The Governors of Mexico

The Governors of Mexico

The Governors of Mexico

The Governors of Mexico

Excerpt

Because states' rights are weaker in Mexico than in the United States, the consensus of scholars in both countries has long relegated governors of Mexican states to the status of presidential stooges. In 1949 historian Frank Tannenbaum could still safely summarize such thinking thus: "The Government of Mexico is the President ... the President must make sure that . . . all of the governors are his friends, that the government is staffed by trusted political allies." 1

However, the upsurge of industrialization, making Mexico more urban and Mexican society more complex, increases the need for delegation of executive authority. The 1960's are not the 1930's, or even the 1940's. As historian Howard F. Cline has pointed out, from 1940 to 1960 Mexico successfully retreated from colonialism ( the extractive industries), shifting its economic dependence from mining to manufacturing. 2

The proposition that the national government reigns supreme in Mexico still holds true. But as L. Vincent Padgett has observed: "achievement of supremacy has made it possible for the national government, particularly the President, to delegate increasing authority to the governors of the states in order that local problems may be solved in accord with local aspirations and needs." 3

One way to estimate the true role of the Governor of a Mexican state is to examine the biographies of the men holding the office, in the light of their stewardship of the position. The constitutional requirements tell us only that governors are always native Mexicans, not below certain ages, and residents of the states they administer. But their biographies indicate trends in the general qualifications of chief executives of the states: from military men in the 1920's and 1930's to civilians in the 1950's and 1960's, from old-fashioned autocrats to expediters within the framework of the public-administration norms demanded by the complexities of modern life.

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