Just in cases…

For the record, Mexico was colonized by the Spanish via Hernan Cortez in 1509 or so.  The subsequent enslavement of the Mayans, Aztecs, and Toltecs, combined with the introduction of Western European diseases (and Western European religion) to a very non Western European world left the native populations decimated.  Through a system of haciendas and missions, the Spanish maintained their colony for nearly 300 years.  By 1810, however, the Mexican revolution had begun.  It lasted until 1821 and was a war of the elites, largely the wealthy of Spanish descent.  This was followed by the Era of Instability.  A series of wars and an ever changing gov’t (Santa Ana was elected 11 times) left Mexico shaky.  Following the War of American Agression (1841-1848), Mexico had not only lost Texas, but nearly half of its territory to the United States.  In 1863, on the basis of unpaid debt from loans made during the revolution, France overtook Mexico City, placed Emperor Maximillion I on the throne and declared Mexico a French colony.  This move was supported by the traditionalist elites, but pressure from the United States (who feared European influence in the Americas) ended this French occupation.  The French rule was followed by the Porfiriato: the reign of Porfirio Diaz.  Diaz was an American supported dictator who employed an ‘iron fist rule’, heavy foreign investment, and social superiority of the white race.  The Porfiriato was followed by another revolution under the four pillars of Mexico.  Each pillar was a different demographic with different reforms in mind and different leaders, but all united under a desire to lead Mexico away from the Porfiriato.  The pillars were as follows:  The Elites (desiring economic reform-led by Francisco Madero), the middle class (political reform), the peasants (land reform-Emiliano Zapatas), and the workers (workers rights-Pacho Villa).  Madero was elected president in 1911, but assassinated in 1913 (possibly by the order of the U.S. Secretary of State in reaction to Madero’s anti-foreign investment policy).  The civil conflict that followed left nearly 1.5 million dead.  In 1917, a new constitnution was enacted which declared Mexico a secular state, redistributed church land to the peasantry , granted universal male suffrage, and outlawed foreign investment.  The violence, however, continued in the 1920s.  Under President Plutarco Elias Calles (1924-1928) the party was run largely by party bosses (los jefes).  The PRI (or Institutional Revolutionary Party) was begun in 1929.  In 1930 the PRI began a rule that would last until 2000.  Lazaro Cardenas led the PRI and Mexico from 1934-1940 and began the first true unionization of Mexico under the Mexican Workers Federation and began to naturalize resources (PEMEX).  The government was presidential.  Presidential constitutional powers were executive and limited by terms.  “Meta” Constitutional powers included the president’s position as chief legislator, the ability to amend the constitution and to name a successor.  The “anti constitutional” powers of the president included a right to immunity, ability to intervene in legal processes, and unfounded firings.  The Congress of PRI dominated Mexico was bicameral (House of Deputies and Senate)  but was merely a rubber stamp institution.  The PRI has been called the “perfect dictatorship”, ruling uncontested for seventy years with highly centralized government (supported by the US out of desire for Mexican stability).  Economically, ISI ( Import Substitution Industrialization) was instuted from 1940-1970, tarrifs, and national control of industy led to the “Mexican Miracle”- a growth rate of 6-7% annually.  However, by the 1970s, the inefficiency of ISI and int’l loans taken on the gamble of the growing oil industry in Mexico left Mexico struggling.  The reform era that followed saw Mexico privitizing industry, cutting government spending, and renegotiating debt.  ISI was suspended and foreign investment again allowed.  The economic crisis that led to reform also led to the fall of the PRI.  In 1989, the PRD formed to challenge the one party rule of the PRI and in 2000 Vincente Fox was elected (a member of the PAN party) and the 2006 election included two non-PRI parties and was arguable the first free election.  Filipe Calderon (PAN) has seen problems including issues of emigration and the war on drugs.

The Federative Republic of Brazil:

Brazil was colonized by the Portuguese under Pedro Alvarez Cabral in the sixteenth century.  The Portuguese transformed Brazil into a plantation system, worked by African slaves.  (It is estimated the between 3.5/4 million Africans were sold to Portuguese plantations in Brazil.) Portuguese interest in Brazil deepened when vast reserves of coal and diamonds were found in the seventeenth century in Minas Gerais.  In 1807, faced with the threat of f Napoleon, the Portuguese king fled to Brazil.  He there established the Kingdom of Brazil.  Under his son, and the constitution of 1824, Brazil became a constitutional monarcy.  Even after the threat of the Napoleonic empire faded, Brazil remained an empire, independent of Portugal, though maintaining strong ties.  The abolition of slaves under King Dom Pedro II in 1888 led to the end of the monarchy and the rise of what is now known as the “Old Republic”.  The 1891 constitution (modeled after the US constitution) instituted a federative republic with 26 states.  It was an oligarchic rule under the “Latte Regime” of San Paolo, Minas Gerais, and the Rio de Janeiro.  When the economic crisis of the 1930s hit the Brazilian coffee industrie, the military took over, establishing Gertulion Vargas as president.  Vargas established himself via popular support.  He implimented ISI and supported worker’s rights.  The military supported constitution of 1934 would have ended Vargas’ rule, but he participated in “autogolpe” in 1937, dismissing his own government to remain in power.  In 1945, a military coup ousted Vargas, only to see him reelected in 1950.  A second military coup in 1954 removed him from power for the last time.  Military rule maintained Brazil from 1964-1985.  This was a restoration of the Old Republic, but was legitimized by a 1967 constitution and Brazi claimed to be a democratic union with a multiple party system.  Under international pressure for economic change, the military gave way to a civilian rule under the 1988 constitution.  Institutions of this civilian rule are an executive/legislatative presidency (2-4 year terms).  A bi-cameral congress but an unfortunately inefficient number of parties.  Voting is mandatory for 18-70 year olds, but write in policy makes in difficulty for the illiterate.  Economically, Brazil began to diversify after the Great Depression coffee crisis.  Under the “New State” and Vargas, growth, and problems were similar to Mexico under PRI.  Under military rule, Brazil experienced high debt, expensive parastatal industries, an energy crisis (solved by developing sugar-cane biofuel).  Following military rule, a 1993 renegotiation of debt cut welfare programs, welcomed foreign investors, and forced privitization.  Current Brazilian challenges include the widespread favelas due to hyper-urbanization.  A GINI known as Belindia, and questions of land reform, promoted by groups like the MST (Movement of Landless Rural Workers) who use constitutional loopholes to occupy “unproductive” land.

Demographics/Environment:

Carrying Capacity: highest population level a habitat can sustain indefinitely (current problems with our carrying capacity: exploding world population, consumption of resources/population, limits to sustainable growth)

The blame game: The 1st world blames the 3rd world for its exploding population and subsequent use of resources while the 3rd world blames the 1st world for its use of resources that is 20x that of use in the 3rd world.

Global ecocide:  mass deaths due to environmental conditions such as African desertification and Amazon abuses.  Death levels estimated at 35 million.

Water management and pollution:  eutrophication- poisoning of water bodies due to fertilizer and pesticide spills. 3% of the world’s water is fresh and usable, 70% of that is used for agriculture, and 40% of that is wasted.

Pressures on Agriculture: overuse of arable land (ex. India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh), does not allow time for plots of land to lay fallow and rebuild soil nutrients. (In China, 90,000 acres of arable land have become desert)

Forest loss in Africa is at a loss rate of 3-4% a year and 5% in SouthEast Asia.   Population growth is the main cause of this.  Needs for commercial lumber, land, and fuel.

Worst offenders as far as environmental distress: Jakarta, Shanghai, Calcutta, and Manila.

Grassroots organizations seem to be the surest way to ensure change.  LOOK TO GERMANY!

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