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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Planting Trouble: The Barzón Debtors’ Movement in Mexico


This issue brief provides an introduction to the Barzón movement, including an overview of the factors that prompted its formation and an examination of how the movement went about organizing discontented farmers, businessmen, and urban consumers. It argues that the economic crisis following the 1994 currency crash disrupted economic activity such that people in very different situations came to have common complaints. It further contends that the Barzón movement in particular was able to recruit tens of thousands of members and capture public sympathy because of innovative organizing strategies and a rhetoric that invoked broadly accepted concepts of national salvation, personal pride, and social justice.

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