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Week 6 Essay

Week 7 Nash

Week 8 Manz

Week 9 Manz

Week 10 Binford

Week 11 Binford

Week 12 Oppenheimer

Week 12 Quinnones

Week 12 Essay 2 Question

Week 12 Essay 2

Week 13 Oppenheimer

Week 13 Quinnones

Week 14 Dow

Week 15 Dow

Final Paper


Victoria Kline
Anthropology 582: Mesoamerican Cultures
November 24, 2004
Dr. Ramona Perez

Bordering on Chaos Part II

Chapter 8 A Bittersweet Victory: Zedillo is elected president of Mexico. The economy of the country is in a bad state at his takeover. “The only part of the economy that was booming was one the president elect would rather see collapse: the drug trade” (164). And the drug trade in Colombian cocaine was out of hand with large and fast transport old passenger jets instead of the small planes that had been used in earlier years, and the military diversion to Chiapas had taken away much of the policing power that had been used to fight drug import and export (164). Notwithstanding, the Zedillo victory was valid according to international observers.

The author has lunch with one of the PRI supporting members, a wealthy congressman who tells Oppenheimer that the political reforms the PAN Party required needed to be done gradually, or would shatter “the political stability that Mexico had managed to maintain for so many decades” (175). The wealthy were going to be fighting the reforms; reforms would no doubt affect them in the negative. 

Chapter 9 Murder in the Family: Zedillo begins his office of president by calling for reforms to government to end corruption, telling his wealthy and powerful audience that government was not the “place to amass wealth” (185). Zedillo’s reign as president starts out with economic extensive economic problems (186). In the midst of all the economic turmoil, one of the PRI executives is murdered. An investigation into the murder leads to the PRI party itself, right up through the ranks. This is another blow to the ruling party and added to the confusion and chaos felt by the people of Mexico at the time. More foreign investment money left the country with the results of the investigation. 

In a twist ending to this chapter the investigator of the murder victim who happened to be the brother of the murder victim, ended up covering up the involvement of Salinas’ brother Raul Salinas in the murder. Then the investigator himself was implicated in his own brother’s murder, for payoffs in money!

Chapter 10 The Secret Meeting: A new investigator had taken over the case concerning the murder of Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu. The new investigator was the one who was able to trace the murder to the ex-President Salinas’s brother Raul. Raul arrested. Salinas protested and went on a hunger strike. A secret meeting with President Zedillo and ex-President Salinas seemed to end in mutual agreement to something although no one knew what that agreement was. Many interviews, many theories about what went on. Ex-President Salinas surely is implicated in the murder plot.

Chapter 11 The Christmas Nightmare: the Zapatistas broke “the nearly one-year-old de facto truce with the army” (215). This news added to the loss of confidence in the Mexican economy. The truce was broken on December 19, 1994 and caused further problems in the stock market, and devaluation of the peso. It was a swift devaluation and more money was removed from investment in Mexico. There was a lot of finagling going on and a need for the US to provide a bailout package of billions of dollars, but at the end of the year and the holiday season happening up here, that was not going to happen. The US eventually bailed out Mexico but at great concessions to the US.   

Chapter 12 Unmasking Marcos: An informant, “Javier,” gave up information about Marcos to the Mexican government. The informant was a disgruntled ex-Subcommander Daniel, one who had just broke with the Zapatistas and had a personal agenda against Marcos. Now we get to know where Marcos came from! Both the informant and Marcos had been professors of “philosophy and graphic design” (236) at the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Xochimilco in the early 1980s. They both ended up in the Chiapas highlands and Lacandon Rainforest as leaders of the Zapatista uprising. The two clashed, Daniel accusing Marcos of self-aggrandizement. Daniel fled the Zapatista army then sent letters to the government telling them he had information on Marcos and the Zapatistas. The letters were overlooked for some time because the government received many such letters that ended up being fake. Over time, the letters became more detailed and showed knowledge of the Zapatistas that could only be had from contact with them. With the information provided by the informant the military and police had all it needed to eliminate the Zapatistas in the highlands and safe houses in towns. President Zedillo succumbed to pressure from Wall Street and the military to begin the actions necessary to put an end to the rebellion. There was careful orchestration of the timing of army maneuvers and public statements to put Zedillo’s government in the right. Marcos was exposed, the other leaders were exposed; the inner workings of the Zapatista army were exposed. The Mexican military was on its way to arrest Marcos, but he was able to slip away and avoid capture. But his true identity had become known.

Chapter 13 Unmasking Mexico “In Mexico words were the cheapest commodity. You could change them around at a moment’s notice” (264). Author Oppenheimer discovers that what people say, even audio-recorded statements, from the PRI, were not necessarily true, and that words were used to divert and protect rather that to make a true story known. How can one tell a truth out of a seemingly endless barrage of truth mixed with lies? Oppenheimer relates to us “Mexican newspapers jolted you almost daily with a seemingly endless stream of bizarre revelations that…kept you in a permanent state of agitation” (264). When Oppenheimer describes some of the headlines and storylines he makes it sound like our Enquirer, Star, or Globe “newspapers” aimed at relating the most bizarre tales that the reader does not always know are lies mixed with truth. He asks “How could one write about a country where one could not only not trust what people said, but wasn’t even sure whether people were who they were supposed to be?” (265-266). Oppenheimer shows that the people of Mexico have so long been lied to that they are skeptical of what they hear as the truth. This does not address the panic reaction he described as happening in response to earlier to newsbreaks. Smiling in greeting and hugging, says Oppenheimer, “was said to be a by-product of Mexico’s culture of deceit” (271), and that this is part of a self-protective mechanism that Mexican’s must employ in order to survive (271-272).

Chapter 14 The Northern Offensive: One of the ways in which government official lied was in reference to their academic qualifications especially those having to do with prominent US universities. The Reforma, a daily Mexico City newspaper started reporting on several instances of truth stretching in order to land a high position in government. To get the jobs, the officials had made up their credentials! This investigation into the credential of President Zedillos’s Cabinet began in 1995. One official had to resign because of the information put forth in the newspaper. The others managed to hold onto their jobs!

Mexico is divided into three distinct “countries”: Northern, Central, and Southern Mexico. Part of the reason Mexico was ready to expose the deceit government cabinet members about their academic degree status was that Northern Mexico was becoming an industrialized area with influence from the US and the idea of becoming modernized. Northern Mexico was gaining power. A family from Northern Mexico started a newspaper in Mexico City. They had money and clout, and did not need bolstering by the Mexican government or any US capital. Essentially they were autonomous and wished to produce a paper that reported the truth without accepting bribery, advertisement, or government propaganda. They also didn’t take any crap from the PRI funded newspaper distributing union. Northern Mexico benefited the most from the free trade agreement.

Northern Mexico was able, through the beer industry, to open a university patterned after MIT, and provide employment based on “skill rather than on their political or family connections” (284). The campus expanded over Mexico to twenty-six locations.

The PAN party had the most political influence in northern Mexico. The residents and business owners there felt that the problems that were happening in the central and southern Mexican states did not affect them; whatever happened that far away happened in a different country (287-288). The US has opened business close to the border and in Mexico, to which the Mexican consumer has readily begun consumption the most detrimental of which is probably our fast convenience foods.

I am sure the last two chapters are very good but I am unable to complete them presently, as it is time to go to class! Great book that I will finish as soon as my two final papers are done and I have read, and completed in a timely manner, the book by Dow.


Oppenheimer, Andres
1998    Bordering on Chaos: Mexico's Roller-Coaster Journey Toward Prosperity. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

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