Zapata's Revenge: Free Trade and the Farm Crisis in Mexico

By Tom Barry | Go to book overview
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REFORM, REVOLUTION,
AND COUNTERREFORM

"It never crossed your mind that revolution should be for the benefit of the masses. Instead, to keep the people—already semifree and strong—from taking justice into their own hands, you developed the creation of a novel revolutionary dictatorship."

—Open letter from Emiliano Zapata to President Carranza,
March 17, 1919

The problems of rural Mexico keep coming back to haunt Mexico's policymakers. Each time the government and business believe they are on the right road to economic modernization, yet another crisis in the countryside emerges. Sometimes it is a matter of declining production and increasing imports, while at other times the crisis has more to do with rising social tensions in rural areas. The armed rebellion in Chiapas of the neo-zapatistas in early 1994, which challenged the neoliberal restructuring plans of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) government, added the most recent dimension to Mexico's ever-expanding rural crisis.

Beginning with the Mexican Revolution of 1910 the government has shaped two different sets of farm policies to deal with the dual character of its rural problems. One has addressed production and economic issues; the other has addressed people and politics. Agricultural policies have aimed to boost production, while agrarian policies have

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