CIPR | Center For Inter-American Policy & Research

Tulane University

Mexico at a Crossroads

In November of 2011, the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research and El Colegio de México held a conference at Tulane University to discuss key issues confronted by Mexico at the start of the twenty first century.

The event focused on Mexico’s future challenges, informed by an analysis of the country’s history and its present circumstances. It was inspired by the Colegio’s release of the series Los grandes problemas de México, a seventeen volume series edited to commemorate the Institution’s seventieth anniversary. Participants at the conference discussed social, economic, and political issues in seven panels over two days. Presenters and discussants on the panels represented scholars and policy experts from El Colegio, Tulane, and other premier U.S. academic and research institutions. The inaugural panel provided the historical backdrop to contextualize the complexities of present-day Mexico, analyzing the nation’s debated history, beginning with independence from Spain and then the Mexican Revolution. A second panel examined the international context by tracing the evolution of Mexican foreign policy, both with regard to other Latin American countries and the United States. It was followed by a special presentation by Mexican Undersecretary of State Julián Ventura, which also focused on U.S.-Mexican relations, particularly trade and border policy. Panels three and four addressed longstanding questions related to Mexican economic development, including the relative adequacy of economic growth, the sustainability of poverty and inequality reductions, the effects of policy choices on economic outcomes, and the persistence of structural limitations to growth in the Mexican economy. On the second day of the conference, the panels turned to the discussion of key contemporary issues in the domestic and international arenas. The first panel explored the challenges posed by demographic change and migration. Panelists analyzed the evolution of population and migration trends and the reciprocal impacts between them and social and economic forces. They also focused on government efforts to control migration and their intended and unintended effects. Participants on the second panel discussed the consolidation of Mexican democracy since its transition from single party rule at the turn of the century, pondering the challenges and dilemmas that persist in spite of considerable progress. The final panel examined security and drug trafficking, two issues that have played an outsized role in Mexican domestic affairs and U.S.-Mexican relations in recent years. The conference was capped by a provocative keynote presentation by Jaime Serra, Mexico’s former Minister of Trade and Treasury, which stimulated debate about the real obstacles to Mexico’s trade and economic growth.

This document was prepared by Ludovico Feoli with inputs provided by Hannagan Johnson and Michael Legendre. It provides a brief synthesis of the presentations and some of the interventions by discussants and participants. It also highlights some of the conclusions reached during this fruitful two-day conference.

Mexico at a Crossroads

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