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Essay: Greatest challenges that Mexico faced in the 1960s

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  • Published: 15 November 2019*
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  • Words: 1,208 (approx)
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It was 1960 and Mexico had a population of 38,174,112 people. That is approximately a  ten million human increase in the country in just one decade. A “third world country” such as Mexico would not be prepared for a ten million person increase. (World War II “baby boomers”, could be one of the major causes of the ten million person increase.) With a skyrocketing population, it is crucial to make adjustments in the expansion of infrastructure and agriculture in order to ensure the safe flow of people as well as sustaining the population through the expansion of agriculture.

As seen in the nineteen-sixties World Bank documents, an area of Mexico that needed further development were issues such as multiple irrigation systems and agriculture projects, as well as road/highway expansions, toll transportation, and power sector projects. At this moment in history, Mexico was faced with two major issues: an exponential population growth, and the funds necessary for expansion to sustain the growing population.

Naturally, with an enormous increase in population in such a short period of time it was necessary to ensure that Mexico’s food supply was going to be able to sustain the people. Through expanding irrigation systems, Mexico was able to cultivate vaster areas of land that were dedicated to agriculture. Not only was agriculture a point of focus in the irrigation projects, but flood prevention as well as the reconstruction of dams and canal systems. (Flood prevention and the improvement of canal systems can also be seen as a form of disaster prevention for the state.) In terms of roadways and highways, expansion was needed in order to carry a greater volume of automobiles that would prevent potential traffic jams and automobile accidents. Not only was it important to have roadways and highways equipped to carry such great loads of people and goods, but it was also crucial to have roads and highways capable of connecting rural areas to central areas of the country. This connection allowed resources such as agricultural goods to be carried to those that were residing in more rural villages. Improving the road and highway quality is arguably one of the greatest starting points for ‘modernization’ in Mexico, connecting isolated regions of Mexico to bustling cities such as Mexico City or Monterrey.

Through the help of the World Bank, many of the necessary expansions were put into action and were able to be implemented in Mexico. However, this is not necessarily the route Mexico was interested in taking in the 1960s, they did not wish to be fully reliant on external sources to fund their projects. Their desire to become economically independent meant they had to work towards opening new doors into domestic economic growth and industrialization. By opening these new doors, it would ultimately benefit their growing population by providing many industrial jobs focused on the expansion of roadways, agriculture, and extending electrical power into rural areas. This moves into the activity of the Non-Aligned Movement that was established in 1961 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. A major goal of this movement for some Latin American nations, such as Mexico, was to finally steer away from their perpetual status as a ‘Third World’ and move towards ‘modernization’. The idea of ‘modernization’ was a common goal for Latin American countries and became exceedingly popular during the Cold War era in the 1960s.

The majority of the 1960s were spent trying to balance the economy after the peso lost so much value in the mid-1950s. This period of reconstruction was known as the era of Stabilizing Development. Resolving Mexico’s ‘development issue’ was not necessarily an area of conflict, but rather unanimous within the government. It is here that we begin to see a trend in society; the desire to gain national capital, maintain the stability of the peso, as well as increase Mexico’s working wages. The consensus was upheld by the vision of a better future for Mexico and a better life for the citizens. Many their aspirations to achieve stability were attained, and Mexico was on track to break out of their persistent status as a ‘Third World,’ along with that would be their progression into ‘modernization’. These events and actions would be the prelude for the “Mexican Miracle”.

It was through the “Mexican Miracle,” that we saw increasing average outputs, a balancing of the peso to US dollar ratio, as well as a rising gross domestic product. Not only that but the new found industrial jobs sector that aided in the development and expansion of Mexican irrigation systems, roadways/highways, and electrical power connectivity; wages were increasing in the workplace and employee benefits were on the rise. With the governments support there was a rise in agricultural and industrial employment, causing urban populations to grow rapidly. The urban growth was a pure reflection of the shift in employment for Mexican citizens. In this period of the ‘Mexican Miracle’, there was a sense of dependability and ease in the policy-making of the Mexican economy. Mexico was in a point of self-sufficiency in the providing food crops to sustain the population, steel, and the vast majority of consumer goods. This revolutionary development method would all Mexico to be successful and coast into the 1970s with a sense of security.

During the era of Stabilizing Development, the distribution of income did begin worsened regardless of the boom of industrial employment. Despite the fluctuation of income distribution, poorer populations were not in a position of great disadvantage; in fact, the unequal income distribution was benefitting the poorer populations thanks to the great economic growth. It is important to note that the issue of wealth distribution is still present in Mexico today, making the nation-state one of the most unequal countries in the world. The distribution of wealth ranges from extreme poverty to great wealth… we are able to see the polar ends of the spectrum in places such as Mexico City where the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich are cohabitating. The top 1% of the wealthiest people in Mexico today earns approximately 21% of the entire nation’s income. An escape from this unequal distribution of wealth was emigration to the United States of America. In the early 1960s, over half a million Mexican citizens had emigrated to the United States. It was the U.S. where many Mexican citizens went to work in hopes of a better life that would offer greater incomes. Many immigrant workers would relay their earnings to their families living in poverty, to help support their livelihoods.

I believe the two greatest challenges that Mexico faced in the 1960s was a) the dramatic population growth that took place in a single decade as well as b) the funding that would be necessary to sustain the growing population. Overall, these two points of interest were addressed and ultimately managed, allowing the United Mexican States to progress and grow out of its stereotypical position in the global community as a “Third World.” Development is not a broad method of change, but rather goal oriented to attain optimal results. In the 1960s in Mexico Development was truly displayed; there were specific issues that required an effective resolution and through this, progress and improvements were made to better the countries productivity.

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