcárraga y su imperio Televisa. 3d ed. Mexico City: Grijalbo, 2013.Find this resource:

Pensado, Jaime M. Rebel Mexico: Student Unrest and Authoritarian Political Culture during the Long Sixties. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Rath, Thomas. Myths of Demilitarization in Post-Revolutionary Mexico, 1920–1960. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Scott, Robert E. Mexican Government in Transition. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1959.Find this resource:

Walker, Louise E. Waking from the Dream: Mexico’s Middle Classes After 1968. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Wilkie, James W. The Mexican Revolution: Federal Expenditure and Social Change since 1910. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.Find this resource:


(1.) Mary Kay Vaughan and Stephen E. Lewis, eds. The Eagle and the Virgin: Nation and Cultural Revolution in Mexico, 1920–1940 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006); and Rick A. López, Crafting Mexico: Intellectuals, Artisans, and the State after the Revolution (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010).

(2.) Julio Moreno, Yankee Don’t Go Home!: Mexican Nationalism, American Business Culture, and the Shaping of Modern Mexico, 1920–1950 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

(3.) Roger D. Hansen, The Politics of Mexican Development (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1971); José Luis Reyna and Richard S. Weinert, eds., Authoritarianism in Mexico (Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1977); and James D. Cockcroft, Mexico’s Revolution Then and Now (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2010).

(4.) On populism, see Michael L. Conniff, “Introduction,” in Populism in Latin America, ed. Conniff (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1999), 1–21; and Alan Knight, “Populism and Neo-Populism in Latin America, Especially Mexico,” Journal of Latin American Studies 30.2 (May 1998): 223–248; on Mexico’s lack of militarism, see Edwin Lieuwen, The Mexican Military: The Political Rise and Fall of the Revolutionary Army, 1910–1940 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1968).

(5.) Daniel Cosío Villegas, El sistema político mexicano (Mexico City: Joaquín Mortíz, 1972); Pablo González Casanova, Democracy in Mexico, trans. Danielle Salti (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970); and L. Vincent Padgett, The Mexican Political System (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966). One scholar who incorrectly ascribed a high level of independent authority to the party was Robert E. Scott; see Scott, Mexican Government in Transition (Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1959).

(6.) Frank R. Brandenburg, The Making of Modern Mexico (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1964); Howard Cline, Mexico: Revolution to Evolution, 1940–1960 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1962); and James Wilkie, The Mexican Revolution: Federal Expenditure and Social Change since 1910 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967). The multiple volumes of the series Historia de la revolución mexicana, published by El Colegio de México, take a similar view.

(7.) Cline, Mexico: Revolution to Evolution.

(8.) The best recent collection of work on the topic of the regime is the following source, which accounts for both the repressive and conciliatory characteristics of the regime, as well as both the top-down and popular dynamics of Mexican politics under the PRI: Paul Gillingham and Benjamin T. Smith, eds., Dictablanda: Politics, Work, and Culture in Mexico, 1938–1969 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014). The “most successful” characterization comes from prominent intellectual Lorenzo Meyer, who has employed the term in multiple forums, among them interviews and publications.

(9.) For one early survey offering heavy criticism, see Kenneth F. Johnson, Mexican Democracy: A Critical View (New York: Praeger, 1971).

(10.) Tanalís Padilla, Rural Resistance in the Land of Zapata: The Jaramillista Movement and the Myth of the Pax Priísta, 1940–1962 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008).

(11.) For a recent rebuttal to Edwin Lieuwen’s “apolitical military” thesis, see Thomas Rath, Myths of Demilitarization in Post-Revolutionary Mexico, 1920–1960 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013). Research on rural violence and the so-called dirty war has undergone rapid expansion owing to the declassification of intelligence files. See Alexander Aviña, Specters of Revolution: Peasant Guerrillas in the Cold War Mexican Countryside (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014) and the collected chapters in Fernando Herrera Calderón and Adela Cedillo, eds., Challenging Authoritarianism in Mexico: Revolutionary Struggles and the Dirty War, 1964–1982 (New York: Routledge, 2012). For worker crackdowns, see Robert Alegre, Railroad Radicals in Cold War Mexico: Gender, Class, and Memory (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014). For student protests, Jaime Pensado, Rebel Mexico: Student Unrest and Authoritarian Political Culture during the Long Sixties (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013).

(12.) Claudio Lomnitz, “Prefacio” and “Introducción,” in Vicios públicos, virtudes privadas: La corrupción en México, ed. Lomnitz (Mexico City: Ciesas, 2000): 7–32; and Stephen Morris, Corruption and Politics in Contemporary Mexico (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1991).

(13.) Sergio Aguayo Quezada, La Charola: una historia de los servicios de inteligencia en México (Mexico City: Grijalbo, 2011); and Aaron Navarro, Political Intelligence and the Creation of Modern Mexico, 1938–1954 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010). The recent availability of declassified sources from both the DGIPS and the DFS has led to a surge in new research, though progress is threatened by recent reports that the documents might be re-classified, possibly for seventy more years. Tanalís Padilla and Louise Walker recently edited a special journal issue on the secret police archives as well: Padilla and Walker, eds., “Spy Reports: Content, Methodology, and Historiography in Mexico’s Secret Police Archive,” Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research 19.1 (2013): 1–175.

(14.) Celeste González de Bustamante, “Muy Buenas Noches”: Mexico, Television, and the Cold War (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012).

(15.) Sam Quinones, True Tales of Another Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino, and the Bronx (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001).

(16.) Andrew Paxman and Claudia Fernández, El Tigre: Emilio Azcárraga y su imperio Televisa, 3d ed. (Mexico City: Grijalbo, 2013).

(17.) Carlos Fuentes, The Death of Artemio Cruz, trans. by Alfred MacAdam (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1991). Originally published 1962.

(18.) Soledad Loaeza, “The National Action Party (PAN): From the Fringes of the Political System to the Heart of Change,” in Christian Democracy in Latin America: Electoral Competition and Regime Conflicts, ed. Scott Mainwaring and Timothy R. Scully (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003): 196–246; Loaeza, El Partido Acción Nacional: La larga marcha, 1939–1994: Oposición leal y partido de protesta (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1999); Loaeza, El llamado de las urnas (Mexico City: Cal y Arena, 1989); Franz A. von Sauer, The Alienated “Loyal” Opposition: Mexico’s Partido Acción Nacional (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1974); and Donald J. Mabry, Mexico’s Acción Nacional: A Catholic Alternative to Revolution (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1973).

(19.) For a regional survey of the course of ISI, see Peter Kingstone, The Political Economy of Latin America: Reflections on Neoliberalism and Development (New York: Routledge, 2010). For Mexico, Enrique Cárdenas, “The Process of Accelerated Industrialization in Mexico,” in An Economic History of Twentieth-Century Latin America, vol. 3, ed. Cárdenas, José Antonio Ocampo and Rosemary Thorpe (New York: Palgrave, 2000), 176–204; Cárdenas, “The Great Depression and Industrialization: The Case of Mexico,” in An Economic History of Twentieth-Century Latin America, vol. 2, ed. Thorpe (New York: Palgrave, 2000), 195–211; Sarah Babb, Managing Mexico: Economists from Nationalism to Neoliberalism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004); and Hansen, Politics of Mexican Development.

(20.) Ben Smith, “Building a State on the Cheap: Taxation, Social Movements, and Politics,” in Dictablanda: Politics, Work, and Culture in Mexico, 1938–1968, ed. Paul Gillingham and Smith (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), 255–276.

(21.) James D. Cockcroft, Class Formation, Capital Accumulation, and the State (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1983).

(22.) Leslie Bethell and Ian Roxborough, “Introduction: The Postwar Conjuncture in Latin America: Democracy, Labor, and the Left,” in Latin America between the Second World War and the Cold War, 1944–1948, ed. Bethell and Roxborough (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 1–32; Roxborough, “Mexico,” in Bethell and Roxborough, Latin America between, 190–216; and Bethell and Roxborough, “Latin America between the Second World War and the Cold War: Some Reflections on the 1944–1948 Conjuncture,” Journal of Latin American Studies 20.1 (May 1988): 167–189.

(23.) Luis Bernal Tavares, Vicente Lombardo Toledano y Miguel Alemán: Una bifurcación en la Revolución mexicana (Mexico City: UNAM, 1994).

(24.) Oscar Lewis, The Children of Sánchez: Autobiography of a Mexican Family (New York: Random House, 1961); and Lewis, Five Families: Mexican Case Studies in the Culture of Poverty (New York: Basic Books, 1959).

(25.) Los Olvidados—The Young and the Damned, DVD, directed by Luis Buñuel (1950; Mexico City: Ultramar Films, 2004).

(26.) The most extensive information on Pani’s life, work, and philosophies is the work of Graciela de Garay, whose work includes written publication, oral interviews, and documentary film. See Mario Pani, Investigación y entrevistas por Graciela de Garay (México: Instituto Mora, 2000); Mi multi es mi multi: Historia oral del Multifamiliar Miguel Alemán (1949–1999) (México: Instituto Mora, 1999), video; and Graciela de Garay, “¿Quién pone el orden el la vivienda moderna? El Multifamiliar Miguel Alemán visto por sus habitants y vecinos,” in Modernidad habitada: Multifamiliar Miguel Alemán, ciudad de México, 1949–1999, ed. Graciela de Garay (México: Instituto Mora, 2004), 13–68.

(27.) Joanne Hershfield and David R. Maciel, eds., Mexico’s Cinema: A Century of Film and Filmmakers (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1999).

(28.) Stephen R. Niblo, Mexico in the 1940s: Modernity, Politics, and Corruption (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1999).

(29.) Rachel Kram Villareal, “Gladiolas for the Children of Sánchez: Ernesto P. Uruchurtu’s Mexico City, 1950–1968” (Ph.D. diss., University of Arizona, 2008).

(30.) Diane E. Davis, “The Social Construction of Mexico City: Political Conflict and Urban Development, 1950–1966,” Journal of Urban History 24.3 (March 1998): 364–413.

(31.) Diane E. Davis, Urban Leviathan: Mexico City in the Twentieth Century (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994).

(32.) Eyler N. Simpson, The Ejido: Mexico’s Way Out (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1937).

(33.) Juan Rulfo, Pedro Páramo, trans. by Margaret Sayers Peden (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002). Originally published 1955.

(34.) Joseph Cotter, Troubled Harvest: Agronomy and Revolution in Mexico, 1880–2002 (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002); and Cotter, “The Origins of the Green Revolution in Mexico: Continuity or Change?” in Latin America in the 1940s: War and Postwar Transitions, ed. David Rock (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 224–247.

(35.) Cockcroft, Class Formation, Capital Accumulation, and the State.

(36.) Two excellent general surveys of U.S.–Latin American relations to put U.S.–Mexican relations in context are the following: Thomas O’Brien, Making the Americas: The United States and Latin America from the Age of Revolutions to the Era of Globalization (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 2007); and Mark T. R. Gilderhus, The Second Century: U.S.–Latin American Relations since 1889 (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000).

(37.) Dina Berger and Andrew Grant Wood, eds. Holiday in Mexico: Critical Reflections on Tourism and Tourist Encounters (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010); Andrew Sackett, “Fun in Acapulco? The Politics of Development on the Mexican Riviera,” in Holiday in Mexico, ed. Berger and Wood, 161–182; Stephen R. Niblo and Diane M. Niblo, “Acapulco in Dreams and Reality,” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 24.1 (Winter 2008): 31–51; and Berger, The Development of Mexico’s Tourism Industry: Pyramids by Day, Martinis by Night (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

(38.) Michael Snodgrass, “Patronage and Progress: The Bracero Program from the Perspective of Mexico,” in Workers across the Americas: The Transnational Turn in Labor History, ed. Leon Fink (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 245–266.

(39.) The most comprehensive treatment of the Echeverría era is the collection of essays by various scholars contained in the following source: Amelia Kiddle and María L. O. Muñoz, eds., Populism in Twentieth-Century Mexico: The Presidencies of Lázaro Cárdenas and Luis Echeverría (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2010).

(40.) José González G., “The Dark Deeds of ‘El Negro’ Durazo,” in The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics, ed. Gilbert M. Joseph and Timothy J. Henderson (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), 512–519.

(41.) Kingstone, The Political Economy of Latin America.

(42.) Padgett, The Mexican Political System; and Scott, Mexican Government in Transition.

(43.) Brandenburg, The Making of Modern Mexico; Cline, Mexico: Revolution to Evolution; and Wilkie, The Mexican Revolution: Federal Expenditure and Social Change.

(44.) Daniel Cosío Villegas, “La Crisis de México,” in Cuadernos Americanos 32 (March–April 1947): 29–51.

(45.) Cosío Villegas, El sistema político mexicano; and González Casanova, Democracy in Mexico.

(46.) Hansen, Politics of Mexican Development.

(47.) Johnson, Mexican Democracy: A Critical View.

(48.) Elena Poniatowksa, La noche de Tlatelolco: Testimonios de historia oral. 2d ed. (Mexico City: Ediciones Era, 1999). Originally published 1971.

(49.) José Luis Reyna and Richard S. Weinert, eds., Authoritarianism in Mexico (Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1977).

(50.) Lomnitz, ed., Vicios públicos, virtudes privadas; and Morris, Corruption and Politics in Contemporary Mexico.

(51.) Padilla and Walker, eds., “Spy Reports”; Aguayo Quezada, La Charola; and Navarro, Political Intelligence.

(52.) Paxman and Fernández, El Tigre; and González de Bustamante, “Muy Buenas Noches.”

(53.) Gillingham and Smith, Dictablanda.

(54.) Calderón and Cedillo, Challenging Authoritarianism in Mexico.

(55.) Loaeza, El Partido Acción Nacional.

(56.) Aviña, Specters of Revolution; and Kiddle and Muñoz, Populism in Twentieth-Century Mexico.