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LAND AND PEOPLE
- 62% Mestizo, mix of indigenous (Native Amerindian) and Spanish
- 21% predominantly indigenous
- 7% indigenous
- 10% other (mostly European)
- bordered by the United States, Belize and Guatemala.
- about one-fifth the size of the United States.
- Two peninsulas: Baja California in the west is an 800-mile (1,287-km) peninsula and forms the Gulf of California and the Yucatán
- In the east are the Gulf of Mexico and the Bay of Campeche, which is formed by Mexico's other peninsula, the Yucatán.
- The center of Mexico is a great, high plateau
- Mountain chains on the east and west and with ocean-front lowlands lying outside them.
COLONIZATION, EARLY HISTORY, INDEPENDENCE:
The Mayan civilization, centered in the Yucatán peninsula, became one of the most dominant of the area’s regional groups, reaching its peak around the sixth century A.D. By 600 A.D., the Mayan alliance with the Teotihuacán, a commercially advanced society in north-central Mexico, had spread its influence over much of Mesoamerica.
The nomadic Chichimecha tribe of the Mexica, more commonly known as the Aztecs, arrived in Mexico’s central valley, after a long migration from their northern homeland. They found a settlement, Tenochtitlán, on the marshy land near Lake Texcoco. By the early 15th century, the Aztecs and their first emperor, Itzcoatl, formed a three-way alliance with the city-states of Texcoco and Tlatelóco (now Tacuba) and established joint control over the region.
The Aztecs conquered their chief rivals in the city of Azcapotzalco and emerged as the dominant force in central Mexico.
The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire began in February 1519, when Hernán Cortés arrived at the port in Veracruz. Spain ruled Mexico as part of the viceroyalty of New Spain for the next 300 years until Sept. 16, 1810, when the Mexicans first revolted. They won independence in 1821.
The President is both the head of state and head of government, as well as the commander-in-chief of the military. The president is elected directly from eligible votes and serves for six years, called a sexenio.
The legislative power is vested upon the Congress of the Union, a bicameral congress comprising the and the Chamber of Deputies. The powers of the Congress include the right to pass laws, impose taxes, declare war, approve the national budget, approve or reject treaties and conventions made with foreign countries, and ratify diplomatic appointments. The Senate addresses all matters concerning foreign policy, approves international agreements, and confirms presidential appointments.
The Chamber of Deputies is formed by 500 representatives of the nation.
The judiciary consists of The Supreme Court of Justice, composed of eleven judges or ministers appointed by the President with Congress approval, who interpret laws and judge cases of federal competency. Other institutions of the judiciary are the Electoral Tribunal, collegiate, unitary and district tribunals, and the Council of the Federal Judiciary. The ministers of the Supreme Court will serve for 15 years and cannot be appointed to serve more than once.
DEPARTMENTS AND MUNICIPALITIES
31 states, which form a union that exercises a degree of jurisdiction over the Federal District and other territories.
Each state has its own constitution, congress, and a judiciary, and its citizens elect by direct voting a governor for a six-year term and representatives to their respective unicameral state congresses for three-year terms.
- $1.232 trillion
- $10,174 per capita
- Vehicles $86 billion (21.6% of total exports)
- Electronic equipment $80 billion (20.1%)
- Machines, engines, pumps $60.3 billion (15.2%)
- Oil $42.2 billion (10.6%)
- Medical, technical equipment $14.4 billion (3.6%)
Remittances sent by Mexicans living abroad, mostly in the United States, to their families at home in Mexico, are a substantial and growing part of the Mexican economy; they comprised $22.4 billion in 2012.
ARMED CONFLICTS SINCE INDEPENDENCE:
From 1821 to 1877, there were two emperors, several dictators, and enough presidents and provisional executives to make a new government on the average of every nine months.
Shortly after Mexico's independence from Spain, it began to feel the weight of its neighbor to the northeast. The U.S. had its eyes on much of Mexico's territory. The U.S. instigated a movement by Anglo settlers in Texas to secede from Mexico. Texas became an independent republic in 1836 but its Anglo settlers remained loyal to the U.S. The war over Texas between its two big neighbors became known as the U.S.-Mexico War (or Mexican-American War). After battling for two years (1846-48), Mexico was defeated and, under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, lost more than one-third of its territory to the US: California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, most of Arizona and Colorado, and parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wyoming. And, of course, Texas.
In 1855, President Benito Juárez (a powerful leader of indigenous heritage) began a series of reforms, including the disestablishment of the Catholic Church, which owned vast property. The subsequent civil war was interrupted by the French invasion of Mexico (1861) and the crowning of Maximilian of Austria as emperor (1864). He was overthrown and executed by forces under Juárez, who again became president in 1867.
The Mexican Revolution began in 1910 as a middle-class protest movement against longtime dictator President Porfirio Diaz (1877–1880 and 1884–1911). The armed conflict, which lasted a decade, is often characterized as the most sociopolitical event in Mexico's history and one of the world's most significant revolutionary upheavals of the 20th century. The revolution led to major political and social reforms. Peasant communities would be essentially guaranteed land for life. (These guarantees were eroded under pressure by the US in the 1990s as it required Mexico to make certain "reforms" to enter the North America Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA].)
The revolution years were marked by bloody political-military strife and trouble with the U.S., culminating in the punitive U.S. expedition into northern Mexico (1916–1917) in unsuccessful pursuit of the revolutionary Pancho Villa. Since 1920, Mexico has enjoyed a period of gradual agricultural, political, and social reforms. The Partido Nacional Revolucionario (PNR; National Revolutionary Party), dominated by revolutionary and reformist politicians from northern Mexico, was established in 1929; it continued to control Mexico throughout the 20th century and was renamed the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI; Institutional Revolutionary Party) in 1946. The PRI essentially ran Mexico as a "one-party democracy" until 1998.
Following World War II, the government emphasized economic growth. During the mid-1970s, under the leadership of President José López Portillo, Mexico became a major petroleum producer. By the end of Portillo's term, however, Mexico had accumulated a huge external debt because of the government's unrestrained borrowing on the strength of its petroleum revenues. The collapse of oil prices in 1986 cut Mexico's export earnings.
WHAT ARE THE ISSUES:
WHO IS TARGETED:
Human rights defenders
Environmental rights defenders
Indigenous rights defenders
HOW ARE THEY TARGETED:
Criminalization of social protest