PRESIDENT: Enrique Peña Nieto (Dec. 2012 - 2018)
POPULATION: 103.5 million
KEY EXPORTS: Petroleum, fruits, industrial goods
(Updates are imminent.)
|Pres. Fox warned that if Pres. Bush doesn't push trade, immigration, and other transborder issues, his reform agenda may collapse. A U.S. border patrol officer was shot, possibly by a Mexican Army soldier.
|Farmers blockaded the construction site of a proposed new airport on the outskirts of Mexico City.
|Pope John Paul II visited Mexico and Guatemala, where he canonized an Indian saint.
|An outbreak of dengue fever infected several dozen and killed at least three people in several states of southern Mexico.
|Mexico withdrew from the 1947 Rio Treaty; Pres. Fox is irritated at the Bush administration for ignoring Mexico.
|Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at Los Cabos, Mexico. Pres. Fox told Bush that Mexico is displeased over U.S. inattention.
|Survey: Pres. Fox is approved by 59 percent of the public, getting credit for raising Mexico's international prestige, but dissatisfaction with economic issues (poverty) continues.
|Secretary of State Colin Powell visited President Fox in Mexico City, but relations remain rather cool.
|Notorious pop singer Gloria Trevi was extradited from Brazil to her home country of Mexico, where she faces charges of abetting child prostitution and rape. How she became pregnant in jail (her manager is the father) is a big mystery.
|At least 28 people died in a fireworks accident in Veracruz, Mexico on New Year's Eve.
|Jorge G. Castañeda, foreign minister of Mexico, resigned. The leftist intellectual was in the forefront of those calling for closer ties with the United States.
|The government closed the elite Federal Special Prosecutor's Office for Drug Crimes after raids by Army units uncovered evidence of widespread corruption.
|Earthquake registering 7.6 on the Richter scale killed dozens of people and ruined colonial-era buildings in Colima and other towns in southwestern Mexico.
|The famous volcano Popocateptl erupted for the first time in several years.
|In a referendum, 85.4% of Mexicans expressed approval of extending the death penalty to cases of kidnapping. Pres. Fox opposed the measure, as did the Catholic Church.
|Spain's prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, flew to Mexico to try to persuade Pres. Fox to support the U.S. move toward war with Iraq.
|As expected, the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) won the largest share of votes in state and municipal elections. Fox's National Action Party (PAN) came in second place in legislative races.
|President Fox is recovering from the back surgery had on Wednesday, repairing a herniated disk.
|Election authorities fined the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) the equivalent of $90 million for failing to report 500 million pesos (about $48 million) in contributions channeled through the labor union of PEMEX.
|Pres. Fox lamented the failure of the diplomatic option in Iraq. Dozens of Mexicans had flown to Iraq to serve as "human shields" against U.S. bombardment.
|In a letter published by the newspaper La Jornada, Mexican Zapatista rebel leader "Marcos" said the U.S.-led war in Iraq is being waged "against all humanity." He ridiculed the "tragicomic Bush-Blair-Aznar axis."
|Pres. Fox called for changes in U.N. Security Council, ending the veto and reducing the distinction between permanent and non-permanent members, to make it "more representative" of the world.
|After 19 illegal immigrants died of heat exhaustion in the back of a truck in Texas, Pres. Fox once again urged the United States to allow greater immigration from Mexico.
|Fox's National Action Party lost 44+ seats in midterm congressional elections. Democ. Revol. Party gains about 40 seats. Fox resists pressure for cabinet shakeup.
|State of Zacatecas amends its constitution to permit emigrants living in the U.S., and their U.S.-born children, to vote.
|Mexican Congress defeats Pres. Fox's proposed reform of the tax system, despite widespread signs of corruption and inefficiency.
|Summit of the Americas in Monterrey; Pres. Bush told Fox that proposed immigration plan would require "temporary workers" to return home.
|Upsurge in drug-relation murders in northwestern Mexico. Nearly 100 were killed in January, and 13 police were arrested as suspects.
|Former intelligence director Miguel Nazar Haro was arrested for the murders of dissident in the 1970s and 1980s.
|Ex-foreign minister Jorge Castañeda announces he will run for president as an independent.
|U.S. Treasury Dept. suspends cooperation with Mexico on financial crimes after confidential info was leaked.
|First Lady Marta Sahagun is under investigation for fund-raising violations. Rumors of her political ambitions hurt Pres. Fox.
|Mexican soldiers disrupte the burial of Lance Cpl. Juan Lopez Rangel, USMC, in Mexico City; at least a dozen U.S. Marines are detained.
|Hundreds of thousands protest in Mexico City against kidnappings and violence.
|Judge refuses to issue arrest warrant for ex-Pres. Echeverria over 1971 massacre of 30 student protesters.
|PRI won an upset election victory in Tijuana, as gambling magnate Jorge Hank Rhon leads in mayor's race; a possible comeback?
|150,000 marchers protested attempt by Fox's government to strip Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of immunity from prosecution over bribery, etc. scandals.
|Pop singer Gloria Trevi was cleared of charges of kidnapping, rape, etc., and was released from prison after five years.
|Mexicans celebrate 150th anniversary of national anthem, written just after war with U.S.
|Pres. Fox vows to block "irresponsible" budget passed by Congress, but his veto powers are unclear. Divided government is a novelty.
|Nearly 1,000 police raided suspected hideouts of mob leaders in a town near Mexico City after vigilante mobs burned to death two federal agents.
|750 police and soldiers took control of maximum security prison near Mexico City; fears of war between drug cartels.
|Mexican govt. guide to help people sneaking into the U.S. angers Americans.
|Mexican officials say U.S. State Dept. warning about dangers of violence on border are "unfair."
|Government strips Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of immunity from prosecution; up to 300,000 protest in his defense. Attorney general resigns, and AMLO is cleared to run for president.
|Sec. of State Rice visits Mexico City, praises "great progress" there, stresses need for border security. Pres. Fox says walls along U.S. border must be taken down.
|Police chief of Nuevo Laredo was assassinated by assault rifles just hours after being sworn in. Over 600 drug-related murders this year.
|Jesse Jackson, others denounce Mexican postage stamps depicting racist cartoon caricatures of blacks. Pres. Bush concurs.
|Registration by Mexican expatriates for next July's election are far below expectations. Half-mile drug traffic tunnel from Tijuana to U.S. side of border was discovered.
|65 miners died when coal mine in northern Mexico collapsed.
|Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Relations issued a special report calling for cooperation with U.S. on immigration.
|The decapitated heads of two police officers were left in front of a government building in Acapulco.
|Violent clash between policemen and crowds in San Salvador Atenco, east of Mexico City. Pres. Fox visits California and Utah.
|Striking teachers were dislodged by police after occupying the central plaza in Oaxaca.
|Felipe Calderon narrowly won the elections, but leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador disputed the results, rallying his supporters in Mexico City to demand a full recount.
|Much of downtown Mexico City is closed down after PRD protesters occupy the Zocalo and main boulevards, choking traffic.
An old saying aptly illustrates Mexico's spiritual longings and its uneasy attitude toward its huge and wealthy northern neighbor: "Poor Mexico! So far from God and so close to the United States!" Mexicans have not forgotten the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), when the United States acquired Texas, California, and the rest of the Southwest. Nationalistic sentiment was one of the reasons for the ferocity of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), when peasant leaders Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa rose up against the oligarchy but were ultimately betrayed and assassinated. Mexico became a one-party authoritarian system under the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), with regular elections every six years to provide a veneer of democratic respectability. Like Brazil, Mexico pursued a nationalistic economic development strategy for several decades, until the debt crisis of the 1980s, which actually began when Mexico defaulted on its foreign debts. This cast doubt on the entire PRI-dominated system. When I visited Mexico in 1985 (my first visit to Latin America), the value of the peso was very low, so our dollars went a long way. The country gradually liberalized its political and economic systems during the 1980s and 1990s, and in the last elections the once-dominant PRI finally lost power after more than seven decades running the country.
Like Peru, Mexico is proud of its Indian heritage, but there is some lingering amivalence. Perhaps its most famous artist was Diego Rivera, known for his huge murals evoking the struggle of downtrodden peoples, and his wife, the tormented Frida Kahlo, who was recently portrayed on the silver screen by Salma Hayek and commemmorated on a U.S. postage stamp. The country's home-grown music is known as Ranchera, which is similar to Nashville in terms of flashy low-brow twang, but with more of a "oom-pah" flavor based on the accordion and tuba. As for popular culture, Mexico is the center of a booming television and music recording industry, producing many soap operas and CDs. Veronica Castro is the "queen" of soap actresses, and she even gained star status in Russia!
Mexico hosted the Olympic Games in 1968, and the Soccer World Cup in 1970 and 1986.
Baseball has a long history in Mexico, but there is only a medium degree of fan interest. There are 16 semi-pro teams in the Mexican League (AAA rated).
The new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, is of the formerly dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). He represents the status quo, though with a pragmatist willingless to make small adjustments when necessary. His predecessor, Felipe Calderon of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), was frustrated from accomplishing very much, lacking a majority in Congress and facing bitter opposition from the leftist Party of Democratic Revolution, whose candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador claimed the 2006 election was stolen. Calderon lacked charisma or real-world business experience. His party suffered a big loss in the 2009 midterm elections, so he was a virtual lame duck for the last three years of his term. Narcotics corruption remains a huge problem in Mexico, and murders of high officials still take place, but Fox has made some progress in that area as well, cooperating with the United States in most cases. Mexico is experiencing one of the most profound socio-political-economic transformations in its history, but the rising wave of crime and violence is very troubling. Even though the social conflict in the southern state of Chiapas (the Zapatista revolutionary movement) is subsiding, the challenge to authority from drug lords centered n northern Mexico has led to a virtual state of war.
Relations with the United States have cooled over the past decade, largely because of the immigration and drug issues. Fox was disappointed in the Bush administration's eventual move toward a hard-line stand on securing the Mexico-U.S. border. Mexicans resent certain U.S. policies, such as the continued exclusion of Mexican truck drivers from U.S. highways, which was supposed to be allowed under the terms of the NAFTA treaty, but the U.S. Congress is in no mood to offend American truck drivers. The Bush administration was preoccupied by events in the Middle East and South Asia, and did little to respond to Mexico's pleas for economic cooperation. Not surprisingly, President Obama has paid even less attention to Mexico than Bush did.
|Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD)
|Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)
|National Action Party (PAN)
|Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
|Vicente Fox / Felipe Calderon
|S: 29 / CD: 64 ?
|S: 33 / CD: 209
|S: 5 / CD: 87 ?
|S: 52 / CD: 128