Mexico Government - History

Mexico Government - History


The 1917 constitution provides for a federal republic with powers separated into independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches. In practice, the executive is the dominant branch, with power vested in the president, who promulgates and executes the laws of the Congress. The president also legislates by executive decree in certain economic and financial fields, using powers delegated from the Congress. The president is elected by universal adult suffrage for a 6-year term and may not hold office a second time. There is no vice president; in the event of the removal or death of the president, a provisional president is elected by the Congress.
PresidentFox Quesada, Vicente
Sec. of Agrarian ReformSalazar Adame, Florencio
Sec. of AgricultureUsabiaga Arroyo, Javier
Sec. of Communications & TransportCerisola y Weber, Pedro
Sec. of EconomyCanales Clariond, Fernando
Sec. of EnergyMartens Rebolledo, Ernesto
Sec. of Environment & Natural ResourcesLichtinger, Victor
Sec. of Finance & Public CreditGil Diaz, Francisco
Sec. of Foreign RelationsDerbez Bautista, Luis Ernesto
Sec. of GovernmentCreel Miranda, Santiago
Sec. of HealthFrenk Mora, Julio
Sec. of Labor & Social WelfareAbascal Carranza, Carlos
Sec. of National DefenseVega Garcia, Gerardo Clemente Ricardo, Gen.
Sec. of NavyPeyrot Gonzalez, Marco Antonio, VAdm.
Sec. of Public EducationTamez Guerra, Reyes
Sec. of Public Security & Justice ServicesGertz Manero, Alejandro
Sec. of Public ServiceRomero Ramos, Eduardo
Sec. of Social DevelopmentVazquez Mota, Josefina
Sec. of TourismNavarro, Leticia
Attorney GeneralMacedo de la Concha, Rafael
Chief, Dept. of the Fed. DistrictLopez Obrador, Andres Manuel
Attorney General, Fed. DistrictBatiz Vazquez, Bernardo
Governor, Bank of MexicoOrtiz Martinez, Guillermo
Ambassador to the USBremer Martino, Juan Jose
Permanent Representative to the UN, New YorkAguilar Zinser, Adolfo

What Type Of Government Does Mexico Have?

The Mexico National Palace in Mexico City. Editorial credit: ChameleonsEye /

Mexico (official name: the United Mexican States) is a federal presidential representative democratic republic where the president is both head of state and head of government. The current government of Mexico is guided by the 1917 constitution. Mexico’s government has three branches, namely the executive branch, legislative branch, and judiciary branch. There is provision for separation of powers, although each branch keeps the other in check.


Mexico is located in one of the Earth’s most dynamic tectonic areas. It is a part of the circum-Pacific “ Ring of Fire”—a region of active volcanism and frequent seismic activity. Among its towering volcanic peaks are Citlaltépetl (also called Orizaba), which forms the highest point in the country at 18,406 feet (5,610 metres), and the active volcano Popocatépetl, which rises to 17,930 feet (5,465 metres) to the southeast of Mexico City. These and other Mexican volcanoes are young in geologic terms, from the Paleogene and Neogene periods (about 65 to 2.6 million years ago), and are examples of the volcanic forces that built much of the central and southern parts of the country. Mexico is situated on the western, or leading, edge of the huge North American Plate, whose interaction with the Pacific, Cocos, and Caribbean plates has given rise to numerous and severe earthquakes as well as the earth-building processes that produce southern Mexico’s rugged landscape. It is in this dynamic and often unstable physical environment that the Mexican people have built their country.


The federal government, known as the Supreme Power of the Federation, is constituted by the Powers of the Union: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. Mexico City, as the capital of Mexico, seats all the powers of the Union. All branches of government are independent no two separate branches must be vested upon a single person or institution, and the legislative power must not be vested upon a single individual.

Executive branch Edit

The President of the United Mexican States is the head of the executive branch of the country. He also the head of state, the head of government, and the supreme commander of the Armed Forces. The President is elected by direct, popular, and universal suffrage. Once elected, the candidate assumes the position on October 1 of the election year. (Prior to the Electoral Reform of 2014, the office was assumed on December 1 of the election year.) His position lasts for a period of six years, with no possibility of reelection, not even in the case of having served as interim, provisional or substitute. The office of President of the Republic is only waived for serious cause, which must be qualified by the Congress of the Union. In case of death, dismissal, or resignation, the Secretariat of the Interior immediately and provisionally assumes the position (if the absence is the day of the inauguration, it would be the president of the senate, the provisional president). Later, with the reservations contemplated by the constitution, it is up to Congress to appoint a substitute or interim.

The current Constitution of 1917 provides for said position in its third title third chapter and is addressed by fifteen articles. They specify the obligations, powers requirements, and restrictions to the position specifications ranging from the command of the armed forces ownership of foreign, economic policies, social development, and public safety the promulgation and enforcement of laws issued by the legislative branch propose appointments to positions that require of the Senate or the Supreme Court and various prerogatives granted in other articles of the same magna letter and federal laws.

The President is the head of the Federal Public Administration and is assisted by a cabinet composed of several Secretariats of State, federal agencies, decentralized agencies, and parastatals, which are in charge of various public interest portfolios, in addition to various advisers on call to the Office of the Presidency. The President is protected by the Presidential General Staff, which is the military technical body that assists the president in obtaining general information, planning the personal activities of the position, performing safety precautions, and participating in the execution of the activities coming for these purposes.

Since the beginning of his term, the official residence of president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been the National Palace, a building facing the Mexico City Zócalo. The National Palace is also the formal seat of the Executive Power and had been the official seat of power in Mexico since early colonial times, until it was moved in 1937 to Los Pinos.

Legislative Branch Edit

The legislative power [1] is vested upon the Congress of the Union, a bicameral congress comprising the Senate (Spanish: Cámara de Senadores or Senado) and the Chamber of Deputies (Spanish: Cámara de Diputados). 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 that concern foreign policy, approves international agreements, and confirms presidential appointments.

The Chamber of Deputies is formed by 500 representatives of the nation. All deputies are elected in free universal elections every three years, in parallel voting: 300 deputies are elected in single-seat constituencies by first-past-the-post plurality (called uninominal deputies), and the remaining 200 are elected by the principle of proportional representation (called plurinominal deputies) with closed-party lists for which the country is divided into five constituencies or plurinominal circumscriptions. Deputies cannot be reelected for the next immediate term.

Being a supplementary system (PM) of parallel voting, proportionality is only confined to the plurinominal seats. However, to prevent a party to be overrepresented, several restrictions to the assignation of plurinominal seats are applied:

  • A party must obtain at least 2% of votes to be assigned a plurinominal seat
  • A party's percentage of deputies in the Chamber (uninominal and plurinominal together) cannot be more than 8% greater than the percentage of votes the party obtained in the elections
  • No party can have more than 300 seats (uninominal and plurinominal together), even if the party gets more than 52% of the votes.

The Senate consists of 128 representatives of the constituent states of the federation. All senators are elected in free universal elections every six years through a parallel voting system as well: 64 senators are elected by first-past-the-post plurality, two per state and two for Mexico City elected jointly 32 senators are assigned through the principle of "first minority", that is, they are awarded to the first runner-up party for each constituent state and Mexico City and 32 are elected by proportional representation with closed-party lists, for which the country forms a single constituency.

Judicial branch Edit

The judiciary [2] 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.

State and local powers Edit

The entities of the Mexican Federation are free and sovereigns, autonomous in its internal regime. They have the power to govern themselves according to their own laws they have their own constitution that doesn't have to contradict the principles of the federal constitution. The powers of its executive and legislative branches they are understood as those that are the rights of the entities as the ownership of the command of the public force (state police and national guard attached), direction and regulation of their own economic policies, of social development and public safety as well as the administration of those resources that arise from their local taxes or own income. Griselda Álvarez was the first female governor in Mexico. Álvarez was Governor of the state of Colima from 1979 to 1985.

Internal organization of the states Edit

The states are divided internally into municipalities—or mayors, in the case of Mexico City. Each municipality enjoys autonomy in its capacity to choose its own town hall which is responsible, in most cases to provide all the public services required by its population. To this concept, which would arise from the Mexican Revolution, it is known as free municipality. The town hall is headed by a municipal president elected every three years.

Mexico City (formerly Federal District) Edit

Mexico City does not belong to any state in particular, but to the federation, being the capital of the country and seat of the powers of the Union. As such, it is constituted as a special jurisdiction, ultimately administered by the Powers of the Union. [3] Nonetheless, since the late 1990s certain autonomy and powers have been gradually devolved. The executive power is vested upon a head of government elected by first-past-the-post plurality. The legislative power is vested upon a unicameral Legislative Assembly. The judicial power is exercised by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and the Judiciary Council.

Mexico City was divided into delegaciones or boroughs. Though not fully equivalent to a municipality in that they do not have regulatory powers, they have gained limited autonomy in recent years, and the representatives to the head of government are now elected by the citizens as well. In 2016, the name was changed to Mexico City and the 16 delegations were transformed into municipalities, each one with its own mayor.

Assorted References

It is assumed that the first inhabitants of Middle America were early American Indians, of Asian derivation, who migrated into the area at some time during the final stage of the Pleistocene Epoch. The date of their arrival in central Mexico remains speculative. The…

In Mexico, to take but one example, the years 1825–55 saw 48 turnovers in the national executive. Neither those in power nor those seeking office evinced consistent respect for the often idealistic provisions of constitutions. In some cases the very authors of constitutions broke the rules…

…Mexican Jesuit priest martyred during anti-Roman Catholic persecutions of the 1920s in Mexico.

In Mexico, governments began large-scale appropriations of church holdings. This inspired the Cristero Rebellion (1926–29), in which communities rose up in violent defense of the church without the support of the bishops.

…is now central and southern Mexico. The Aztecs are so called from Aztlán (“White Land”), an allusion to their origins, probably in northern Mexico. They were also called the Tenochca, from an eponymous ancestor, Tenoch, and the Mexica, probably from Metzliapán (“Moon Lake”), the mystical name for Lake Texcoco. From…

incorporation into Agustín de Iturbide’s Mexican empire, a stance that led to confrontations with Guatemalan and Mexican armies. Faced with defeat late in 1822, a Salvadoran congress sought adoption of a resolution providing for the province’s annexation to the United States, but this scheme was abandoned when Iturbide’s government collapsed…

…Aztec empire (1519–21) and won Mexico for the crown of Spain.

…of Porfirio Díaz’s presidency of Mexico (1876–80 1884–1911), an era of dictatorial rule accomplished through a combination of consensus and repression during which the country underwent extensive modernization but political liberties were limited and the free press was muzzled. The Díaz government, like other “progressive dictatorships” in Latin America, worked…

…Burr planned an invasion of Mexico in order to establish an independent government there. Possibly—the record is inconclusive—they also discussed a plan to foment a secessionist movement in the West and, joining it to Mexico, to found an empire on the Napoleonic model. In any event, Wilkinson became alarmed and…

…political and social revolution in Mexico between 1854 and 1876 under the principal leadership of Benito Juárez.

The leader of the Mexican venture, Hernán (Hernando) Cortés, had some university education and was unusually articulate, but he conformed to the general type of the leader, being senior, wealthy, and powerful in Cuba, and the expedition he organized was also of the usual…

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico in Mexico City, begun in the 16th century by Claudio de Arciniega, is Classical in its layout, with extraordinary fragments of an exuberant Baroque decoration applied on the surface. The cathedral’s Altar of the Kings (1718–37), by Jerónimo de

During the 1930s, when the political and economic reconstruction of Mexico was under way, modern architecture seemed more suitable for the construction of the schools, hospitals, and public housing of the new state than did the previous Neocolonial style. The Institute of Hygiene (1925)…

…the cueca chilena, which in Mexico was simply called la chilena, to the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero. The Mexican version, among others, suggested an amorous conquest of the rooster over the hen the man’s red handkerchief symbolized the cock’s comb. As the dance progressed, the man indicated changes of…

Both accepted union with Mexico (1822–23), but they fought one another until 1826, when Nicaragua took up its role in the United Provinces of Central America. After Nicaragua seceded from the federation in 1838, the rivalry between León, which identified with the Liberal Party, and Granada, the centre of…

The years 1876–1911 in Mexico, meanwhile, marked the iron-fisted rule of Porfirio Díaz, who began his career as a liberal fighting under a banner of election for one term only and ended up as a dictator who customarily manipulated his country’s political structures to ensure that he and his…

The 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City were the most politically charged Olympics since the 1936 Games in Berlin. Ten days before the Games were to open, students protesting the Mexican government’s use of funds for the Olympics rather than for social programs were surrounded in the Plaza of Three…

Mexican radio broadcasting began before regulation and more formal licensing appeared in 1926. By 1930 there were about 30 commercial and 10 government-operated stations, many of the latter being very vocal supporters of the still-young Mexican revolution. The Education Ministry operated its own station…

…of all radio programming in Mexico, for example—as news increasingly became a service associated with television.

…threatened travel and commerce throughout Mexico. Such a force had been planned four years earlier but could not be established during the War of Reform. In 1869, after the overthrow of the empire of Maximilian, it was reconstituted under the Ministry of the Interior (Ministro de Gobernación) and charged with…

anarquía, “anarchy”), fascist movement in Mexico, based on the Unión Nacional Sinarquista, a political party founded in 1937 at León, Guanajuato state, in opposition to policies established after the Revolution of 1911, especially in opposition to the anticlerical laws. It originated at the instigation of a German professor of languages…

…archduke Maximilian were emperors of Mexico from 1822 to 1823 and from 1864 to 1867, respectively. The title emperor also is generally and loosely used as the English designation for the sovereigns of Ethiopia and of Japan, for the Mughal rulers of India, for the former sovereigns of China, for…

In Mexico the Franciscan friars linked indigenous religion and magic with the Devil prosecutions for witchcraft in Mexico began in the 1530s, and by the 1600s indigenous peasants were reporting stereotypical pacts with the Devil. Like the Spanish colonies, the English colonies repeated the European stereotype…

French intervention

…a French satellite state in Mexico. The battle, which ended in a Mexican victory, is celebrated in the national calendar of Mexican holidays as Cinco de Mayo (5th of May).

The French intervention in Mexico (1862–67), although not a success for France, proved the salvation of the legion, once again on the verge of disbandment. It participated in some interesting tactical experiments, such as mounted units, and also staked out what would become its defining legend on April 30,…

…Austria and the emperor of Mexico, a man whose naive liberalism proved unequal to the international intrigues that had put him on the throne and to the brutal struggles within Mexico that led to his execution.

…brief and minor conflict between Mexico and France, arising from the claim of a French pastry cook living in Tacubaya, near Mexico City, that some Mexican army officers had damaged his restaurant. A number of foreign powers had pressed the Mexican government without success to pay for losses that some…

Independence movement

The independence of Mexico, like that of Peru, the other major central area of Spain’s American empire, came late. As was the case in Lima, Mexican cities had a powerful segment of Creoles and peninsular Spaniards whom the old imperial system…

…that declared the independence of Mexico from Spain and drafted a constitution, which received final approval (Oct. 22, 1814) at the Congress of Apatzingán. José María Morelos y Pavón, who called the congress at Chilpancingo, had assumed leadership of the Mexican independence movement after the execution of its initiator, Miguel…

…plan called for an independent Mexico ruled by a European prince (or by a Mexican—i.e., Iturbide himself—if no European could be found), retention by the Roman Catholic Church and the military of all of their powers, equal rights for creoles and peninsulares (those of Spanish ancestry on both sides, born…

…viceroyalty of New Spain (Mexico). In 1821 they became independent from Spain, and in 1822 they were joined to the ephemeral empire of Mexico, ruled by Agustín de Iturbide. Following Iturbide’s abdication in March 1823, delegates from the Central American provinces, representing mostly upper-class creoles, assembled at Guatemala City…

International trade

…the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The pact effectively created a free-trade bloc among the three largest countries of North America. NAFTA went into effect in 1994 and remained in force until it was replaced in 2020.

Mexican Revolution

…of the 30-year dictatorship in Mexico and the establishment of a constitutional republic. The revolution began against a background of widespread dissatisfaction with the elitist and oligarchical policies of Porfirio Díaz that favoured wealthy landowners and industrialists. When Díaz in 1908 said that he welcomed the democratization of Mexican political…

…Mexico—died April 10, 1919, Morelos), Mexican revolutionary, champion of agrarianism, who fought in guerrilla actions during and after the Mexican Revolution (1910–20).

…bring genuine political democracy to Mexico. The dictatorship, decaying from within, collapsed, but it was many years before the country settled down, since Madero’s uprising unleashed forces that neither he nor anyone else could control. Miners, urban workers, and peasants saw an opportunity to seek redress of their own grievances,…

…1864 she accompanied Maximilian to Mexico to accept the Mexican crown offered him by Napoleon III of France. The ambitious Carlota welcomed her authority in Mexico, learned Spanish, and became genuinely interested in Mexican history, art, and culture. When in 1866 Napoleon withdrew his troops in the face of Mexican…

U.S. relations

…the United States, drove a Mexican force from San Antonio and occupied the Alamo. Some Texan leaders—including Sam Houston, who had been named commanding general of the Texas army the month before—counseled the abandonment of San Antonio as impossible to defend with the small body of troops available, but the…

…including the many migrants and Mexican nationals who cross the border in harvest seasons. Long abused, migrant labourers organized in the late 1960s under the leadership of Cesar Chavez and began lengthy strikes that drew nationwide support in the form of consumer boycotts. Thereafter, however, Chavez’s United Farm Workers union…

…settlers known as Californios when Mexico became independent of Spain in 1821. Between 1833 and 1840 the mission ranches were parceled out to political favourites by the Mexican government. The padres withdrew, and the Native Americans were cruelly exploited and diminished. In 1841 the first wagon train of settlers left…

…conquest of much of northern Mexico by the United States in 1848. Known in Mexican history as the sale of the Mesilla Valley, it assigned to the United States nearly 30,000 additional square miles (78,000 square km) of northern Mexican territory (La Mesilla), now southern Arizona and southern New Mexico,…

…on a special mission to Mexico in 1822 and 1823, publishing an account of his experiences in Notes on Mexico in 1824. In 1825 he became the first U.S. minister to Mexico, a post he held until 1829. Deeply involved in Mexican politics, he finally became persona non grata to…

…the mark of Spain and Mexico in their architecture and place-names. With the urbanization of the state in the late 20th century and the decrease in the demand for agricultural workers, large Hispanic populations have converged on the major metropolitan centres that lie farther from the border. Spanish remains the…

…signed on February 2, 1848, Mexico gave up its claim to Texas and also ceded area now in the U.S. states of New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, and western Colorado. Texas claimed most of this additional area but later relinquished it in the Compromise of 1850.

Mexico, which was torn by revolution and counterrevolution, proved most vexing of all. First adopting a policy of “watchful waiting” and then seeking to overthrow the military dictatorship of Victoriano Huerta only dragged the United States into interventions by the navy at Veracruz in 1914…

…in that same month the Mexican president, Venustiano Carranza, whose country’s relations with the United States had been critical since March, had virtually offered bases on the Mexican coast to the Germans for their submarines. Zimmermann on Jan. 16, 1917, sent a coded telegram to his ambassador in Mexico instructing…

…of a sensational proposal to Mexico to enter into an alliance against the United States.


Early History
Mexico City is located in a valley that was inhabited by several indigenous groups from 100 to 900 A.D. These tribes were related to the Toltecas, who established Tula in approximately 850 A.D. in the modern-day state of Hidalgo. When the Toltecas declined in power and influence, the Acolhula, Chichimeca and Tepenaca cultures rose up in their place.

Did you know? During the Aztec period, Mexico City was initially built over a lake, the Lago de Texcoco. Aztecs built an artificial island by dumping soil into the lagoon. Later, the Spaniards erected a second Mexico City atop the ruins of Tenochtitlán.

Tenochtitlán was founded in 1325 A.D. by the Mexicas. Its development fulfilled one of their ancient prophecies: The Mexicas believed that their god would show them where to build a great city by providing a sign, an eagle eating a snake while perched atop a cactus. When the Mexicas (who would later be known as the Aztecs) saw the vision come true on an island in Lake Texcoco, they decided to build a city there.

The Aztecs were fierce warriors who eventually dominated other tribes throughout the region. They took what was once a small natural island in the Lake Texcoco and expanded it by hand to create their home and fortress, the beautiful Tenochtitlán. Their civilization, like their city, eventually became the largest and most powerful in pre-Columbian America.

Middle History
Skilled warriors, the Aztecs dominated all of Mesoamerica during this era, making some allies but even more enemies. When Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés made it clear in 1519 that he intended to conquer the area, many local chieftains seized the opportunity to liberate themselves from Aztec rule and joined his army.When Cortés and his allies arrived in the area, Moctezuma II believed that the Spaniard was (or was related to) the god Quetzalc༺tl, whose return had been prophesied. Moctezuma sent gifts to the Spanish, hoping they would depart and spare his city. Undaunted, Cortés marched his army to the city and entered it. Not wishing to offend a god, Moctezuma welcomed Cortés and his soldiers into the city and extended every courtesy. After enjoying the king’s hospitality for several weeks, Cortés suddenly ordered that the emperor be placed under house arrest, intending to use him to gain leverage with the Aztecs. For months after, Moctezuma continued to appease his captors, losing most of his subjects’ respect in the process. In 1520, Cortés and his troops conquered the Tenochtitlán. The Spanish then built Mexico City on the ruins of the once great city.

During the colonial period (1535-1821), Mexico City was one of the most important cities in the Americas. Although the native Indians needed work permits to enter the Spanish-dominated city, the population inevitably intermingled and created the Mestizo class, mixed-blood citizens who eventually became a political force. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the caste system prevailed in Mexico City, separating the population into complex ethnic divisions including the Mestizos, Criollos and Coyotes. The Catholic Church had great influence in the city, and religious orders like the Franciscans, Marists and Jesuits established convents and missions throughout Mexico.

The Spanish Crown’s power relied on the support and loyalty of New Spain’s aristocracy. Political power remained in the hands of the Spaniards born in Spain, but by the 18th century, the Criollo class (descendants of the Spanish who were born in the Americas) had grown in number and social power. The struggle for recognition and favor among the various classes drew attention to the country’s political corruption and helped spark the independence movement.

The catalyst for Mexico’s independence was a Catholic priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, who made the first public cry for rebellion in Dolores, Hidalgo, in 1810. Hidalgo had begun attending meetings of educated criollos who were agitating for a large-scale uprising of mestizos and indigenous peasants. Discontent with Spanish rule was spreading rapidly throughout the country. When rumors of military intervention by the Spanish began, the priest decided it was time to act. Parishioners who came to hear mass on Sunday, September 16, 1810, instead heard a call to arms.

Sparked by the energy of the grassroots rebellion, militant revolutionary armies quickly formed under the leadership of men like Guadalupe Victoria and Vicente Guerreroboth. The War of Independence lasted 11 years. In 1821, the last Viceroy of New Spain, Juan O𠆝onoju, signed the Plan of Iguala, which granted Mexico independence.

Recent History
When Mexico’s Distrito Federal (Federal District, also known as Mexico D.F.) was created in 1824, it originally encompassed Mexico City and several other municipalities. As Mexico City grew, it became one large urban area. In 1928, all other municipalities within the Distrito Federal were abolished except Mexico City, making it by default the country’s Distrito Federal. In 1993, the 44th Article of the Constitution of Mexico officially declared Mexico City and the Distrito Federal to be a single entity.

In 1846, after two decades of peace, Mexico City was invaded by the United States during the Mexican-American War. Under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the war in 1848, Mexico was forced to cede a wide swath of its northern territory to the United States. Today, that territory makes up the U.S. states of New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, California and portions of Utah and Wyoming. Mexico was also forced to recognize the independence of Texas.

On July 17, 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez suspended all interest payments to Spain, France and Britain, who launched a combined assault on Veracruz in January 1862. When Britain and Spain withdrew their forces, the French took control of the country. Supported by Mexican conservatives and by French Emperor Napoleon III, Maximiliano de Hamburgo arrived in 1864 to rule Mexico. His policies were more liberal than expected, but he soon lost Mexican support and was assassinated on June 19, 1867, when the liberal government of Benito Juárez regained Mexico’s leadership of the country.

Mexican history: a brief summary

Native Mexican Americans first settled along what used to be the shores of shallow lake Texcoco, present day Mexico City, in 1500 BC. By the early 1300s AD, the Aztecs established roots on an Island in this lake which later became the capital of the Aztec Empire: the City of Tenochtitlan.

In 1521 the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez captured and razed the city, building a Spanish city in its place. The new city served as capital of the then colony of New Spain which extended as far south as Panama. In 1821, Mexican revolutionaries under General Agustin de Iturbide, a Spanish creole, captured Mexico City and broke all ties with the Spanish crown. The city was occupied by the United States in 1847 during the Mexican War and by France for four years starting in 1862, when Maximilian archduke of Austria, was named Emperor of Mexico by Napoleon III.

Heavy fighting ensued from 1910 to 1915, the years of the Mexican Revolution. The end of the Revolutionary movement marked the beginning of a period of dramatic social changes which led to the creation of the Mexican Constitution of 1917. Widespread land reform and nationalization of the country’s basic industries were achieved during the 1930’s.

The last 60 years have been characterized by industrial expansion, rapid population growth and political domination. In the first six years of the 1980s things slowed down as a result of a recessionary world economy. Vast austerity and strict debt restructuring measures were a direct result of that decade for the Mexican economy.

In the past few years, the Mexican government has carefully tried to steer a new and prosperous Mexico in the direction of becoming a first world economy. However, and despite the efforts in allying itself as partner in trade with Canada and the United States unexpected political and economical events in the early 1990s have conspired to delay achievement of this goal.

These next few pages, summarize the evolution of the Mexican people since the early settlers to the present day restructuring of the Mexican Economy. We believe that the following information will provide you with the historical insight, to be better able to understand the importance of the events of the past 500 years. Events which are a direct reflection of where Mexico, as a young and promising economy, is today and more importantly where it is heading towards.

PRE HISPANIC PERIOD: 2000 B.C. – 1521 A.D.

Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards the struggle for life characterized Indian life. Conflicts frequently arose between different groups over competition for such life sustaining resources as hunting grounds, arable lands, irrigation water and trading goods.

Two types of civilizations emerged in Mesoamerica: the highland and the lowland type. The highland type was advanced in organization and culture. It was characterized by a conglomerate of states and empires consisting of elaborate social class structures, complex organizational traits, advanced urbanization and architecture, bureaucracies, and densely settled agrarian areas. The lowland type, was composed of primitive aboriginal groups with little or no social structure, government or architecture. After 1,000 B.C., the growing problem of food supply forced these groups to develop more complex forms of social organization.

These new civilizations had a social structure dominated by a ruling class priest. From their ceremonial centers these priests, acting as the representative of the gods, distributed land, allocated food surpluses, stored seeds, sponsored trade and employed skilled craftsmen.

These theocracies reached their peak in the central highland cities of Teotihuacan (outside the boundaries to the north of today’s Mexico City), Monte Alban (to the southwest in the State of Oaxaca), and in the great centers of the Mayas of southern Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula.

The growing opulence of the urban religious centers bred envy and later resentment in the surrounding villages, whose labor provided the surplus needed to support the magnificence of those empires. Conflict arose on the peripheries of these civilizations. A spreading revolt most likely interrupted trading activities, consequently disrupting food supplies. As a result, these theocratic centers were either abandoned or conquered.

According to theories by archaeologist and historians, a combination of natural disasters and over population brought both the Mayans and the Teotihuacans to an end. The land could no longer provide the necessary resources to support the needs of such great ceremonial centers. Up until 650 A.D. these classic societies remained generally peaceful and non-expansionist.

Between 650 and 675 B.C. warlike groups invaded, burned and plundered Teotihuacan. The fall of this urban center was followed by the collapse of Monte Alban and the great Mayan city of Chi-chen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula. By 900 A.D. the golden pre-Columbian civilization had ended.

Some of the Mayan survivors migrated to other areas and founded new cities others became assimilated into new conquering tribes. One of the most notorious were the Toltecs. They were centered around the city of Tula on the central plateau of Mexico.

The Toltecs were more military oriented tribes who began to organize their society more rigidly. They developed a very complex society based on warfare and military expansion, intensive agriculture and a tight network of government control. The Toltecs levied tribute on the agriculture surplus of their many subject tribes and widely practiced human sacrifices.

The Toltec civilization flourished from 1000 to 1300 A.D. before experiencing its demise and fall brought about by being in a state of constant warfare.

The Aztecs

In the 12th century the Aztecs arrived from the north and settled in what is now Mexico City and surrounding areas. Initially they were subservient to other groups in the area, but by the 13th century, the Aztecs, also known as the Mexica, hadextended their empire over a large part of present day Mexico.

By the 15th century the Aztecs, now a warlike tribe that once had hired its warriors out to Tula’s mercenaries, had by this time restored order in the region. In a considerable short period of time, the Aztecs managed to create a dominant empire by conquering all other groups in the region. By the time the Spanish adventurers reached Tenochtitlan, the capital of the empire, they were surprised to find a civilization of imposing appearance comprised of over 450,000 people. The largest city the New World at that time was Florence, Italy, the capital city of the arts and culture of the Renaissance, then 200,000 people. The complexity and well engineered organization of the empire and the cultural knowledge of the Aztecs were greatly admired by the Spanish conquerors in later years. However, the richness of the new discovered land with its minerals, spices and raw goods was what Spain needed at the time to strengthen its position as the world’s greatest power.

The Aztec empire was formed by three large cities. The capital of the empire, Tenochtitlan and two smaller cities, Tlacopan and Texcoco which dominated their confederacy. Their civilization was organized into clans with stratified and pyramidal internal social hierarchies. At the top were the warriors and priests. This higher group was tax exempt, with the exception of the military service owned by the warriors. It also dominated all high offices and was responsible for collecting the tributes from their many subordinate groups throughout the empire. The priest and warriors wore distinguishable insignia and dresses they practiced polygamy, and monopolized the land and all educational systems.

Following beneath in the social hierarchy existed a class of free peasants and a mass of serfs. There was also a small group of non-Aztec merchants, who controlled all trade activities. They were known as Pochtecas. This group was settled in the twin city of Tlatelolco, next to the Empire’s capital.

The Aztecs believed in a hierarchy of different gods. The chief god, or Teotl in the Aztec language, was called Huitzilopochtli. He was the god of the sun and war. There were several other lesser deities. Among the most notorious was Quetzalcoatl (feathered snake), a serpent god who symbolized the arts and mortality. According to Aztec beliefs, Quetzalcoatl had been exiled his return would one day symbolize the end of the Aztec civilization.


The Spanish conquest of Mexico began in 1517 with three armed expeditions launched from the island of Cuba. These expeditions were organized by Governor Diego de Velazquez de Cuellar. This conquest resulted in a new culture: the Mexican culture. These series of military expeditions were originally intended to establish a colony on the mainland from which mineral riches and a labor force could be supplied to replace the quickly depleted indigenous population of the West Indies.

The first expedition from Cuba in 1517, was under the command of Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba. It reached the Yucatan peninsula in 1517. The following year, the second expedition under the command of Juan Grijalva, explored the Mexican coast as far as the site of the present-day State of Veracruz. It was during this expedition that the Spaniards discovered of the magnificence and richness of the Aztec empire.

The third and most influential expedition, historically speaking, lasted less than three years and was led by a Spanish adventurer by the name of Hernan Cortez. It was one that would forever change the course of history in the Americas. Cortez landed in 1519, in what today is the State of Veracruz, with eleven ships, six hundred men, sixteen horses and a small number of light cannons. Shortly thereafter he founded the town of Veracruz and from there proceeded inland. On his way, many disgruntled Aztec subjects allied themselves with Cortez. This gave Cortez’s troops strength. He reached the capital of the Aztec empire, Tenochtitlan in November of 1519 and soon after he captured the Aztec emperor Montezuma II.

Historians attribute Cortez’s success in vanquishing the formidable imperial armies to superior technology and planning. Cortez posed as the god Quetzalcoatl (something which enabled him to reach the capital and capture the emperor without violence or force). He also made smart use of local Indian mercenaries who were familiar with the language and the territory.

Despite the Spaniard’s initial success, the Aztecs besieged their capital city Tenochtitlan on the night of June 30, 1520. This night is also know as the Night of Sadness. Cortez was defeated and forced to retreat causing many casualties among the Spanish and their Indian allies.

The following summer, Cortez and his Spanish troops, accompanied by thousands of Indian mercenaries, sacked and conquered Tenochtitlan. With their capital in ruins and the ruling emperor dead, the Aztecs finally collapsed. Cortez named his conquest New Spain.

The rise of New Spain

The Spanish crown rapidly sought to consolidate its new empire and control Cortez’s personal power. A royal court was established in 1528 and the first Viceroy, Antonio de Mendoza, took office in 1535. Cortez’s followers received grants of Indian villages from which they could collect tribute. These grants gave the colonists control over Indian labor and produce. Many clergy objected to these grants. One Spanish missionary in particular, Bartolome de las Casas, encouraged the Indians to revolt unsuccessfully against Spanish control and abuses in 1541.

In close alliance with the Roman Catholic Church, the Spanish crown sought to create a well ordered colony free of feudal privilege and religious dissent.

The friars capitalized on both the subject tribes widespread hatred of the Aztecs and the similarities between Catholicism and Indian folk religion to carry out mass conversions. In the Spaniard’s eyes, an Indian who accepted Christianity became theoretically humanized and therefore protected by Spanish law. The Church often built its shrines on sites where Indian idols once stood.

The Spanish crown and colonists controlled a vast wealth that came from several sources. However, silver mining remained the main “cash crop” for the society. Urban mining centers flourished in Zacatecas, Taxco, Fresnillo and later in Durango and Chihuahua. Large estates and ranches fed the mining centers. Other estates grew wheat, sugarcane and indigo for export. Colonial merchants distributed such goods as cotton, silk and dye that the Indians produced. However, Spain followed a policy of mercantilism which prohibited the colonists from manufacturing products which competed with goods shipped by or manufactured in Spain.

Period of decline

In the 17th century the economy of New Spain collapsed. Disease and overwork had combined to wipe out much of the Indian population. By 1700, little over 1 million of an estimated 11 million Indians survived in New Spain. In addition, the vast cattle and sheep herds destroyed farm land. The Spanish monopolized irrigation water and it became almost impossible for the Indian farmer to grow food. Without Indian labor the mines could no longer function. The population structure changed, retreating into rural estates called haciendas, which became self sufficient centers of political and economic power.

Bourbon reforms

In the 18th century, a new Spanish dynasty re-organized the colonies. During the reign of the Bourbons, political boundaries were re-shuffled, the crown improved tax collection, reduced export and import duties, and appointed honest officials. As a result, the economy boomed. Mining production rose fourfold and agriculture and trade increased. Acapulco, on the Pacific Ocean, flourished as a center of trade with the Orient, and Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico, dominated the Caribbean and European trade. The colonists also developed the textile, rope, tobacco, china, and spice industries, which were all supported by locally produced raw materials.

Puebla, the center of woolen mills and pottery became a large colonial urban center. Guanajuato and Guadalajara also became centers of wealth and industry. Mexico City, the colony’s administrative center, which grew to a population of 250,000, was home to the Viceroy and held the largest university on the continent.

During the 1800’s New Spain enjoyed an enviable position. Mining, industry and agriculture thrived. It also possessed major centers of learning and urban administration. The population had grown to 7.5 million, of which 42% were of Indian descent, 18% were white and 38% were mestizo. The Viceroy’s power extended south to present day Panama and as far north as California.

However, this colonial system contained the seeds of its own destruction. Native born Criollos, people of European decent, born in New Spain, resented Spanish monopolization of political power and the economic system which favored the Spanish-born. At the same time, Spain’s authority in Europe declined as did it’s position as a world leader. As a result, the rural masses lacked land and had no purchasing power. In addition, New Spain’s territorial boundaries were too remote. No roads connected the frontier areas with the administrative centers and troops for defense were in short supply. These problems prompted the final break from Spain in 1820.

Independence to 1910

This hundred year period starts with the movement for Mexican Independence. This movement was directed against Colonial Officials and it came about at the convergence of two revolts. The first, was lead by two priests, “Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla” and “Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon”. On September 16, 1810 Miguel Hidalgo made a rousing speech, in the town of Dolores, to lead an Indian uprising calling for Independence from the Spanish crown. This speech became known as “the cry of sorrows”.

Hidalgo’s forces marched towards Mexico City under the banner of the Mexican Virgin of Guadalupe. At the same time, this first revolt was gaining support from the southern State of Guerrero. These guerrilla forces were being led by Jose Morelos, who later assumed leadership of the Independence Movement after Father Hidalgo was executed in 1811.The Spanish bureaucracy and rich Criollos defeated this rebellion and executed priest Morelos together with other leaders of the revolt in 1815.

The second revolt came about when the same group of wealthy Criollos, who feared that Spain dominated by Liberals at the time, would acquiesce to the revolutionaries’ demands for land redistribution. This second revolt was led by “General Agustin de Iturbide”. With further support from reactionary Spaniards, Iturbide was able to declare Mexico independent in 1821. As the result of this, in 1822, Iturbide was proclaimed Emperor Agustin I. His fiscally plagued empire would be overthrown a year later when unpaid troops would put an end to this short lived empire. Guadalupe Victoria became the first president of Mexico in 1823. He set up a republic and was responsible for beginning an era which ushered in chaos for the next 50 years.

The age of Santa Anna

Historians have called the years between 1823 and 1855 the age of Santa Anna. General Antonio Lopez Santa Anna was one of the leaders of the coup which had overthrown Iturbide years earlier. Santa Anna would become president of Mexico, several times. He became more a representative than a dominant figure.

During Santa Anna’s time, Mexico faced staggering problems which were probably beyond the ability of any individual or group to solve: The government was saddled with an internal debt of millions of pesos incurred by Spain and Iturbide, and military expenses greatly exceeded revenues. As a solution to this problem, the harassed government sought funds abroad, but foreign loans could only be obtained at heavy rates of interest and discount. However, once the money reached Mexico, government officials spent it on second-hand war material or stole it.

It was characteristic of this era to see the rise and fall of bankrupt governments. It was also during this era that two political groups competed for dominance: the Liberals and the Conservatives. The Liberals represented the regional power centers and free-trading interests. This group wanted to model the new Mexican nation after the United States. The Conservatives were supported by the army, Mexico City and other colonial administrative and manufacturing centers. Both parties would eventually turn to the wealth of the church to alleviate insurmountable fiscal problems.

Santa Anna during these years moved in and out of power, sometimes being a Liberal, and other times a conservative.

By the 1850’s these chaotic events led to disaster. Mining virtually stopped, agriculture declined and trade and industry suffered from expensive internal tariffs, foreign competition, banditry and political violence. Immigration was non-existent. Texas had declared its independence on March 2, 1836 and by 1846, Mexico was embroiled in a war with the United States. Soon into the war, the disunited Mexicans were routed. Mexico lost over half of its territory, including the areas of the present States of California, New Mexico and Northern Arizona. Santa Anna in exchange for his freedom signed the peace treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo with the United States.

Mexico was almost ruined: the national debt had reached astronomical proportions and the army had degenerated into banditry. Santa Anna returned to power in 1853 as “perpetual dictator” and sold Southern Arizona to the United States for ten million dollars.

Liberal Reform

In 1855 a brilliant group of liberals led by Melchor Ocampo, Ignacio Comonfort and Benito Juarez forced Santa Anna from power and ended his dominance in Mexican national life.

In order to restore the shattered economy, the liberals decreed that the Church had to sell most of its land and that Indian communal lands had to be distributed to individual peasants. These reforms did not create a rural middle class. However, the poor could not afford to purchase the newly available land.

In 1857, the liberals promulgated a new constitution. Government revenue rose but most of it went to meet the cost of a new civil war, the War of Reform (1858-1861). The conservatives sought foreign help and in 1862 Napoleon III of France sought to establish a Mexican empire under the Austrian prince, Maximilian of Hapsburg. The liberals, led by Juarez, resisted bitterly. Despite the support from French troops and Mexican conservatives, Maximilian could not consolidate his empire. The French withdrew in 1867, leaving the ill fated emperor and his wife to meet their deaths by execution. Juarez became president and initiated various reforms to modernize Mexico before dying in 1872.

The liberals made many mistakes but their accomplishments were many: they destroyed the excessive power of the army, the Church and other conservative elements. They enforced democratic principles with the federal constitution of 1857. Finally, the struggle against Maximilian created a sense of nationalism previously unknown in Mexico.

The age of General Porfirio Díaz

In 1867 General Porfirio Diaz seized power from Juarez’s liberal successors. General Diaz effectively governed Mexico until the Revolution of 1910, serving as president from 1877 to 1880 and from 1884 to 1911. It was during this age that a new Mexico emerged. Diaz established order and a workable government. Civil wars ceased and banditry disappeared from the countryside. Provincial governors obeyed laws emanating from Mexico City. The army became professionalized. The “Rurales”, a militarized police of several thousand, maintained order throughout the country. General Diaz and a group of wealthy intellectuals adopted French positivism as a national creed.

Foreign investment rushed in to take advantage of the new political and economic climates. This revived mining and created major oil fields. Exports and national income increased and new industries dotted the countryside. Formerly despised for its backwardness, Mexico became the model for much of the developing world.

Porfirian Mexico, like New Spain in the 1800’s, contained the seeds of its own destruction. The urban and rural masses remained impoverished. Mexicans of all classes hated the increasing foreign economic dominance. Finally a politically ambitious younger generation came to resent the 30 year dominance exercised by the Diaz clique.

The Revolution – 1910

The Revolution of 1910 and its collapse amazed the entire western world. The main direct cause of the revolt was due to Diaz’s monopoly of political power. Two major strikes in Mexico, one against the Cananea Copper Company in Sonora and the second at the Rio Blanco textile mills in Veracruz, created national political discontent. Consequent to these events, serious financial troubles disrupted the last years of the Diaz dictatorship.

In 1908, perhaps to refute charges about the autocratic nature of his rule, Diaz told a U.S. journalist that Mexico would be ready for free elections in 1910. Once published, the interview inspired various discontented sectors to begin organizing. The opposition eventually coalesced around a northern landowner, Francisco I. Madero, who had the time, resource and contacts to organize an effective political campaign. Madero’s slogan was ” Effective Suffrage and no Reelection”. However, Diaz rigged the election and Madero lead a revolt that spread rapidly throughout the nation. The Diaz military dictatorship collapsed and Diaz had to flee the country.

Madero advocated neither social reforms nor any other drastic changes. He succeeded in angering not only the radical proponents of land reform policies and economic nationalism but also the land owners, who opposed all change and disliked Madero’s weakness. With conservative support Victoriano Huerta overthrew Madero, who was later executed.

Mexico again became engulfed in ruinous violence. A civil war soon broke out between Huerta’s forces and Francisco (Pancho) Villa in the North and Emiliano Zapata in the South. Pancho Villa, an ex- bandit, organized the cowboys of the North, while Zapata, a small farmer of the South recruited an army of angry landless peasants. Huerta and his army were defeated and in 1914 a rich landowner, Venustiano Carranza who had supported Madero, assumed executive power.

In 1915 the U.S. government recognized Carranza as head of a de facto government, despite the guerrilla raids that continued until 1917 between Carranza’s forces and those of Villa and Zapata. However, Zapata was murdered in 1919, and Pancho Villa surrendered in 1920. The victors called a convention that legislated a new constitution in 1917. In 1920 Carranza tried to prevent General Alvaro Obregon from succeeding him as president, but Obregon led a military coup that overthrew Carranza in 1921.

The Northern Regime – 1940

The governments that ruled Mexico from 1921 to 1933 are known as the Northern Dynasty. The governments of Obregon, Calles, Portes Gil, Rubio and Rodriguez were all from the northern part of Mexico This regime sought to establish order while developing the economy and increasing the internal market by land reform and higher wages.

There was bitter opposition during this period from the clergy, landowners, foreign investors and ambitious generals within their own ranks. The government brutally crushed two military revolts and the Cristero rebellion of Mexico’s militant Catholics. The northerners achieved many of their objectives through executions which created political peace and formed a new political party, the PNR (National Revolutionary Party) which unified pro-government forces and destroyed opposition parties.

The land reforms of Calles and Portes Gil expanded the internal market and created peace in rural areas. Obregon brought organized labor into the government and improved wages. Economic productivity rose, mining resumed and the northern city of Monterrey became a center for steel production. Calles established friendly relations with the United States, however efforts to control the oil industry remained a serious concern.

Despite these reforms, large pockets of discontent remained in Mexico in the 1930’s. Combined with the great depression that began in 1929, the Mexican economic recovery came to a halt. The government and its labor allies had become corrupt. Intellectuals admired the U.S. President Roosevelt’s reforms and called for the same in Mexico.

General Lazaro Cardenas became president in 1934 and, although an ally of Calles, he ended the policies of the Northern Dynasty and revived the revolutionary fervor of 1910. His government exiled Calles, carried out a vast land reform, reorganized the labor movement, and nationalized foreign oil companies. Cardenas also established state managed collective farms as the basis of Mexican agriculture. In 1940 he stepped down in favor of his minister of war, the moderate general Manuel Avila Camacho

Mexico, 1940–1996

President Avila Camacho and his successor, Miguel Aleman Valdes, established the policies that Mexico has followed since Cardenas. The government has placed emphasis on industrial and economic growth. This policy has led to one of the world’s most impressive economic growth rates, but has also led to a vast unequal distribution of wealth. Income inequalities, inflation and government repression of labor led to a massive student strike in 1968, which the government of President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz brutally repressed. The 1968 strike signified the end of the period begun by Camacho.

The term of President Luis Echeverria Alvarez in the early 1970’s, succeeded Ordaz’s. His office was marked by economic instability and political unrest. His successor, President Jose Lopez Portillo, exploited newly found oil reserves and entered a period of economic prosperity. However, the decline of the world oil market in the early 1980’s, plunged Mexico into a serious economic crisis. When Miguel De La Madrid Hurtado assumed the presidency in 1982, Mexico’s economy was on the verge of collapse. The government imposed vast austerity measures and in 1985 signed with foreign creditors the first stage of a 14 year debt restructuring plan. In September 1985, the Mexican economy suffered an additional setback when earthquakes severely damaged the capital, killing and injuring thousands. Although inflation accelerated and the foreign debt grew, economic prospects brightened as oil prices began to bounce back in 1987.

In December 1988, Carlos Salinas De Gortari became president. During 1989 the government liberalized Mexico’s foreign investment regulations to allow foreign ownership of businesses. In 1990, Mexico began negotiations with the United States and Canada to bring about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).The approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the new restructuring strategies for Mexico were supposed to make 1994 the year that would theoretically, transform the Mexican economy into one of the world’s most promising ones.

Current market trends

Mexico has made and is currently making impressive strides in promoting economic growth. Mexico’s strong and more diversified manufacturing base makes the Mexican economy more stable than it has previously been. Furthermore, the government is not faced with a large federal deficit as it was in the past. Its debt situation is better controlled and Mexican industry is generally exporting more value-added products than ever.

The administration of President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon (1994-2001) put in place an Economic Emergency Plan in the first quarter of 1995. It is a strong economic program in which the government is making steady progress in reasserting Mexico’s sound economic fundamentals, restoring stability to financial markets, and establishing a strong foundation for sustainable growth. This program has dramatically improved Mexico’s account balance and debt structure, and has also lead to a significant number of new investment opportunities and privatization in a number of key economic sectors, including secondary petrochemicals, basic infrastructure, telecommunications and natural gas.

Mexico is moving forward with strong initiatives to restructure and deregulate the economy, to stimulate creation and transfer of new technology, to strengthen industrial competitiveness and to increase domestic savings, all of which are geared towards improving Mexico’s investment climate and business confidence.

NAFTA has locked in fundamental economic reforms in Mexico and, these reforms are being widened and deepened. With the increase in commerce between United States, Canada and Mexico, the economic outlook has been dramatically improved.

This article is electronically reproduced with permission from the Mexico 2000 Business Directory.

For comprehensive information on Mexico’s history and important figures,
see Mexico Connect’s History Section.

Early, Middle, and Late Formative periods

By 2000 bc some village communities in Middle America were sustained largely or wholly by agriculture. Most of these villages were located in southern Mesoamerica, but archaeological finds in Cerro Juanaquena, Chihuahua, not far from the present-day U.S. border, suggest early agricultural development in northern Mexico as well. During the Early Formative Period numerous edible plants were improved by hybridization and more-sophisticated cultivation techniques.

The Middle Formative Period was a time of transition from simple agricultural village to more-complex societies organized around politico-religious capitals, possibly including densely populated towns. Although these and other societies must have built numerous structures of wood, reeds, and thatch—materials widely available in the surrounding forests—these have long since rotted away under the tropical sun. As a result, archaeologists have tended to focus on stone and earth-filled structures that have withstood the ravages of time. The first large stone-built ceremonial centres and the first monumental stone sculpture date from the Middle Formative Period, about 1000 bc in southern Veracruz and Tabasco. The sites in question are San Lorenzo and La Venta, both of which evolved from small farming villages to impressive urban centres. They are the two prime sites of Olmec art, which exhibited consummate control of both full round and bas-relief forms. The Olmec artists made great stone heads, altars, large mosaic masks, and stelae, and they also worked as lapidaries in exquisite jade figurines and other small objects. They often depicted human faces, although many of these had jaguar mouths and nostrils. Olmec stylistic influence reached to Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guatemala, El Salvador, and the Valley of Mexico.

The Late Formative Period saw the spread of complex societies throughout much of Middle America. Hieroglyphics and complex calendrical calculations appeared. These elements of civilization are first noted in association with the Tres Zapotes, Izapan, and early Oaxacan art styles. The true city or urban centre also came into being during this period. One of the earliest manifestations of densely settled city life occurred in the Valley of Mexico at Teotihuacán, which eventually covered an area of some 8 square miles (20 square km) and housed between 125,000 and 200,000 residents. The monumental ruins of the city, including the enormous Pyramid of the Sun and the 130-foot- (40-metre-) wide Avenue of the Dead, remain a focus of archaeological study and a major tourist draw.


Freemasonry arrived in colonial Mexico during the second half of the 18th century, brought by French immigrants who settled in the capital. However, they were condemned by the local Inquisition and forced to desist. It is probable, though no written evidence exists, that there were itinerant lodges in the Spanish army in New Spain. Freemasons may even have been able to participate in the first autonomist movements, then for independence, conveying the ideas of enlightenment in the late 18th century. Some historians, both Freemasons and non-Freemasons, including Leon Zeldis Mendel and José Antonio Ferrer Benimeli have emphasized that Freemasonry in Latin America had built its own mythology, well away from what history records. [2] The distinction between Patriotic Latin American Societies and Masonic lodges is tenuous. Between the late 18th and early 19th century, their operative structure was very similar, as is indicated by the historian Virginia Guedea. [3]

The first Masonic Lodge of Mexico, 'Arquitectura Moral', was founded in 1806. The year 1813 saw the creation of the first Grand Lodge of Mexico, Scottish Rite [4]

Jose Maria Mateos, a leading Liberal politician of the late 19th century, stated in 1884 that some illustrious autonomists and independentists, such as Miguel Hidalgo, Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon and Ignacio Allende, were Freemasons. According to Mateos, they were, for the most part, initiated in the lodge Arquitectura Moral (now Bolivar No. 73), but it is true that there are no documents to prove his point. However, there are documents that seem to prove that the first Governor of independent Mexico the emperor Agustín de Iturbide, and the Dominican friar Servando Teresa de Mier, were both Freemasons. But it is true that it was common for the Inquisition to use the charge of belonging to Freemasonry in order to attack autonomists and independentists, which guarantees the impossibility of proving the innocence of the accused, due to the clandestine nature of the Orders. Thus, the archives of the Inquisition don't eliminate the uncertainties on this subject. [ citation needed ]

From the independence in 1821 until 1982, it is believed that many of the leaders of Mexico belonged to Freemasonry. When political independence came about, the few existing lodges came out of hiding and multiplied. With the arrival of the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States Joel Roberts Poinsett, the young Mexican Freemasonry was divided into two political movements, without really being defined. Poinsett promotes the creation of the Lodge of York Rite, close to the interests of the United States. Meanwhile, conservative Freemasons of the Scottish Lodge of the young Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, headed by the last viceroy doctor from Barcelona, Manuel Codorniu, manifested their opposition to the realization of the interventionist theory Manifest Destiny in the newspaper "El Sol". Thus, Freemasons who support American-style liberalism met around the lodges of the York Rite, while Freemasons who would be seen as "conservatives" remained close to the Scottish lodges, although they considered themselves heirs of Spanish liberalism. Soon, those Freemasons who did not identify with the existing alternatives would choose a third way in founding in 1825 a national rite called the National Mexican Rite, which would aim to create a political model for, and a clean government in, Mexico.

During the French military occupation that placed Maximilian I of Mexico on the throne in 1864, various French military lodges, dependent on the Grand Orient de France, arrived in Mexico, but disappeared when the French left the country. Thus, it is very likely that these Itinerant Lodges of the French Rite, due to their status as being perceived as invaders, left no influences of ritual. At the museum of Masonic Grand Orient of France, one banner of one of those lodges is preserved.

During the nineteenth century Freemasonry was being heralded as a means of removing the influences of the Catholic Church. Several of the men who were masons had expressed a desire to free women from the church's grasp through education, and they approached Laureana Wright de Kleinhans to help spread freemasonry. Though she was totally committed to the education of women, she ultimately rejected the organization because they refused to acknowledge the equality of men and women and in fact had an initiation oath which declared "never admit to their ranks a blind man, a madman, or a woman". [5]

National Mexican Rite Edit

Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Edit

The Scottish Rite bodies in Mexico are:

Supreme Council of México, 33rd Degree for the Masonic Jurisdiction of the united states of México. The Sovereign Grand Commander:

York Rite Edit

The York Rite bodies in Mexico are integrated into two bodies that practice Royal Arch Masonry as recognized internationally: [ citation needed ]

  • The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons Unified of Mexico (Gran Capítulo de Masones del Real Arco Unificado de México)
  • The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the United States of Mexico (Gran Capítulo de Masones del Real Arco de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos)

The next degree-conferring bodies are:

  • The Grand Council of Cryptic Masons Of México
  • The Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of México

The York Rite bodies have a horizontal structure, as opposed to the vertical Scottish Rite where the philosophical degrees commence with the 4th to the 33rd degree. However, entrance has always been through the Royal Arch degrees, which enable all Master Masons who have taken the Royal Arch degrees to continue their path in search of further light in Masonry with the Cryptic and Commandery degrees. These last two degrees can be chosen separately and in no particular order.

In Mexico the Regular York Rite bodies with international recognition are the Royal Arch Chapters, the Councils of Cryptic Masons and The Grand Commanderies of the Knights Templar.

As a result, the General Grand Chapter Royal Arch Masons International only supports and acknowledges two Royal Arch Grand Chapters in Mexico:

*The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Unified of Mexico (Gran Capítulo de Masones del Real Arco Unificado de México)

Located in CDMX, and presided (2020–2022) by:

M.E.C. José de Jesus Andrade Hidalgo as Grand High Priest

M.E.C. Martín Juárez Ibarra as Grand King

M.E.C. José Julian Cholula Muñoz as Grand Scribe

M.E.C. Daniel Vázquez Dosal as Grand Secretary

M.E.C. Amado Ovidio Gil Villarello as Grand Treasurer.

The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons Unified of Mexico have next constituent chapters:

Estado de Mèxico (EDO MEX) No. 3

Sinaloa Culiacán (SIN) No. 6

Caballeros del Real Arco (CDMX) No. 9

Kodesh L'Adonai (Querétaro) No. 11

San Luis Potosí (SLP) No. 17

Constructores del Tabernáculo (NL) No. 19

*The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the United States of Mexico (Gran Capítulo de Masones del Real Arco de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos)

Located in the city of Guadalajara, state of Jalisco, and presided (2014–16) by:

M.E.C. Juan Ramón Negrete Marín as Grand High Priest

M.E.C. Christian Martinez Sandoval as Grand King

M.E.C. Mario Tanús Herrera as Grand Scribe

M.E.C. Joaquín Vega Antúnez as Grand Secretary

M.E.C. Ricardo Preciado Ploneda as Grand Treasurer.

Both Grand Chapters have Ambassadors as appointed by the General Grand Chapter:

  • Grand Chapter of Mexico - Ambassador - Manuel del Castillo Trulín- Deputy Ambassador - Jaime Pérez-Velez Olvera PGHP.
  • Grand Chapter of the USM - Ambassador - Ricardo Ruíz Guillén

*The Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of México Located in the city of Guadalajara, state of Jalisco

*The Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of México Located in Teteles, state of Puebla, and Presided (2019–2021) by:

SK Omar Ali Gúzman Castillo as Eminent Grand Commander

SK José Jaime Lovera Centeno Deputy Grand Commander

SK Luis Eduardo Luna Arredondo as Grand Generalissimo

SK Carlos Manuel Rudametkin Barajas as Grand Captain General

SK Javier García Cardoso as Grand Recorder

SK Ruben Jeronimo Escobedo as Grand Treasurer

SK Augusto Rodrigo Cervantes Gutiérrez as Past Grand Commander (2017-2019)

SK Marco Enrique Rosales Gutierrez as Past Grand Commander (2011-2017)

SK Jaime Rios Otero as Past Grand Commander (2008-2011).

The Grand Commandery of Mexico has 21 constituent Commanderies:

  • Al Aqsa No. 1
  • Caballeros de Magdala No. 2
  • Provincia de la Vera Cruz No. 3
  • Aridoamericana No. 4
  • Hugues de Paynes No. 5
  • J.B de Molay No. 6
  • Orden de la Veracruz No. 7
  • Fabian Guzmán Castillo No. 8
  • Guardianes del Santo Sepulcro No. 9
  • Rosslyn No. 10
  • Simonem Cyreneum No. 11
  • Santo Grial No. 12
  • Monte Moriat No. 13
  • Ora et Labora No. 14
  • Raza Purepecha No. 15
  • José Magallanes Caldera No. 16
  • Estado de México No. 17
  • San Bernardo UD
  • Capital City UD
  • Caballeros de Payns UD
  • Coxala UD
  • Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, U.S.A - Ambassador - SK Luis Eduardo Luna Arredondo

There are additional honorary or invitational degrees available as well as para-masonic national organizations.

Confederations Edit

Confederation of Regular Grand Lodges of the United Mexican States Edit

The Confederation of Regular Grand Lodges of the Mexican United States, Spanish: Confederación de las Grandes Regulares Logia de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, brings together the Regular Grand Lodges in Mexico since 1932. It is headed by the Masonic National Council, Spanish: Consejo Nacional Masónico, consisting of grand masters of the grand lodges members of the confederation. Each of the Grand Lodges is recognized by some of the State Grand Lodges in the United States, but no US State Grand Lodge recognizes all of them. The confederation includes the Grand Lodges of 30 states of the 31 states that constitute the United Mexican States:

  • Aguascalientes, "Profesor Edmundo Games Orozco"
  • Baja California,
  • Baja California Sur,
  • Campeche,
  • Chiapas,
  • Chihuahua, "Cosmos",
  • Coahuila, "Benito Juárez",
  • Colima, "Sur Oueste",
  • Durango, "Guadalupe Victoria"
  • Guanajuato,
  • Guerrero,
  • Hidalgo,
  • Jalisco, "Occidental Mexicana",
  • Estado de Mexico,
  • Michoacán, "Lázaro Cárdenas",
  • Morelos,
  • Nayarit,
  • Nuevo León,
  • Oaxaca, "Benito Juárez García",
  • Puebla, "Benemérito Ejército de Oriente",
  • Querétaro,
  • Quitana Roo, "Andrés Quintana Roo",
  • San Luis Potosí, "Soberana e Independiente del Potosí",
  • Sinaloa del REAyA
  • Sonora, "Pacífico",
  • Tabasco, "Restauración",
  • Tamaulipas,
  • Veracruz, "Unidad Mexicana",
  • Yucatán, "La Oriental Peninsular,
  • Zacatecas, "Jesús González Ortega".

Federal Grand Lodges Edit

York Grand Lodge of Mexico Edit

This Grand Lodge claims jurisdiction over all of Mexico and has thirty-six lodges in different parts of the country. It is the only Grand Jurisdiction in Mexico to be recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England and all the US State Grand Lodges.

Grand Lodge Valle de Mexico Edit

The Grand Lodge Valle de Mexico consists of 260 lodges. Its lodges work in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. This Grand Lodge no longer operates as a regular Grand Lodge. Since the 1990s, it has been accused of invading the territorial jurisdiction of a number of state Grand Lodges in Mexico, as well as the territorial jurisdiction of Grand Lodges in the United States of America. Also, the Grand Lodge Valle de Mexico is guilty of permitting the discussion of partisan politics in its lodges. The political parties in Mexico have been covering the resolutions and the elections of Grand Masters since 2001. As a result of these problems, the member Grand Lodges of the Confederation of Regular Mexican Grand Lodges and the Grand Lodge Valle de Mexico have terminated Masonic relations with each other.

Mexico: History

Mexico is an ancient land that, long before the arrival of the Europeans, had already seen the rise and fall of great Indian empires. The Olmec were the first, followed by the Maya, Toltec, Zapotec, Mixtec, and the Maya again. The Indian civilizations made important breakthroughs in agriculture and science. They built great cities and created remarkable works of art. At the time of the Spanish conquest, the most powerful Indian empire was that of the Aztecs.

The Spanish Conquest

The first Spaniards to reach Mexico landed on the coast of Yucatán in 1517, but they were soon driven off. In 1518 a second expedition explored part of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. This time Indians and Spaniards exchanged gifts. A third expedition, led by Hernando Cortés, landed on the Gulf coast in 1519 and founded the city of Veracruz. From this point, within less than three years, Cortés would conquer all of Mexico.

Several factors helped Cortés in his conquest. His army, although small (it numbered about 500 or 600 men), was disciplined and equipped with some horses and a few cannons, both of which the Indians had never seen before. Cortés also had the military assistance of Indian opponents of the Aztecs. In addition, many Aztecs were killed by an epidemic of smallpox, a disease new to them, brought by the Spaniards. There is also the familiar legend that the Aztec emperor Montezuma II welcomed Cortés because he believed him to be the Indian god Quetzalcóatl. In 1521 the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán (the site of present-day Mexico City) fell to the Spaniards, and the rest of Mexico followed soon after.

The Colonial Period

For 300 years, Mexico, then known as New Spain, was ruled as a Spanish colony. The colony's wealth lay in its silver mines and agriculture. The Indians taught the Spanish how to cultivate corn, tomatoes, and cacao (from which chocolate is made), crops unknown in Europe. The Spanish, in turn, introduced sugarcane, wheat and rice, and large-scale cattle and sheep raising.

But only a relative few enjoyed the colony's prosperity. The ruling minority was composed of colonists born in Spain. They were the great landowners, who controlled all important government posts and dominated commercial enterprises. The criollos, or Spaniards born in the colony, were next in importance. Although often wealthy, they were allowed only minor government offices. Next came the mestizos, who frequently worked as supervisors or storekeepers or served as soldiers or parish priests. At the bottom were the Indians, who labored in the mines or on the large estates under conditions of virtual slavery.

Wars of Independence

In 1808 the French emperor Napoleon I invaded Spain and placed his brother Joseph on the throne. The resulting conflict sparked the Mexican independence movement, whose first leader was a priest, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.

On the evening of September 16 (the date commemorated by Mexicans), 1810, Hidalgo summoned his parishioners to revolt. His army, composed mainly of mestizos and Indians, grew rapidly and won a number of victories, but they were eventually defeated by royalist troops in 1811. Hidalgo was captured and executed.

The struggle was kept alive by another priest, José María Morelos y Pavón, Hidalgo's former student. After two years of fighting and several victories, in 1813, Morelos called together a congress, which declared Mexican independence and drafted a constitution.

But Morelos was defeated in battle soon after. In 1815 he, too, was executed, leadership of the movement passing to Vicente Guerrero. The final victory was achieved after a royalist officer, Colonel Agustín de Iturbide, who had earlier been defeated by Guerrero, switched sides. Spain eventually was forced to sign the Treaty of Córdoba in 1821, acknowledging Mexico's independence.

The Struggle to Build a Nation

Although independent, Mexico had as yet no real government. Iturbide seized power in 1822, declaring himself emperor. Once again Guerrero rose to fight him, along with Antonio López de Santa Anna, an army officer. Their successful revolt overthrew Iturbide and, in 1824, made Mexico a republic. For a short period the country enjoyed constitutional rule under Guadalupe Victoria, its first president, and Guerrero, its second.

Mexico's progress to nationhood, however, was to be slow and difficult. Conflicts between conservatives and liberals weakened and divided the country. The conservatives supported a strong national government and sought to maintain their traditional privileges the liberals advocated decentralized rule, sharply diminished church influence, and broad social reforms.

The Era of Santa Anna

In l833 the presidency passed to Santa Anna, who dominated the country's life for more than twenty years. It was a time of political turmoil, with numerous governments succeeding one another. Foreign wars also sapped the country's strength. A dispute with France over Mexican debts brought French troops to Veracruz in 1838. The French were repulsed, but in a war with the United States (1846-48), Mexico lost nearly half of its territory.

War of the Reform: Juárez

The liberals exiled Santa Anna in 1855 and began to lead the country out of chaos. Among their leaders was Benito Juárez, a Zapotec Indian, who became one of Mexico's greatest statesmen. Juárez played a leading role in framing the Constitution of 1857, which limited the power of the army and the church, recognized civil marriage, and called for freedom of religion, press, and assembly.

Conservatives violently opposed the constitution, and Mexico was plunged into a three-year civil war known as the War of the Reform (1857-61). With a liberal victory in 1861, Juárez became provisional president. But the conflict had bankrupted the country. When Juárez suspended payment on debts owed to France, Spain, and Britain, troops of the three countries occupied Veracruz.

French Aims: Maximillian

The British and Spanish soon departed, but France's emperor Napoleon III, urged on by the conservatives, seized the opportunity to establish a monarchy in Mexico. French troops invaded the country in 1862 and captured Mexico City the following year. Juárez'government, forced to flee the capital, began a campaign of guerrilla warfare. Meanwhile, Napoleon III and the conservatives had chosen as emperor of Mexico the archduke Maximilian of Austria, who arrived in 1864 with his wife, the empress Carlota, to assume the throne.

Maximilian was a well-meaning but weak ruler who tried to govern benevolently. His moderate policies and acceptance of the reforms that had deprived the church of much of its land cost him the support of the church hierarchy and conservative political leaders, however. When Napoleon III, under pressure from the United States, withdrew the support of French troops in 1866, Maximilian was left isolated in the nation he supposedly ruled. In 1867 he was captured by republican forces and executed.

The Republic Restored

Once again free to govern as president, Juárez laid the foundation for Mexico's industry as well as its transportation and communications system. Most important, he introduced a program of free public education that reached out to the great mass of Indians and mestizos who could neither read nor write. When he died in office in 1872, Mexico had become a nation.

The Long Rule of Porfirio Díaz

Porfirio Díaz, one of Juárez' generals, seized power in 1876 and served several terms as president. Known as Don Porfirio, he ruled Mexico with an iron hand for nearly 35 years. He brought stability to the country, built railroads, improved harbors, and increased agricultural output. He established the country's oil industry, promoted good relations with other countries, and encouraged foreign investment in Mexico.

At the same time, under Díaz, the church, the aristocracy, and the army regained their old privileges. The Indians found themselves with less land than ever, city and rural workers were impoverished, and political opposition was suppressed.

The Revolution of 1910

Díaz' dictatorial rule brought about a revolution in 1910. Pancho Villa, a former bandit and guerrilla fighter, led the uprising in the north. In the south, Emiliano Zapata, a tough peasant leader, took up the cause of the landless Indians. Díaz was forced to resign, and Francisco I. Madero, the liberal son of a wealthy landowner and a champion of political reform, was elected president in 1911.

In the years that followed, Mexico was torn by almost continuous violence in the struggle among rival revolutionary leaders. Victoriano Huerta, a general supported by the conservatives, had Madero assassinated in 1913 and seized power. Villa and Zapata rebelled against Huerta, as did Venustiano Carranza, the governor of Coahuila state. Huerta was deposed and Carranza became president in 1914.

By 1915, however, Carranza was at war with both Villa and Zapata, particularly over the slow pace of land reform. U.S. president Woodrow Wilson twice intervened on behalf of Carranza, and in 1915 he dispatched a cavalry force against Villa, who had raided a U.S. border town. In 1916 the victorious Carranza called for a convention to draft a new constitution.

The Constitution of 1917

The 1917 Constitution revived Juárez' ideal of free public education and government control of church property and wealth. It regulated hours and wages for workers and upheld their right to unionize and strike. It also affirmed the government's right to reclaim ownership of all land, as well as the resources beneath the surface, in the name of the nation. Although socially progressive, many provisions of the new constitution were not carried out because of a lack of funds and political will.

The Post-Constiutional Era

Carranza was himself deposed in 1920 (and later killed), when he tried to prevent Alvaro Obregón from becoming president. Obregón was a cautious man who achieved some results in land distribution, education, and labor reform. His successor, in 1924, was Plutarco Elías Calles, who expanded the distribution of land. He also enforced the constitutional provisions against the church, which led to the bloody but unsuccessful Cristero revolt (1926-28) by militant Catholics.

Under Calles' successors, however, the pace of reform slowed down. He was succeeded in the presidency by Emilio Portes Gil, Pascual Ortiz Rubio, and Abelardo Rodríguez. The three held office between 1928 and 1934.

A New Political Party

Although he retired as president in 1928, Calles remained for some six years thereafter the most powerful figure in Mexican political life. In 1929, in order to stabilize the country's fragmented political system, he created a new party, the National Revolutionary Party, to include the various revolutionary factions. It was the predecessor of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which remains the dominant political party today.

Lázaro Cárdenas, elected president in 1934, restored the revolutionary fervor of an earlier time. He recast the party, making it national in scope and bringing it under presidential control, and he undertook a number of bold economic and social changes. He nationalized the oil industry (much of which was foreign-owned) and the railroads, distributed more land to the poor than any previous president, and greatly increased the number of schools.

A New Direction

The presidents after Cárdenas stressed Mexico's industrial development, placing less emphasis on social and economic reforms. This policy began during the administration of Manuel Ávila Camacho (1940-46), who also made peace with the church and took Mexico into World War II on the side of the Allies. It continued under his successors--Miguel Alemán Valdés (1946-52), Adolfo Ruiz Cortines (1952-58), and Adolfo López Mateos (1958-64).

While Mexico did achieve rapid industrialization, it was accompanied by the great migration of people to the cities, high unemployment, and inflation. Criticism of the government intensified during the presidencies of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz (1964-70) and Luis Echeverría Álvarez (1970-76). It was under Echeverría that a national family-planning program was launched to combat the enormous population growth.

The Prosperity to Crisis

The discovery of new oil resources ushered in a period of prosperity during the presidency of José López Portillo (1976-82). But his free-spending policies and falling prices for oil led to an economic crisis in 1982. His successor, Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado (1982-88), sought to curb wasteful programs and bring the country's enormous foreign debt under control. He also linked Mexico economically to the international community through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

Efforts to improve the economy continued under Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-94), who returned the nationalized banking system to private ownership and sold off state-owned steel mills, copper mines, and airlines. Even more important was his negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Canada. But the Salinas years also saw an increase in drug trafficking, official corruption (particularly within the country's police forces), and a revolt in poverty-stricken Chiapas state by the Zapatista National Liberation Army, a peasant guerrilla group.

Recent Events

The 1994 presidential election was marred by the assassination of the PRI candidate, Luis Donaldo Colosio. Soon after winning election, his successor, Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, faced an even more severe economic crisis. To prevent a default on Mexican government bonds, the United States loaned Mexico $12.5 billion in 1995. Additional funds were provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

To restore the reputation of the PRI, which had come under increasing attack because of its single-party rule and entrenched corruption, Zedillo introduced political reforms intended to make Mexico a true multiparty democracy. He promised fair and honest elections, consultations with the opposition on key issues, a strengthened judiciary, and political democratization. He also negotiated with the Zapatista rebels, although violence in Chiapas continued. Zedillo's reforms contributed in 1997 to the PRI's loss of control of the lower house of the legislature for the first time in the party's history.

In early 1998, opposition candidates won six gubernatorial races, but by the end of the year, the PRI appeared to be regaining strength. Nevertheless, in 2000 an opposition candidate, Vicente Fox Quesada of the National Action Party, was elected president, ending 71 years of PRI presidential rule.