Politics Of Mexico, Nafta Essay

4225 words - 17 pages

Pretty good, could have touched base with NAFTA more could have touched base with NAFTA moreMexico was the site of some of the earliest and most advanced civilizations in the westernhemisphere. The Mayan culture, according to archaeological research, attained its greatestdevelopment about the 6th century AD. Another group, the Toltec, established an empire inthe Valley of Mexico and developed a great civilization still evidenced by the ruins ofmagnificent buildings and monuments. The leading tribe, the Aztec, built great cities anddeveloped an intricate social, political, and religious organization. Their civilizationwas highly developed, both intellectually and artistically. The first European explorer tovisit Mexican territory was Francisco Fernández de Córdoba, who in 1517 discovered traces ofthe Maya in Yucatán. In 1535, some years after the fall of the Aztec capital, the basicform of colonial government in Mexico was instituted with the appointment of the firstSpanish viceroy, Antonio de Mendoza. A distinguishing characteristic of colonial Mexico wasthe exploitation of the Native Americans. Although thousands of them were killed during theSpanish conquest, they continued to be the great majority of inhabitants of what wasreferred to as New Spain, speaking their own languages and retaining much of their nativeculture. Inevitably they became the laboring class. Their plight was the result of the'encomienda' system, by which Spanish nobles, priests, and soldiers were granted not onlylarge tracts of land but also jurisdiction over all Native American residents. A secondcharacteristic of colonial Mexico was the position and power of the Roman Catholic church.Franciscan, Augustinian, Dominican, and Jesuit missionaries entered the country with theconquistadores. The Mexican church became enormously wealthy through gifts and bequests thatcould be held in perpetuity. Before 1859, when church holdings were nationalized, thechurch owned one-third of all property and land. A third characteristic was the existence ofrigid social classes: the Native Americans, the mestizos, mixed Spanish and Native American(an increasingly large group during the colonial era), black slaves which were brought fromAfrica and the Caribbean, freed blacks and white Mexicans. The white Mexicans werethemselves divided. Highest of all classes was that of the peninsulares, those born inSpain, as opposed to the criollos, or Creoles--people of pure European descent who had beenborn and raised in New Spain. The peninsulares were sent from Spain to hold the highestcolonial offices in both the civil and church administrations. The peninsulars heldthemselves higher than the criollos, who were almost never given high office. Theresentment of the criollos became an influential force in the later movement forindependence. In 1808 the viceroy, under pressure from influential criollos, permitted themto participate in the administration. Other peninsular officials...

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