Mexico Government and History

Government and administration. – According to the latest amendments to the Constitution (1952), women are equal in all civil and electoral rights to men: all those who have reached the age of 18 if married, 21 if celibate or single are admitted to the active electorate. For Mexico political system, please check

Demographic conditions. – The census of June 1950 had revealed a total population of 25,791,017 residents, which then rose to about 32,348,000 according to the results of a global estimate of June 1958, and to 34,625,903 according to the official data of the last census, performed on June 7, 1960. But since only this overall result is known of this for now, the following table provides the basic statistical data still relating to the previous census.

The increase in the population has been, in recent years, very conspicuous: it is due to the high number of births (45-47 ‰ per year) and the decreased mortality (13 ‰; in 1932 still double). Immigration does not have a large impact: in the face of 600-750,000 immigrants a year there are 570-670,000 emigrants. In 1957 the population classified as urban amounted to 44.4%; the economically active residents represented about 32.5% of the total; the majority (57% of the active population) were employed in agriculture (including hunting, fishing and forestry occupations). The capital, Mexico City, exceeds 3,000,000 residents (1959). From the table shown here it appears that the demographic increase was very different in the different states: spectacular that of the new state of Baja California north, that in seven years it has more than doubled the population; its capital, Mexicali, a completely recent center, has reached 196,569 residents (in 1959).

Economy. – Despite the fact that the area actually cultivated occupies just over 10% of the entire territory, agriculture is still the basis of the Mexican economy. But to maize and wheat, both in great increase in the post-war period (1957: maize 5,395,000 ha and 45 million q; wheat 958,000 ha and 13.8 million q), are associated with legumes, vegetables, fruit (citrus, bananas). Among the industrial plants, coffee, cocoa, cane, tobacco, agave sisalana (Yucatán). An estimate of livestock (1957) gives 23.7 million cattle (more than double in 1940), 5.2 million sheep, 9.6 million pigs, 7.2 million goats, 4.5 million horses, etc. Fishing is of modest importance: the major centers are in California.

As regards the resources of the subsoil, Mexico maintains the world record in the production of silver (with 57%), followed by the USA and then by the USSR; production is slightly increasing, aligning with the demands of the moment. In the production of other minerals, which, as it is known, Mexico possesses with great variety and very dispersed in its rich subsoil, there are no major innovations: it should also be noted that copper, lead and zinc are extracted in such quantities to feed substantial export currents. The increase in oil production is significant: more than 13.5 million extracted in 1959 compared to just over 7 in 1946. Only half of the product is refined in the country: a network of approximately 5500 km of oil pipelines distributes crude oil to refineries (the one in Mexico City is great) or to ports of embarkation. As in the past, hard coal is scarce, while the exploitation of hydroelectric energy is significantly increasing (2.7 million kW, including two thermal power plants).

Industries are developing, but slowly: the most active are textiles, metallurgical-mechanical and certain chemicals (synthetic fibers, glass, rubber, fertilizers), the cement factory, the rubber industry.

Mexican exports are mainly supported by cotton, coffee, oil, metal ores (copper, lead, zinc), fishery products. But imports considerably exceed exports, indeed the imbalance tends to grow (average for the four-year period 1954-57: imports 12.1 million pesos; exports 9.1). Main customers and suppliers are the United States; followed by West Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Canada, etc.

The Mexican railway network, now all nationalized, totals 23,500 km; there are 1450 post-telegraph offices. The ocean fleet (about 650,000 t) is modest; the tanker fleet is significant (230,000 t dead weight). Mexico has excellent air services: all states have one or more airports in efficiency. Great Mexico City International Airport. About forty companies maintain regular services with the United States, the states of Central and South America, Canada and Europe.

Finances. – The conspicuous prospects that the wealth and variety of accessible raw materials offer to the industrial development of Mexico are linked to the contributions of foreign capital (in particular from the neighboring USA) with which Mexico was able to finance the deficit of its balance of payments. The banking system is divided into two sectors: the private one and the public one. The latter is formed in particular by special credit institutions (among which the most important is the Nacional Financiera), created by the state to provide for the financing of agricultural activities, transactions with foreign countries, public works, medium and small industries, etc. The weight it was first devalued in September 1949 and again in April 1954. The official parity with the US dollar has remained, thereafter, at 12.50 pesos.

History. – President Miguel Alemán (1946-52) continued the economic policy of his predecessor Manuel Ávila Camacho and maximized agriculture and the exploitation of underground resources. The main effort, however, was concentrated in the creation of new industries with the aid of the Nacional Financiera, which allowed the foundation of more than 50,000 new factories. Education also received a significant boost, and in particular, the construction of the University City of Mexico City should be remembered. The balance of Miguel Alemán’s presidential period is considered to be clearly positive. On 1 December 1952, the new elected president Adolfo Ruiz Cortínez (1952-58), belonging to the Partido Revolucionario Institucional, was inaugurated and followed the same policy as Alemán. However, he had to fight against strong opposition represented by the Catholic Partido de Acción Nacional and a Federación de Partidos del Pueblo; he also had to face, also using force, a series of strikes promoted by students and various categories of workers. During the administration of Ruiz Cortínez the trade unionist Fidel Velázquez increased the membership of the CTM to one and a half million and organized a labor front to strengthen government control in this sector and to prevent Communist infiltration. At the X Inter-American Conference in Caracas (1-28 March 1954) Mexico, together with Argentina, abstained from voting on the resolution against communism proposed by the USA following the events in Guatemala. The old question of the illegal entry of Mexican laborers (wetbacks) in the USA was resolved by an agreement between the two countries (January 4, 1955).

The elections of 1958, in which women participated for the first time, saw the clear victory of the candidate of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional Adolfo López Mateos, a man of considerable political experience, who just took office (December 1) had to face a series of strikes caused in particular by railway workers and students. The vigorous government reaction led to the arrest of trade unionists and communists and the expulsion of two Soviet diplomats (March 30, 1959) accused of fomenting strikes. Serious disorders also occurred in the countryside and the government tried to shelter them with a resumption of the agrarian reform program, with a greater expansion of social services and with the elimination of the caciques in the province., local political leaders, true anachronistic remnants of dictatorships. Despite persistent inflation and mass discontent with the high cost of living, López Mateos continues to be trusted by the majority of the population and follows the traditional line of his party with an accentuated left-leaning. For its part, the opposition has so far not been able to influence the attitude of the electorate despite presenting an attractive program: an end to the nationalizations, a revision of the agrarian reform, ample faculties for confessional institutions, the introduction of a concordat regime with Vatican. The visit of President Eisenhower to Mexico (February 19-20, 1959) and that of López Mateos to the USA (October 9-12) demonstrated the solidity of good relations between the two neighboring states. A proof of the Soviet economic penetration efforts in Latin America came with the visit to Mexico (18-28 November) of the Deputy Prime Minister A. Mikoian, who inaugurated the economic, scientific and cultural exhibition of the USSR. In January 1960, President López Mateos undertook a long journey through Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, with the aim of strengthening the ties between these countries and Mexico whose tendency, in the past, had been to deal exclusively with relations with the United States. Mexico is part of the Latin American free trade zone created on February 17, 1960 with the Montevideo Treaty. From 5 to 17 August 1960 he took part in the Inter-American Conference in Punta del Este (v.Pan-Americanism, in this App.).

Mexico Government and administration