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UnFriendly Neighbors U'S'Mexican Relations in Historical Perspective: Understanding the Differences


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Title: UnFriendly Neighbors U'S'Mexican Relations in Historical Perspective: Understanding the Differences

(Un)Friendly Neighbors? U.S.-Mexican Relations
in Historical Perspective Understanding the
Differences of Proximity
  • John F. Chuchiak IV
  • Missouri State University

U.S.-Mexican Relations
  • Poor Mexico.so far from God and so close to the
    United States.
  • --Porfirio Diaz (1910)

  • When greeting President Jimmy Carter on the White
    House lawn in 1977, Mexican President José López
    Portillo remarked
  • To be neighbors means to share everything, the
    good things and the bad things, too. We are
    absolutely convinced that it would not be correct
    to enhance the bad things that life brings on its
    own. On the other hand, friendship makes it
    possible for us to make progress by deepening and
    enhancing all good things. Therefore, it is
    advisable for good neighbors to be good

  • We share so much in common with our neighbors to
    the South.
  • Many Americans have roots in Mexico.
  • Our economies are interdependent Mexico is our
    second largest trading partner with bilateral
    trade flows exceeding 250 billion annually.

  • Our borders are a beehive of activities with more
    800,000 individuals and 250,000 vehicles crossing
    the U.S./Mexico border daily.
  • More important even than our economic ties are
    our shared values which allow us to remain close
    partners even when issues arise between us that
    are difficult to resolve.

  • The issues challenging that relationship are well
    known to us all.
  • Migration, border security, drugs, trade,
    investment, energy and economic development.
  • The success or failure of U.S.-Mexican relations
    will have a direct bearing on the prosperity of
    both the United States and Mexico, especially in
    border communities whose lives, security and
    economic well being are inextricably linked.

  • U.S. relations with Mexico are as important and
    complex as with any country in the world.
  • A stable, democratic, and economically prosperous
    Mexico is fundamental to U.S. interests.
  • U.S. relations with Mexico have a direct impact
    on the lives and livelihoods of millions of
    Americans--whether the issue is trade and
    economic reform, drug control, migration, or the
    promotion of democracy.

  • The scope of U.S.-Mexican relations goes far
    beyond diplomatic and official contacts it
    entails extensive commercial, cultural, and
    educational ties, as demonstrated by the annual
    figure of nearly a million legal border crossings
    a day.
  • In addition, more than a half-million American
    citizens live in Mexico.
  • More than 2,600 U.S. companies have operations
    there, and the U.S. accounts for 60 of all
    foreign direct investment in Mexico.

  • However, relations between the countries often
    have been characterized by conflict.
  • Analysts attribute much of the antagonism to the
    great disparities in wealth between the two
    countries a history of intervention by the
    United States that makes Mexico highly critical
    and suspicious of United States positions
    cultural differences and stereotypes of both
    nations and the high levels of interdependence
    on many socioeconomic and political issues, both
    at the national level and in border areas.

U.S.Mexican Relations in Historical Perspective
  • Over the course of nearly two hundred years
    Mexico and the United States have been distant
    neighbors, as Alan Riding put it in the title of
    his book on Mexico.
  • The U.S. military has invaded Mexico three times
    during this period and, as one result of the
    first occasion, left with over half the territory
    then claimed by Mexico in its pocket.

  • The United States also invaded Mexico during the
    time of the Mexican Revolution, occupying the
    ports of Tampico and Veracruz.

  • During the same period, Mexico remains the only
    nation to have successfully attacked/invaded the
    United States.
  • Pancho Villa, reacting against U.S. attacks on
    Mexico, crossed the border and attacked the U.S.
    Town of Columbus New Mexico.

  • A third U.S. Invasion of Mexico occurred shortly
    afterwards when General John Pershing was ordered
    to lead and expeditionary force into Mexico in
    pursuit of Pancho Villa.

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  • The relationship between Mexico and the United
    States has never been an easy one.
  • Mexicans often approach the relationship based on
    resentment of their rich and powerful neighbor.
  • While U.S. attitudes and policy often seem formed
    under what the Mexican writer Octavio Paz has
    called "the twin sisters of ignorance and

  • Adding to the difficulties between the two
    neighbors is the enormous disparity in wealth
    between the two countries, together with
    differences in cultural and historical

  • When I first visited Nuevo Laredo as a child, I
    was immediately struck by a readily observable
    fact There was much more poverty on the Mexican
    side of the river than there was on the American
    side. Why? How could a river cause such a large
    disparity in income and wealth?
  • Jacob Hornberger, Leader of
  • an Current Border Interest NGO

Rich or Poor? Mexican Oil
  • In terms of U.S. Interests, Mexicos oil reserves
    are of vital interest to U.S.-Mexican relations.
  • In 2000 Mexico was the worlds fifth-largest oil
    producer, its 10th- largest oil exporter, and the
    fourth-largest supplier of oil to the United
  • Mexicos state-owned oil company, Pemex, holds a
    constitutionally established monopoly for the
    exploration, production, transportation, and
    marketing of the nations oil.

  • Mexican ex-President Vicente Fox, in his concern
    for protecting the rights of the 3.5 million
    Mexicans who live and work in the United States,
    some with visas, others undocumented, sought to
    protect Mexico's third largest source of foreign
    exchange other than oil and tourism.
  • Mexicans living in the United States send home
    annually an estimated 7 billion in
    family-support payments.
  • In a country that does not offer unemployment
    insurance such payments are crucial to the lives
    of hundreds of thousands of Mexicans back home.

  • In general each side sees what it wants to see in
    the other Americans suppose that Mexico 's
    political culture is the mirror image of their
    own, differing only by language and details of
  • Mexicans suppose that the United States behind
    the appearance of openness, is really a closed

Problems of Immigration
Mexico U.S.
  • The march of Mexicans to the United States
    shouldn't be understood as a wave of anger or
    revolutionary passion, but more as a peaceful
  • National Catholic Register, Nov. 16, 1986 citing
    comment of Father Florencio M. Rigoni, assistant
    secretary for migration for the Mexican bishops'
    conference, in La Jornada, Mexico City

Mexico the U.S.
  • "...America is a dying nation. I tell the
    Mexicans when I am down in Mexico to keep on
    having children, and then to take back what we
    took from them California, Texas, Arizona, and
    then to take the rest of the country as well."
  • (The Wanderer, St. Paul MN May 6, 1987 Citing
    Father Paul Marx, in homily for the International
    Mother's Day Walk for Life in Niagara Falls, at
    St. John the Baptist parish in the suburb of

Mexico U.S.
  • A family from Mexico who arrived here this
    morning, legally, has as much right to the
    American dream as the direct descendants of the
    founding fathers. ... when the blood of the sons
    of immigrants and the grandsons of slaves fell on
    foreign fields, it was American blood. In it you
    could not read the ethnic particulars of the
    soldier who died next to you. He was an American.
    And when I think of how we learned this lesson, I
    wonder how we could have unlearned it."
  • (from Republican National Convention acceptance
    speech, The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 16,

Mexico U.S.
  • "Mexican immigration poses challenges to the U.S.
    in a way nothing else has in the past. ... And
    the longer this immigration continues, the more
    difficult politically it is to stop. ... The
    invasion of over 1 million Mexican civilians is a
    comparable to an armed invasion threat to
    American societal security, and Americans should
    react against it with comparable vigor."
  • --Samuel Huntington, (Harvard professor of
    government, author and member of American
    Enterprise Inst. Council of Advisers) ("The
    Special Case of Mexican Immigration," The
    American Enterprise, December 2000)

Mexico U.S.
  • "Without Mexican farm workers, legal or not, the
    rest of us wouldn't eat.
  • (Statement of Alex Pulaski, Northwest
    Treeplanters and Farmworkers United (NFTW) union

Immigration U.S.
  • "My opinion, with respect to immigration, is that
    except of useful mechanics and some particular
    descriptions of men or professions, there is no
    need of encouragement, while the policy or
    advantage of its taking place in a body...may be
    much questioned for, by so doing, they retain
    the Language, habits, and principles (good or
    bad) which they bring with them."
  • --George Washington,
  • (first President, founding father)
  • (Letter to John Adams, Nov. 15, 1794)

Why come to the U.S.
U.S. Images of Mexico
U.S. Image of Mexico
  • It looks like you can't swing a dead cat without
    hitting a corrupt Mexican...Corruption in Mexico
    is a part of their lifestyle.
  • Congressional aid - according to M. Delal Baer,
    L.A. Times, March 9, 1997

  • ... I've been talking to Vicente Fox, the new
    president of Mexico... I know him... And we are
    negotiating with him to have more gas and oil
    sent to the U.S.... so we'll not depend on
    foreign oil...
  • President George W. Bush (2001)

Slowpoke Rodriguez
Political/Electoral Corruption
Revolutions Political Violence
Laziness/Government Inefficiency
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  • Hispanic Origins2000
  • (Over 35,300,000 people)
  • (Over 21,000,000 of Mexican Origin)
  • Source Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau

Includes Ancestry of U.S. born
HispanicsSource Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau
Mexican Images of U.S.
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U.S.-Mexican Relations in Historical Perspective
  • The roots of the difficulties between the United
    States and Mexico can be seen in the 19th century.

Mexico in 1800
  • In 1800 Colonial Mexico (New Spain) was a vast
    territory characterized by a stable and
    responsive government, a wealthy and balanced
    economy, and a multi-racial society which enjoyed
    considerable social mobility.

  • Yet, by the middle of the nineteenth century, the
    republic of Mexico not only had lost more than
    half its territory, but it also suffered from
    extreme political instability, severe economic
    depression, and both racial as well as class

Comparison Between the Mexican and United States
Economies in 1800
  • Per capita income in 1800
  • Mexico was 116, and U.S. was 105.
  • Mexico had a larger industrial base.

U.S. Mexico 1800
  • Other aspects of life in the neighboring regions
    provide an interesting contrast.
  • In 1800 the United States had a population of
    six million people while Mexico's inhabitants
    numbered about four million.
  • The U.S. was overwhelmingly rural while Mexico,
    although rural, had several of the largest cities
    in the continent.

  • The principal urban centers of the United
    States--New York with 60,000 people, Philadelphia
    with 41,000, and Boston with 25,000--did not
    compare with the leading cities in New Spain
  • Mexico had some of the largest cities on the
  • Mexico City with 450,000 inhabitants, Guanajuato
    with 60,000, Querétaro with 50,000 Puebla with
    40,000, and Zacatecas with 30,000.

  • Colonial Mexico also differed from the U.S. in
    its racial composition and in the higher degree
    of mobility enjoyed by its people.

  • Europeans constituted the majority of the United
    States' population with blacks and Indians
    forming significant minorities.
  • Whites, however, dominated the political and
    economic structure of the country, limiting
    social mobility to members of their race.

  • In contrast, the Mexican census of 1793 indicated
    that there were approximately 8,000 Europeans,
    that is, persons born in the Old World,
  • Also there were about 700,000 criollos--a group
    considered white but which, in fact, included a
    majority of people of mixed ancestry who claimed
    white status by virtue of education and wealth

  • Some 420,000 mestizos--individuals of mixed
    Indian and Spanish origin, but also including
    acculturated Indians who passed for mestizos.

  • 360,000 mulatos,
  • 6,000 blacks,
  • And 2,300,000 Indians.

  • The Indian enumeration includes more than a
    million who were acculturated and who could, in
    essence, be considered mestizos.
  • Perhaps 100,000 Asians immigrated to Mexico
    during the colonial period.
  • By 1800 they, like the countless Africans brought
    to the colony, had entered the racially mixed
  • Thus Mexico, unlike its northern counterpart, had
    a multi-racial society integrated through

  • Economic, rather than racial, factors constituted
    the main determinants of social status.
  • While colonial Mexicans regarded being white as a
    positive characteristic, the records of New Spain
    provide numerous examples of upwardly mobile
    people of color who attained elite status by
    making money.
  • In New Spain, it was better to be rich than
    white rich mestizos and mulatos often hired poor
    white immigrants from Spain as servants.

  • Early nineteenth century Mexico can be described
    as a wealthy, capitalist society.

Independence Movements in U.S. Mexico
  • The independence movements of each country also
  • The United States was a product of an "early
  • Mexico was the result of a "late independence."

  • English colonists rebelled against British
    authority when it tried to impose a system of
    imperial control as a result of the Seven Years'
  • This marked the end of the politics of "benign
    neglect" under which they had developed. Their
    rebellion was a movement to maintain their

  • Really the war of independence in the United
    States was to preserve that modernity which had
    motivated colonization.
  • They did this at a time of favorable economic
    conditions (the rivalry between France and Great
    Britain) which allowed them to obtain funds,
    alliances, and recognition even before their
    freedom was formalized.

  • For that reason, it was a conflict that only
    lasted five years.
  • Also, the autonomy they had enjoyed and their
    political tradition had provided them a group of
    political leaders prepared to face the challenge
    of the fight for independence and the formation
    of a new state.

Mexican Independence
  • On the other hand, Mexico won its independence in
    1821, forty years after the United States.
  • The war was a complex and fragmented process.
  • It was not only a search for freedom from Spain
    but also a genuine social and political

  • Mexicans did not have favorable external
  • When the war began in 1810, Europe was immersed
    in the Napoleonic wars and when Mexicans finally
    achieved their goal eleven years later, a
    conservative movement had begun which did not
    favor recognition of new countries in the
  • Finally, among the Mexican leaders who had
    survived the bloody fight for independence, there
    were men of great talent but little practical
    experience in politics.

The New Republic (U.S.)
  • In 1789, the Constitution of the United States
    was ratified and the first president of the
    country took office.
  • These events seemed to imply that "a more perfect
    union" had been established and that a new nation
    was emerging.
  • This union was possible because a consensus
    existed on an important point the ideology of

  • American society was liberal even before the
    liberalism of political and economic doctrine was
  • Therefore, its principles were assimilated easily
    because they emphasized the interest of the
    individual as a legitimate goal, and reaffirmed
    the ideas of diversity and competition.

  • In summary, the United States in 1789 attempted a
    unique experiment to create a nation out of a
    state that at the same time relied on an
    individualistic and self-centered ideology.
  • For that reason, the diversity of interests would
    take shape as political coalitions.
  • As a result, the emergence of the United States
    was the product of a political and ideological

  • In addition, one of the most important political
    characteristics was the continuity of its
    political leadership and its institutional
  • Between 1789 and 1860, fifteen presidents and
    thirty-six legislatures were elected without any
    problems or questions about the legitimacy of
    those elections, and even though political
    parties emerged, they were far from being
    disruptive elements, serving instead to advance
    democracy and contribute to finding solutions to
    major problems.

The Mexican Republic
  • When Mexico finally achieved independence, a
    spirit of optimism had swept over Mexican
    society, but the truth was that the life of
    independence did not bring with it the best
  • Mexico inherited the extremely fragmented society
    of New Spain, both in terms of its ethnic
    composition and in its levels of education and
    distribution of wealth.
  • In addition, there were also regional
  • The economic and social conditions further
    aggravated the political debate.

Alexander von Humboldt
  • Mexico is the country of inequality. No where
    does there exist such a fearful difference in the
    distribution of fortune, civilization,
    cultivation of the soil, and population. The
    interior of the country contains four cities,
    which are not more than one or two days' journey
    distant from one another .The Mexican Indians,
    when we consider them en masse, offer a picture
    of extreme misery. Banished into the most barren
    districts, and indolent from nature, and more
    still from their political situation, the natives
    live only from, hand to mouth.
  • --Alexander von Humboldt, Traveler to Mexico

  • Immediately after independence, two primary plans
    were proposed to constitute the new state one
    would eventually be called "liberal" and the
    other would be known as "conservative.
  • Even though the members of these groups agreed on
    economic and social goals, sincerely wanting to
    make Mexico a modern and prosperous country, they
    differed substantially on the ways to achieve

The Conservatives
  • The conservatives emphasized the need to proceed
    cautiously, without altering the social
    structure, and above all preserving those
    institutions that played a fundamental role in
    binding together the fragmented society,
    especially the Catholic Church.

The Liberals
  • The liberals, on the other hand, proposed radical
    social and economic reform.
  • But, the conflict between the two positions was
    even more dramatic in the political arena.
  • The liberals advocated the establishment of a
    federal republican state, while the conservatives
    reiterated the need for a centralized state, and
    leaned heavily in support of a monarchy as a form
    of government.

  • Between 1821 and 1850 the debate took place
    almost exclusively between the members of those
  • There were no real political parties in the
    strict sense of the word but rather a combination
    of coalitions.
  • In addition, the population was not accustomed to
    political debate.

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  • Under these conditions, one can understand, to a
    certain degree, the political instability in
    Mexico during its first four decades of
  • Independent Mexico has 44 governments in the
    first 33 years of the country's existence.

  • Between 1821 and 1847, four types of government
    were tried a monarchy in 1822, a federal
    republic in 1824, and two forms of a centralized
    republic, one of which in 1836 and the other in
  • One should add to this sad picture that Mexico
    faced a hostile international environment.

  • In summary, while the United States thrived from
    the time of its colonial origins both as a modern
    state and society, for Mexico to modernize meant
    breaking its structures, destroying its old
    institutions and building new ones, as well as
    modifying the way of thinking of its inhabitants.
  • These different origins help to explain the
    position of the two countries during the later
    U.S. Mexican war from 1846 to 1848.

The U.S.-Mexican War
Mexican American War (1846-1848)  

  • ADAMS-ONIS TREATY, Treaty between Spain and the
    U.S. renouncing the latter's claim to Texas.
  • Broadside, Mexico City, February 12, 1822.

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  • When the United States and Mexico confronted each
    other between 1846 and 1848, they were two
    radically different countries in terms of social
    conditions, economics, politics and culture.
  • These contrasts were the result of their colonial
    pasts and what they experienced during their
    respective independence movements.

  • 13,000 U.S. soldiersone in every fivedied
    during the seventeen months of armed conflict,
    chiefly from infection and disease.
  • The toll of Mexican losses was far higher 55,000
    men died, and countless more were wounded and
    maimed in the savage battles.
  • III-clothed, seldom paid, often unfed, poorly
    trained, badly equipped, and not always
    well-commanded, the Mexican soldiers put up a
    valiant but hopeless fight.
  • In the end they fought for the honor of dying
    for their country.

  • FROM this war that is so seldom remembered, the
    United States emerged with its prize one-half
    million square miles of new territory containing
    riches untold.

  • It emerged also with a well-trained corps of
    officers who would put their combat skills to
    devastating use against each other in the Civil
  • Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, "Stonewall"
    Jackson, and William T. Sherman, among others,
    gained their first combat experience in Mexico.

  • Mexico and the United States were essentially
    equal in the 1840s.
  • Mexico, indeed, had a much stronger military
    tradition and a larger, better equipped army.
  • At the outset many European observers believed
    that the upstart Yankees would receive the
    beating they so clearly deserved.

  • Always outnumbered, sometimes five to one, the
    U.S. forces consisted largely of volunteers led
    by officers whose only combat experience came
    from battles with the Indians.
  • Moreover, Mexico had been clamoring for war in
    its newspapers and in the oratory of its
  • By adopting a bellicose attitude and refusing to
    bargain, Mexico was as much at fault as its
    neighbor to the north.

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Battle of Monterrey
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Hanging Irish Deserters
The Battle of Chapultepec
  • Since 1833, Chapultepec had served as Mexico's
    military academy, and the cadets now fought side
    by side with seasoned soldiers in heroic defense
    of their castle and country.

  • According to Mexican national mythology, six of
    the youths died, one clutching the Mexican flag
    to keep it from American hands.
  • For their valor, they have been honored in annual
    celebrations as Los Niños Héroes.

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The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo
  • On 2 February 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe
    Hidalgo was signed, ratified in the U.S. Senate
    on 10 March 1848, by the Mexican Congress in May.
  • The treaty called for the annexation of the
    northern portions of Mexico to the United States.
  • In return, the U.S. agreed to pay 15 million to
    Mexico as compensation for the seized territory.
  • This "seized Mexican territory" is the most
    controversial issue in the history of relations
    between Mexico and the United States.

The Manifestation of Destiny
  • Under the terms of the treaty, which went into
    effect on May 30, 1848, the United States paid
    some fifteen million dollars for more than half
    of Mexico's territory, including West Texas, New
    Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California.
  • On June 12, as the Mexican flag was raised once
    more over the National Palace, the last American
    troops marched out of Mexico City on their long
    journey to a homeland that now stretched from sea
    to shining sea.

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  • The terms of the treaty and its signing were so
    shameful, that even the U.S. envoy (Nicolas
    Trist) felt ashamed.
  • In a letter to his wife regarding the signing of
    the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo he wrote
  • Just as they were about to sign the treaty...one
    of the Mexicans, Don Bernardo Couto, remarked
    "this must be a proud moment for you no less
    proud for you than it is humiliating for us." To
    this I replied "we are making peace, let that be
    our only thoughtBut, Could those Mexicans have
    seen into my heart at that moment, they would
    have known that my feeling of shame as an
    American was far stronger than theirs could be as
    Mexicans. For though it would not have done for
    me to say so there, that was a thing for every
    right minded American to be ashamed of, and I was
    ashamed of it, most cordially and intensely
    ashamed of it."

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Cartoon from Yankee Doodle, 1847

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(Un)Friendly Neighbors?
  • U.S.-Mexican Relations from 1848-2005

  • Throughout its history, Mexico has had an
    ambivalent love-hate relationship with its
    northern neighbor.
  • Nationalist rhetoric continuously highlights the
    loss of one-half of Mexico's territory and
    natural resources to the United States in the
  • Even at times when United States-Mexican
    relations have been at their best, this loss is
    still present in Mexican rhetoric.

  • During the Rio Group summit in September 1994,
    for example, President Salinas commented on the
    United Nations-sponsored United States
    intervention in Haiti
  • "Having suffered an external intervention by the
    United States, in which we lost more than half of
    our territory, Mexico cannot accept any proposal
    for intervention by any nation of the region.

  • In economic terms, good relations with the United
    States have long been critical for Mexico, given
    that its northern neighbor is its principal
    trading partner, both for exports and imports.
  • Economic relations and the interdependence of
    Mexico and the United States dominated
    U.S.-Mexican Relations since 1848, and they
    remain the central points of future relations.

  • 1884 United StatesMexican railroad connection
    links El Paso and Mexico City.
  • 1891 United States Immigration Act authorizes
    inspection stations at ports of entry on the
    Mexican and Canadian borders.
  • 1904 To curtail undocumented entry of Asian and
    European immigrants into the United States
    through Mexico, immigration inspectors on
    horseback begin to patrol the United
    StatesMexican border.

  • 1914 United States forces occupy the port city
    of Veracruz for seven months.
  • 1916 United States President Woodrow Wilson
    orders Gen. John Pershing to capture guerrilla
    leader Pancho Villa after Villas attack on
    Columbus, New Mexico.
  • For nine months 4,000 American troops search in
    vain for Villa.

  • 1917 The United States Immigration Act applies
    a literacy test and head tax to Mexicans entering
    the United States legally, spurring undocumented
    immigration by Mexican workers.
  • (During the World War I labor shortage, these
    provisions are temporarily suspended.)

  • 1924 The Immigration Act of 1924 establishes
    the United States Border Patrol.

  • 19291934 Nearly 500,000 Mexican nationals and
    some Mexican Americans are repatriated to Mexico,
    forcibly or voluntarily, during the Great

  • 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces
    the Good Neighbor Policy, promising to end United
    States military intervention in Latin American

  • 19371938 Mexico nationalizes British and
    United States railroad and oil industries.
  • A 1947 settlement provided compensation to
    foreign investors.

Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas announcing the
expropriation of all foreign oil interests on
March 18 1938
  • 1942 The United States and Mexico adopt the
    Emergency Farm Labor Program, or Bracero program,
    allowing Mexicans to perform contract work in the
    United States for a fixed period.
  • Over the next 22 years of the programs
    existence, more than 4.6 million labor contracts
    are issued.

  • Harry S. Truman becomes the first U.S. president
    to visit Mexico City.

  • In March 1947, as his motorcade is heading to the
    Mexico City Airport at the end to his official
    three-day state trip to Mexico, U.S. President
    Harry Truman suddenly orders his to stop at the
    Monument to the Children Heroes.
  • There, an aide removes a wreath from the trunk of
    the presidents limousine and helps him place it
    at the monuments base.
  • The Mexicans are astonished.
  • Almost exactly 100 years after their capital city
    fell to U.S. armed forces in a war they still
    recall bitterly, the leader of the victorious
    nation has spontaneously come to honor their

  • Witnesses to this act will remember officials,
    newspaper reporters and ordinary citizens
    breaking into tears at Trumans gesture.
  • Press accounts the next day will declare that the
    presidents tribute has almost single-handedly
    wiped out a century of Mexican resentment toward
    the United States.
  • Truman chose wisely. The monument to the young
    cadets, seen by millions of people each year, was
    the countrys most powerful sustainer of the
    lingering bitterness Mexicans felt toward the

  • 1981 Citizens of San Antonio, Texas, elect the
    first Mexican American mayor of a United States
  • 1986 The Immigration Reform and Control Act
    (IRCA), or Simpson-Rodino Act, increases funds
    for the United States Border Patrol, penalizes
    employers for hiring unauthorized workers, and
    provides amnesty to long-term undocumented

  • 1990 The Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs
    creates the Program for Mexican Communities
    Abroad to aid Mexicans in adapting to life in the
    United States and to foster continuing ties to
    the homeland.
  • 1994 The North American Free Trade Agreement
    (NAFTA) begins to phase out tariffs between the
    United States, Canada, and Mexico over fifteen

  • 1994 California voters adopt Proposition 187,
    denying undocumented residents access to nearly
    all public services in the state. (Courts later
    strike down much of the law as unconstitutional.)
  • 1995 Over 500,000 Mexicans work in
    maquiladoras, factories on the border that
    assemble parts from the United States and export
    the finished goods back to the United States.

Old Problems Linger
  • According to a recent poll, nearly three out of
    five Mexicans believe there should be no border
    control for Mexican nationals crossing into the
    United States.
  • At the same time, two-thirds of U.S. citizens do
    not believe illegal aliens in the country should
    be granted amnesty.

  • Asked if they believed the U.S. Southwest
    rightfully belonged to Mexico, 58 percent of
    respondents in Mexico said it did, while 28
    percent disagreed.
  • A similar number -- 57 percent -- stated
    agreement with the position that Mexicans have
    the right to enter the United States without U.S.
  • A total of 35 percent disagreed.

  • In Mexico a nationalism that began with
    resentment at the loss of half the nations
    territory in the 1840s has taken new forms.
  • And that nationalism has nourished a greater
    identification with people of Mexican origin in
    the United States, whom Mexicans had earlier
    considered traitors.

  • American politicians have insisted that Mexico
    pass an American test of its resolve in the
    officially bi-national fight against narcotics,
    have tried to block migrants at the border, and
    have sought to cut off public aid to people
    simply because they cannot document their
    national citizenship.
  • With a single narco-economy and -culture on both
    sides of the border, United States officials
    blame the problem on Mexican supply while Mexican
    officials blame it on American demand.

The U.S.-Mexican Border
  • A Mutual Problem
  • Needing Mutual Solutions

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  • Mexico's birthrate is the highest in the world,
    with the average age as low as fourteen.
  • To the south, a Third World nation.
  • To the north, the greatest industrial power on
    the planet.
  • At the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border, both worlds
    meet in a gritty, sometimes violent, always
    vibrant collision.

  • The U.S.Mexican border es una herida abierta
    (an open wound) where theThird World grates
    against the first and bleeds. And beforea scab
    forms it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of
    twoworlds merging to form a third countrya
    border culture.
  • From Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands The New

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2000),
    statistics indicate that in the U.S. border
    counties, 25-30 of the population is uninsured
    inhabitants have less private health insurance,
    40 vs. 60 for the state average and the
    average yearly income is 14,560.
  • In general, educational attainment is lower along
    the border when compared to the rest of the
    United States. 
  • With the exception of San Diego, 25 year olds in
    the border counties average two to three less
    years of school than in the United States as a

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  • Three of the ten poorest counties in the United
    States are located in the border area
  • Twenty-one of the counties on the border have
    been designated as economically distressed areas
  • Approximately 432,000 people live in 1,200
    colonias in Texas and New Mexico, which are
    unincorporated, semi-rural communities that are
    characterized by substandard housing and unsafe
    public drinking water or wastewater systems

  • The unemployment rate along the U.S. side of the
    Texas-Mexico border is 250-300 percent higher
    than in the rest of the country.
  • Due to rapid industrialization, the communities
    on the Mexican side of the border have less
    access to basic water and sanitation services
    than the rest of the nation.

  • This blending of Mexican-American cultures
    becomes more pronounced the closer you get to the
  • It manifests itself in the language, music, food,
    dress and philosophy of life.
  • Conversations are fractured, sometimes right in
    the middle
  • "What the hell, que pasa?"
  • "Not a damn cosa."
  • Newspapers carry sections in Spanish.
  • Menus, voting instructions, traffic signals,
    church missals, and grocery sales are printed in
    both languages.

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  • "I dedicate the present retablo to the Holiest
    Virgin of San Juan de los Lagos for having saved
    me from a Texan who tried to carry me off. I hid
    under a tree by the side of the road with my
    little brother."
  • Retablo of Concepción Zapata. 1948. 

  • "We give thanks to the Virgin of San Juan for
    saving us from the migration authorities on our
    way to Los Angeles.
  • Retablo of M. Esther Tapio Picón. 

Increasing Hispanic Population in the U.S.

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A New Friendly chapter in U.S. Mexican
  • 2005 and Beyond

  • Nearly a quarter-century ago, soon after his
    election, President Ronald Reagan referred to
    Mexico as one of "our two neighbors" in North
  • While those few words may seem as insignificant
    now as they seemed to many who heard them then,
    to Mexico they became a symbol of a dramatic
    change in U.S.-Mexican relations.
  • They signified the moment that the United States
    recognized Mexico as more than just part of Latin

  • Ex-Mexican President Vicente Fox asked a rare
    joint meeting of Congress in 2001 to trust its
    neighbor in matters of drug interdiction,
    immigration and trade.
  • I am aware that for many Americans, and for many
    Mexicans, the idea of trusting their neighbor may
    seem risky and perhaps unwise I am sure that
    many on both sides of the border would rather
    stick to the old saying that good fences make
    good neighbors. But circumstances have changed."

  • On May 5, 2001, President George W. Bush echoed
    Fox, pledging to improve relations with Mexico.
  • President Bush pledged to work to cement ties
    with Mexico by,                  
  • "putting old fears and quarrels behind usThe
    history of Mexican-American relations has had its
    troubled moments, but today our peoples enrich
    each other in trade and culture and family ties,"
  • Bush recorded this address in both English and
    Spanish, beginning what the White House said
    would be a new weekly practice of radio addresses
    in both languages.

  • The relationship between the United States and
    Mexico has at times been rocky, starting with the
    U.S.-Mexican War in which Mexico lost half its
    territory to its neighbor.
  • It's a relationship that must be strengthened if
    the two nations are to resolve lingering
    questions over immigration, trade and drugs as
    well as regional issues like extradition,
    agricultural subsidies and water-sharing

  • There have been some encouraging instances of
    cooperation and mutual aid.
  • Every day, Mexican law enforcement officials work
    with the U.S. Border Patrol to locate and arrest
    immigrant smugglers.
  • And just recently, in a dramatic gesture after
    Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Ex-Mexican President
    Vicente Fox dispatched about 200 soldiers of the
    Mexican army to march into the United States with
    food, water and medical supplies.
  • They also brought portable kitchens capable of
    feeding 7,000 people a day.

  • For the first time in 159 years Mexico sent
    troops into U.S. territory.
  • Besides the Mexican marines in Mississippi, a
    military convoy with nearly 200 soldiers rode
    proudly passed jubilant crowds from Laredo to San
    Antonio, Texas, where it set up camp and began
    providing dental and medical assistance and, more
    famously, nearly 35,000 hot meals to Katrina
    evacuees and volunteers.

  • The convoy has "a very high symbolic content,"
    said Javier Oliva, a political scientist at
    Mexico's National Autonomous University. "This is
    a very sensitive subject, for historic and
    political reasons."

  • "This is the first time that the United States
    has accepted a military mission from Mexico,"
    said Javier Ibarrola, a newspaper columnist who
    covers military affairs in Mexico. "This is
    something that's never happened before."

  • In Gulfport, Miss., President Bush personally
    thanked Mexican troops for "working together"
    with U.S. counterparts to help rebuild an
    elementary school devastated by Hurricane
  • In front of reporters and photographers Bush
    shook the hands of members of the Mexican navy,
    the word "MARINA" visibly emblazoned across their

  • The United States will certainly remember
    Mexicos generosity during this difficult period.
    The outpouring of contributions from our southern
    neighbor has been heartening, and the delivery of
    supplies and expertise from the Mexican
    government and military is needed, welcomed, and
    will certainly generate gratitude for years to
    come. We were thankful to receive the Mexican
    armys convoy of relief supplies, and the Mexican
    navys dispatch of vessels containing food and
    water purification equipment, along with medical
    personnel and engineers with expertise in
    repairing levees. And we welcome ideas and
    collaboration on relief management from the
    experts in Protección Civil.
  • Antonio O. Garza, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to Mexico

  • The relationship between the United States and
    Mexico isn't always easy to understand or manage.
  • It isn't always comfortable or without its
  • But it is indisputably essential, mutually
    rewarding and necessary for the preservation of
    both of our nations.
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