The Metamorphosis of Leadership in a Democratic Mexico

The Metamorphosis of Leadership in a Democratic Mexico

The Metamorphosis of Leadership in a Democratic Mexico

The Metamorphosis of Leadership in a Democratic Mexico


The Metamorphosis of Leadership in a Democratic Mexico is a broad analysis of Mexico's changing leadership over the past eight decades, stretching from its pre-democratic era (1935-1988), to its democratic transition (1988-2000) to its democratic period (2000-the present). In it, Roderic Camp, one of the most distinguished scholars of Mexican politics, seeks to answer two questions: 1) how has Mexican political leadership evolved since the 1930s and in what ways, beyond ideology, has the shift from a semi-authoritarian, one-party system to a democratic, electoral system altered the country's leadership? and 2) which aspects of Mexican leadership have been most affected by this shift in political models and when and why did the changes in leadership occur? Rather than viewing Mexico's current government as a true democracy, Camp sees it as undergoing a process of consolidation, under which the competitive electoral process has resulted in a system of governing institutions supported by the majority of citizens and significant strides toward plurality. Accordingly, he looks at the relationship between the decentralization of political power and the changing characteristics, experiences and paths to power of national leaders. The book, which represents four decades of Camp's work, is based upon a detailed study of 3000 politicians from the 1930s through the present, incorporating regional media accounts and Camp's own interviews with Mexican presidents, cabinet members, assistant secretaries, senators, governors and party presidents.


Four decades ago, as a graduate student, I became interested in Mexican political leadership. In pursuit of a dissertation project, I developed a comparative study of the role of Mexican and U.S. economists in policy making, using a policy-making model developed by Charles O. Jones. Through extensive correspondence, and later follow-up interviews in Mexico, I was introduced to an entire generation of Mexican public figures, many of whom lived through the Mexican Revolution of 1910 as children and who had made significant contributions to the postrevolutionary developments from the 1920s until the end of the twentieth century. This generation of Mexican leaders, through their generosity and interest in my scholarly questions, steered me toward a lifelong project of exploring leaders and elites. I moved across professional boundaries, educating myself about Mexico’s literary figures, artists, and others in the fascinating world of intellectual life; Catholic bishops and priests operating within the peculiar confines of Mexico’s church and state history; capitalists and their tenuous relationship to the government; and the secretive officer corps, which succumbed to civilian supremacy while retaining protected spheres of autonomy long before its Latin American peers—all of whom were significantly linked, formally and informally, to political leaders.

Studying individual leaders is an indirect way of examining their institutions, regardless of whether they are businesses, churches, journals, interest groups, or armies. It is also a way of understanding how each of these many institutions relate to the Mexican state and the nature of the interactions that occur among them. After exploring these numerous leadership groups individually and then collectively, I decided to return a final time to politicians themselves, who initiated this focus, to fully understand how political leadership has evolved for most of the past century and where it

1. Roderic Ai Camp, The Role of Economists in Policy-Making: A Comparative Case Study of Mexico and the United States (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1977).

2. Most of these letters have been donated to the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas, Austin, Texas.

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