1. A Republic in southern North America; became independent from Spain in 1821.
2. City in Missouri (USA); zip code 65265.
3. Unincorporated community in Indiana (USA).
4. Unincorporated community in Maine (USA).
5. Village in New York (USA); zip code 13114.
Country in the North American continent, bounded N by the US, E by the Gulf of Mexico, SE by Belize and Guatemala, and SW and W by the Pacific Ocean. It is the northernmost country in Latin America.
Mexico is a federal republic of 31 states and a federal district, based in Mexico City. The constitution dates from 1917 and is broadly based on the US model. Legislative power rests with a two-chamber national congress of senate, chamber of deputies, and directly elected president, all serving a six-year term. The president chooses the cabinet. The senate has 64 members, each state and the federal district being represented by two senators. The chamber has 500 members: 300 representing single-member constituencies and 200 elected by proportional representation so as to give due weight to minority parties. Members of congress are elected by universal suffrage. Each state has an elected governor and chamber of deputies, elected for a six-year term.
Mexico was the region of the New World where many civilizations developed, including the Olmec, Maya, Toltec, Mixtec, Zapotec, and the Aztec, who settled on the central plateau and whose last king, Montezuma II, was killed 1520 during the Spanish conquest. The indigenous population was reduced from 21 million in 1519 to 1 million by 1607, with many deaths from Old World diseases to which they had no resistance.
In 1535 Mexico became the viceroyalty of New Spain. Spanish culture and Catholicism were established, and the country's natural resources were exploited. Colonial rule became increasingly oppressive; the struggle for independence began 1810, and Spanish rule was ended 1821. The Mexican Empire followed 1822–23.
Mexico's early history as an independent nation was marked by civil and foreign wars and was dominated until 1855 by the dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna. The US annexation of Texas 1835 brought about the Mexican War 1846–48, in the course of which Mexico suffered further losses, including New Mexico and California. Santa Anna was overthrown 1855 by Benito Juárez, whose liberal reforms included many anticlerical measures.
In 1861, enticed by the offer of 30% of the proceeds, France planned to intervene in the recovery of 79 million francs owed to a Swiss banker by former Mexican president Miramon, who was overthrown and exiled by Juárez 1860. Seeking to regain power, in 1862 Miramon appealed to Empress Eugénie, consort of Napoleon III, saying that steps must be taken against Juárez and his anti-Christian policies. Eugénie proposed Maximilian, the brother of Emperor Franz-Joseph of Austria. Napoleon agreed, since the plan suited his colonial ambitions, and in 1864 Maximilian accepted the crown offered him by conservative opponents of Juárez. Juárez and his supporters continued to fight against this new branch of the Hapsburg empire, and in 1867 the monarchy collapsed and Maximilian was executed.
There followed a capitalist dictatorship under General Porfirio Diaz, who gave the country stability but whose handling of the economy made him unpopular. He was overthrown 1910 by Madero, who reestablished a liberal regime but was himself assassinated 1913. The 1910 revolution brought changes in land ownership, labor legislations, and reduction in the powers of the Roman Catholic Church. After a brief period of civil war 1920, Mexico experienced gradual agricultural, political, and social reforms. In 1938 all foreign-owned oil wells were nationalized; compensation was not agreed until 1941. The years after Diaz were marked by political and military strife with the US, culminating in the unsuccessful US expedition 1916–17 to kill the revolutionary Francisco “Pancho” Villa (1877–1923).
The broadly based Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has dominated Mexican politics since the 1920s, pursuing moderate, left-of-center policies. Its popularity has been damaged in recent years by the country's poor economic performance and rising international debts. However, despite criticisms from vested-interest groups such as the labor unions and the church, the PRI scored a clear win in the 1985 elections. The government's problems increased later that year when an earthquake in Mexico City caused thousands of deaths and made hundreds of thousands homeless.
PRI under challenge.
The PRI faced its strongest challenge to date in the 1988 elections. Despite claims of fraud during the elections, the PRI candidate, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, was declared president by the electoral college. He subsequently led campaigns against corrupt labor unions and drug traffickers. Salinas also worked closely with the Bush administration to negotiate debt reductions. In 1991, amid claims of ballot rigging, the PRI decisively won the general elections. President Salinas promised widespread constitutional reforms that would affect education, agriculture, and the church. In 1992 public outrage followed a gas sewer-line explosion in Mexico's second largest city, Guadalajara, in April, in which 194 died and 1,400 were injured. In the July 1992 state-governor elections, the PRI suffered its second defeat in 63 years in Chihuahua state, losing to a PAN candidate.
In Sept 1993 the PRI nominated Donaldo Colosio Murrieta as their presidential candidate, to succeed Salinas. In the same month important electoral reforms were introduced, aimed at curbing corruption. In Nov 1993 the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the US and Canada was ratified by the Mexican senate.
period of political uncertainty.
An uprising in the SE state of Chiapas by a newly formed rebel group, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (ZNLA), Jan 1994 was harshly put down by government troops. The ZNLA opposed the recent NAFTA agreement, which they claimed would benefit only the better-off members of society. The government offered a unilateral cease-fire and awarded ZNLA political recognition as the Zapatista National Liberation Front (EZLN), and a peace accord was signed in March. In the same month the PRI presidential candidate, Donaldo Colosio Murrieta, was assassinated. He was replaced by Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, who subsequently won the Aug 1994 presidential elections. The following month the PRI secretary-general, Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, was assassinated. Subsequent investigations into his killing suggested a conspiracy, involving senior members of the PRI and a Mexican drug cartel. In Dec 1994 Zedillo was formally inaugurated as president. Meanwhile, allegations of electoral fraud in gubernatorial elections in Chi.
apas state had led the EZLN to swear in a rival candidate to the official PRI winner.
Share prices plunged later in Dec, when contrary to earlier assurances, the government devalued Mexico's currency, the peso, allowing it to float freely on international markets. By Jan 1995 the peso had lost a third of its value forcing Zedillo to announce an austerity program, to which the US and international community responded by authorizing loans worth nearly $50 billion. Zedillo also signed an electoral-reform pact, which included an agreement to re-run elections in Chiapas and one other state.
In Feb 1995 the PRI suffered a landslide defeat in the key state of Jalisco, the third and most damaging defeat in its history. In the same month Zedillo ordered government forces into areas occupied by the EZLN, but later recalled them and announced his willingness to resume talks. Former president, Salinas, went into exile March 1995 after his brother Raul was formally charged with the Sept 1994 murder of PRI general secretary Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu.