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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The mission of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego, is to support multidisciplinary research on Mexico, U.S.-Mexican relations, and Mexican-origin populations in North America. The Center also sponsors comparative studies with substantial Mexico components. Beyond serving the University of California, the Center pursues close collaboration with Mexican institutions. As the premier institution of its kind, the Center seeks broad dissemination of its findings in order to inform public and scholarly debates in both Mexico and the United States.

The Director of the Center is Alberto Díaz-Cayeros, who received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University and is an associate professor at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UCSD.

Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies

There are 78 publications in this collection, published between 1981 and 2011.
Current Issue Briefs (3)

Migración Oaxaqueña a los Campos Agrícolas de California: Un Diálogo

Esta publicación recoge los temas más importantes de la reunión en el mes de febrero de 1990 de más de cincuenta académicos, defensores de los trabajadores del campo, organizadores de sindicatos, y líderes de asociaciones populares de migrantes mixtecos. Ellos participaron en una reunión de trabajo para discutir la situación de los trabajadores agrícolas mixtecos en California, y conocer los esfuerzos que los líderes mixtecos están haciendo para mejorar sus condiciones de vida y trabajo. La reunión fue organizada por Carol Zabin, directora de un equipo de investigación que examina la incorporación de los mixtecos al mercado de trabajo agrícola de California. Su objetivo era intercambiar conocimiento y perspectivas entre académicos y líderes populares sobre aspectos de interés común y posibles vías de colaboración conjunta.

The Uncertain Connection: Free Trade and Mexico-U.S. Migration

Will the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) decrease Mexican migration?

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.

Discussion Papers (4)

Economic Restructuring and Rural Subsistence in Mexico: Corn and the Crisis of the 1980s

This book, and the seminar on which it is based, were conceived as elements of a dialogue on the future of the Mexican countryside. Rural Mexico, like the rest of Mexican society, is changing rapidly in response to a variety of circumstances, many of which are very imperfectly understood. This book focuses on a central element in the livelihood of most rural people - the production and consumption of maiz - and on a key component of macroeconomic policy reform, that which has been concerned with reducing the cost and increasing the efficiency of the maize provisioning system of the country. The concerted effort to restructure the entire maize pricing and marketing system, which has gone forward in conjunction with a broad ranging agricultural policy reform, affects the economic options, as well as the levels of living, of many different kinds of people in the Mexican countryside, and it does so in complex ways.

Viva Zapata!: Generation, Gender, and Historical Consciousness in the Reception of Ejido Reform in Oaxaca

The Zapatistas, in 1994, forced the world and certainly people within Mexico to pay attention to longstanding problems in land inequities and dissatisfaction with the December 1991 modifications to the agrarian reform codes embodied in Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution. To facilitate the proposed changes in landholdings in Mexico’s approximately 29,000 ejidos and indigenous communities, a new government office was created, the Procuraduría Agraria. This paper begins by first discussing the creation and functioning of the Procuraduría Agraria, the steps communities go through in the certification process, and the agrarian history of the three field sites chosen. It then focuses on how generational and gender differences have affected the reception of the certification program in the three field sites and ends by suggesting some possible long-term outcomes of the certification process and their meaning for men and women in the communities studied.

El campo queretano en transición

Contributors to this volume examine how rural restructuring in Querétaro affects the organization of agroindustries and the productive strategies of small farmers in the ejido and private sectors, reshapes labor markets, and changes state-campesino relations. Contributors: Manuel Carlos, Alberto García Espejel, Juan José Gutiérrez Alvarez, Martha Otilia Olvera Estrada, Sergio Quesada Aldana, Gaspar Real Cabello, and Alfonso Serna Jiménez .

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Economic Alternatives (2)

NAFTA, Trade, and Development

In this chapter, we analyze the expectations and the realities about the economic impact of NAFTA on Mexico in terms of economic convergence, trade, investment, employment, wages, and income distribution. We show that NAFTA has basically failed to fulfill the promise of closing the Mexico-U.S. development gap, and we argue that this was due in part to the lack of deeper forms of regional integration or cooperation between Mexico and the United States. We also explore other factors that could explain this negative outcome, and we briefly discuss the opportunities for both Mexico and the United States to mutually benefit from a further economic integration process.

Environmental Protection and Natural Resources

Environmental issues and the management of natural resources have become a significant element of the binational relationship between Mexico and the United States during the last three decades. The environmental challenges now shaping the bilateral agenda for environmental cooperation are formidable and their address engages a rich and diverse set of institutions and stakeholders at multiple levels of government across the international boundary. This chapter studies environmental issues relevant to the two countries in the 21st century and suggests policy strategies to address them. The first part of the chapter discuss relevant environmental issues common to Mexico and the United States and their potential implications for their relationship in the short and long term. The second part analyzes binational efforts created to manage environmental issues and provide a critical perspective of their strengths and shortcomings. The last section of the chapter suggests recommendations to address those environmental challenges in the 21st century.

Evolving Democracy (4)

The U.S.-Mexico Relationship: Towards a New Era?

The U.S. and Mexico have been neighbors for more than two centuries. Despite intermittent attempts by Mexico to distance itself from the US out of a concern of US protectionism and its political, cultural and economic hegemony, a process of progressive economic and social integration has taken place among the two countries which expresses itself in high levels of trade, financial and labor flows. By 2001 some analysts and think tanks believed that sufficient progress had been achieved to propose a greater intensification of economic and social relations and even the creation of a North American Community. Multiple factors, however, have combined to dramatically transform the context of the relationship. The US and Mexico face a critical juncture in their economic, security, and social relations created by the US embarkation on a global War on International Terrorism after September 11, 2001, a sudden increase in levels of drug trade-related violence in Mexico, the US financial crisis stimulated by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, challenges thrown up by the dramatic reach of the economic globalization process, failed efforts to integrate the Western Hemisphere, and the need to incorporate new social forces as a result of the beginning of democratization in Mexico and its further development in the U.S. Will the policies adopted by each country to address these challenges lead to further cooperation and deepening of economic and social integration or is the progress previously achieved likely to derail?

Process Management in the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Relationship

In the absence of an overarching strategic framework, it is useful to conceive of the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Mexico as made up of a series of “baskets” of policies and programs. Each of these baskets constitutes a policy subsystem that responds to different arrays of institutions and interest groups; the relative priority of the baskets is typically weighed differently by different actors in each system; and the capacity of central governments to exercise influence varies across subsystems as well. This basket image obviously distorts and oversimplifies, but even so, the imagery conveys the complexity of the individual policy “whirlpools” and their interactions. The first section of the chapter traces the path in bilateral relations to the current setting; the second looks at the policy and programmatic issues associated with the rise to preeminence of security; and the third examines efforts to “rebalance” security with other issue areas. The last speculates about challenges likely to emerge in the Obama administration and the second half of the Calderón presidency.

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Monograph Series (4)

The Mexican Left, The Popular Movements, and the Politics of Austerity

Although a severe economic crisis has rocked Mexico since 1981, neither left-wing political parties nor the organized working class and urban popular movements have managed to mount any serious challenge to Mexico’s political and economic system. A closer look at developments since 1981, however, shows that the responses by the Mexican left cannot be dismissed so simply. The gloominess of the overall picture conceals the development of new tactics, the emergence of major new social actors, and renewed struggle among groups with long-standing traditions of radicalism. These issues, as well as the Mexican left’s general response to the “politics of austerity,” occupied the attention of a workshop held in May 1984 at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, on the campus of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). A representative group of Mexican socialists from both academic and mass-organization backgrounds attended the workshop to discuss the situation of the Mexican left. Presented here is their written analysis of the left’s response to the economic crisis.

Issues in United States-Mexican Agricultural Relations: A Binational Consultation

In February, 1981, the Center for US-Mexican Studies hosted a Binational Consultation on US-Mexican Agricultural Relations. The consultation sought to define the nature, causes, and consequences of flows of labor, capital, technology, and agricultural commodities across the US-Mexican border and to identify fruitful areas for additional research. Sections of the consultation were devoted to US-Mexican agricultural trade in an era of oil wealth and “food power”; Mexico’s crisis of production in the small-farm sector; public policy toward agriculture an rural development in Mexico; the Mexican Food System (SAM); Mexican labor in the US; the organization of farm workers in both countries; and the effects of migration on rural Mexican communities. Because of the publicity and controversy surrounding the initiation and performance of SAM, this monograph devotes special attention to the session of the consultation in which SAM was discussed and makes an effort to assess the experience of the SAM in the two years that followed the 1981 meeting.

Developing a Community Tradition of Migration: A Field Study in rural Zacatecas, Mexico, and California Settlement Areas

This study sought to take a close-up look at cross-border Mexican migration by collecting detailed information about one binational migratory village-based community. five major findings have resulted from this investigation: 1. Migrants are generally poor rural or urban dwellers who depend on reciprocity networks of mutual exchange with their friends and relatives and not on public institutions for their survival. 2. Migratory networks undergo a maturation process over time. 3. Job and social mobility within these networks is a function of who you know, not what you know. 4. The skills, money, and goods repatriated to Mexico from the US tend to raise the consumptive not the productive level of the sending areas. 5. The continual introduction of new, immature kin networks and the inability of some older ones to obtain good job contacts in the US accentuates the dualism inherent in the US job market.

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Project on Reforming the Administration of Justice in Mexico (38)

La Militarización de la Procuraduría General de la República: Riesgos para la Democracia Mexicana

México enfrenta el proceso de consolidación democrática con signos contradictorios dentro de la naturaleza misma de esta tarea. El ensayo examina como aun con la alternancia en el poder por el partido Acción Nacional, las Fuerzas Armadas en México han extendido su papel y presencia en distintos campos de la seguridad, inteligencia y justicia. El texto se centra en examinar el papel que han desempeñado las fuerzas armadas al frente de la Procuraduría General de la República a partir de la administración de Vicente Fox. Para la autora lo delicado de esta situación es que no se observa la creación de contrapesos civiles institucionalizados tanto en el ámbito del Ejecutivo como en dentro y fuera otras ramas del gobierno federal y de la sociedad en su conjunto. Lo anterior asienta una clara muestra de debilidad en el proceso de consolidación democrática para México.

Evaluando la “Estrategía Giuliani”: la Política de Cero Tolerancia en el Distrito Federal

The purpose of this paper is to asses the feasibility of a zero tolerance strategy in Mexico City as it was implemented in New York City during Giuliani time. Main attention goes to those factors that could benefit or reject the implementation of zero tolerance in Mexico City. In the first part, the author highlights some differences between both cities, Mexico and New York, regarding population, criminal justice systems and cultural settings. In the second part, the author develop a list of obstacles that could deter the implementation of zero tolerance in Mexico City. At the end, two preliminary conclusions are drawn. The first one states that while in New York “Zero Tolerance” was a political banner based on criminological knowledge and police tactics, in Mexico City, Zero Tolerance could be just a political banner. The second conclusion states that the implementation of Zero Tolerance in Mexico City is flawed from its conception because the City government chose the strategy, that means “the solution”, before they knew “the problem”. Finally, the article discuss an integral approach to crime control in order to set an agenda for those involved in the field.

Abuso Policial en la Ciudad de México

En este trabajo nos planteamos dos objetivos. Primero, una sistematización de los factores, ubicados en distintos niveles, que inciden en los casos de abuso policial. Segundo, aproximamos a una clasificación del abuso en los cuerpos policiales del Distrito Federal. Nuestro eje para dicha clasificación son las distintas lógicas del abuso que se encuentran detrás de la practicas cotidianas de los cuerpos de seguridad del D.F. La fuente de información utilizada será las Recomendaciones de la Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal desde su fundación en 1994 a la fecha. Las lógicas del abuso responden a tres modalidades: como sustituto de la investigación y de la prevención, como búsqueda de ganancias económicas ilegales y como castigo por retar o hacerle frente al "poder" de la policía.

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Other Recent Work (23)

Tendencias recientes de las remesas de los migrantes mexicanos en Estados Unidos

The flow of money sent home by Mexican migrants in the United States has grown impressively since 1990. New actors, new practices, as well as new economic and political interests have emerged around this process. This presentation will analyze recent trends in migrant remittances to Mexico as well as the socio-demographic, economic, and political developments associated with their growth. It will also examine the remittance behavior of Mexican migrants who settled in the U.S., and the official discourses disseminated by the Mexican state about the impact and role of migrant remittances in Mexico.

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