Democracy requires several elements to succeed and grow. The leaders of a democracy must respect the boundaries they are given. Freedom of the press is an essential element of modern democracy.
People must be willing to participate and support the system of government. Classes may exist in a democracy, but should not be perceived as a detriment to participation in a democracy. Cultural and ethnic cohesion will support a ‘group think’ toward policy and ideals.
Mexico during its history lacked several of the elements for a successful democracy.Mexican independence was initially a continuation of Spanish colonialism. The government was not able to see a way forward without continuing policy. Every new nation has a bumpy time converting from monarchy to democracy, but Mexico faced a difficult cultural change. The Catholic Church had a strict hierarchy that also permeated the culture of Mexico and the indigenous people did not have a fair voice in the new government. The wars with France, the US and Texas did not help stabilize a new democracy and led to dissatisfaction and a non-cohesive government.Democracy could not grow in this environment and led to further dissatisfaction with the ‘democracy’ in Mexico.
This allowed for a long period of dictatorship under Porfirio Diaz. Mexico was an agrarian society at the time and the lack of education led itself to a dictatorship. Although Diaz brought science and industry to Mexico, he did not allow democracy to flourish under this success. Diaz was more concerned with keeping centralized power of the country and did not allow mass participation in government. Any dissent was silenced. The press was not free and was used by the government to strengthen the Diaz government.Without freedom of the press and centralized power Mexico could not gain true democracy.
A free press allows citizens the ability to criticize and form opinions of their government. Mexico did not have this ability under Diaz. The growth of the Haciendados continued to keep democracy at bay. With an uneducated and rural population, it is difficult to bring the ideals of democracy to the masses. One of the elements of a successful democracy is a literate voting block. Class seperation, education and the disenfranchisement of citizens continued to keep democracy at bay.Following the revolution of 1910, the leaders of the revolution were unable to gather a productive government.
The ideals of revolution were difficult to govern; therefore the government reverted to learned behavior of the previous dictatorship. The cultural divide between indigenous tribes, Crillios and Spaniards was a further detriment to equality under the law in Mexico. The industrial revolution had already started tapping Mexican resources for production in the US and other countries. Corruption was continued and allowed to flourish to keep rebellious elements of the country under control.A democracy cannot move forward with a government that allows corruption. Fuentes speaks of the problems with a strong sense of national cohesion or “mexicaness. ” A democracy requires a sense of strength as a people.
One of the most famous lines from American democracy is “a government of the people, by the people, for the people. ” Mexico does not have a government that they see in these terms. The continued struggle to gain land rights and justice in the Mexican system does not allow the citizenry to feel a part of their own country and government.The late 20th Century allowed for further economic growth, but governmental policy did not allow for the social structure to continue a growing democracy. Corruption has continued to plague Mexican politics leading citizens to distrust elections. The resent elections in Mexico have been as widely criticized as the elections of the early part of the century. Mexico continues to have a strict class system, uneducated indigenous people and cultural separation.
Democracy will continue to struggle to grow in a rocky environment until Mexico builds the social structure to support an educated society with further cohesion as a people.