Latin America’s New Turbulence: Mexico’s Stalled Reforms

Issue Date April 2016
Volume 27
Issue 2
Page Numbers 66-78
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Following his election as president, the domestic and international media heralded the prospect of the PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto ushering in “Mexico’s Moment.” The expectation of greater economic development and lower crime rates was so high that observers even preemptively labeled Mexico the “Aztec Tiger.” Initially, the country appeared to be on the path to successful reforms, which promised to jolt the economy out of stagnation and bring much needed growth and development. Within the first year of Peña Nieto’s administration, fiscal, telecommunications, antitrust, banking, education, and electoral reforms were adopted. As Peña Nieto’s presidency matured, however, the so-called Mexico Moment lost steam, derailed by important setbacks in the two most important spheres for Mexicans: public safety and the economy. The growth that was to follow the structural reforms has not materialized, and public safety concerns are as present as ever. Growth has remained tepid, and violent crime continues to be high. Additionally, the government’s record regarding human rights, freedom of press, and transparency has been dismal. How did the administration that had successfully approved the most significant structural reforms—many of which had been postponed for decades—find itself in this situation?

About the Author

Gustavo A. Flores-Macías is assistant professor of government at Cornell University. He is the author of After Neoliberalism? The Left and Economic Reforms in Latin America (2012).

View all work by Gustavo Flores-Macías