Pipes on Survival

Nils H. Wessell
1985 Worldview  
385 pp.; $18.95) Mexico is coming apart at the seams. This is the clear message of this important, insightful, and uneven book by a former New York Times correspondent in Mexico. After forty years of steady but poorly distributed economic growth, the Mexican economy has come unstuck. Local industry is highly protected, grossly inefficient, and incapable of generating new jobs. Much of the rural population is trapped in rain-fed subsistence agriculture on poor soil in a land-tenure system that
more » ... ovides neither viable plots nor living farm wages. A massive external debt absorbs much of the oil revenue left over from the predations of a corrupt state monopoly and equally predatory oil workers union. Economic decline and stagnation are calling into question a hierarchical, centralized political system of powerful special interests and their brokers. The restive urban middle classes, shocked by inflation and successive devaluations, are withdrawing their loyalty from the political system and increasingly, in northern Mexico, voting for candidates of the conservative opposition PAN party. Politicians are torn between opening up the system to allow for more democracy and relying on increased coercion to ensure control.
doi:10.1017/s0084255900046350 fatcat:urqctih63zenfawyt3vmrklirm