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No. 4, December 2009

The 2009 issue of El Norte offers four articles delving into the historical legacy and current state of Latin American dependency, discussing particularly the impacts and contestation of oligarchic developmental projects in Mexico and Argentina.

By telling the history of one of the most important energy projects in Mexico, the Grivalja dams, the article of Niklas Robinson assesses the struggle to incorporate Mexico’s rural areas into the technocratic vision of the Mexican state. Modernist projects applied in Mexico sought to elevate impoverished peripheries through a rigid application and influx of labor and technology. Simultaneously, the increase in violence and governmental repression reached its climax.

Both Robinson’s and Gian Delgado’s articles address the Latin American technological dependency, the technocratic elites desire to modernize their countries, and the often simultaneous repression of democratic, environmental and human rights in the name of development. Delgado brings forth the power and impact of the contemporary Mexican business oligarchy in shaping the path of industrial transformation. The Mexican case exemplifies the continuing and even deepening Latin American dependency and the utilization of positivist science to legitimize oligarchic power relations and top-down developmental projects.

Rutilio Pereyra and Juan Solórzano tease out further the strong influence of the United States in shaping the developmental trajectory of especially the Mexican frontier. In a clear example of developmental order and dependency, El Paso exported its vices south of the border to Ciudad Juarez. The development of a vice-based tourism-industry and city-image led to the idea of economic and social superiority on the northern side of the frontier. Latin American developmental trajectories seem to always have two sides to them, both internationally and domestically.

By examining the Argentinean protests led by piqueteros and asambleas, Taru Salmenkari considers how citizens can overthrow unpopular rulers, regimes and economic policies, even though the political opportunity structure envisioned by political theorists would suggest it to be hard, even impossible, to change the developmental trajectory. The article shows how movements’ actual opportunities differ from the classic conceptualization of political opportunities, pointing out a need to change the prevailing understanding of political opportunities, besides showing how change is possible even under conditions of dependency.



Maquilización y Dependencia Tecnológica: el caso de México

By Gian Carlo Delgado

Neoliberalism has increased deindustrialization and denationalization of the national industries, especially in the strategic sectors. This article uses political sociology to assess the behavior, contradictions, interests and capital accumulation participation of the contemporary Mexican business oligarchy. The results indicate that Mexico, instead of developing science and technology to stimulate industrialization, has become increasingly dependent. The article concludes with alternative developmental proposals, for Mexico in particular, and Latin America in general.


The Decade of the Grijalva: Bureaucratic Change and the Streamlined Politics of Water Management in Southeastern Mexico

By Niklas Robinson

Beginning in 1947, the Mexican PRI technocrats embarked on a nationwide modernization program to enhance energy production, agricultural output and expand transportation networks, relying on the corporatist political strategy employed with stunning success during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas. Engineers estimated the Grijalva River basin contained over fifty percent of the nation's hydropower and proposed a series of multi-purpose dams. The history of Grijalva exemplifies how Latin American mega-projects incur damaging and unpredictable consequences, such as population displacements, environmental disruption, soil erosion, declining water quality, and the initiation of cultural, ethnic and labor conflicts.


La representación del vicio a partir del desarrollo económico de una zona de frontera: Ciudad Juárez (México) y El Paso (Estados Unidos)

By Rutilio García Pereyra & Juan Manuel Madrid Solórzano

The history of industrial development and trade in the early twentieth century in the Ciudad Juarez/El Paso area of the U.S.-Mexico border highlights the roots of Latin American dependency on the United States. This article considers how and why these activities gave rise to the promotion of legislation against the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol in El Paso, and the creation of a tourism sector based on activities that were considered illegal on the American side in Ciudad Juarez.


Political Opportunities and Protest Mobilization in Argentina

By Taru Salmenkari

This article considers Argentinean protest mobilization to illustrate how there is a divergence between the actual opportunities social movements use and the political opportunities social movement scholarship prioritizes, such as elite reactions and repression. It also points out how structural opportunities matter: lack of media interest in collective action or a different kind of social aid distribution system would render Argentine movements much weaker than they currently are.


 Notes & Reviews

Hondurasin sotilasvallankaappaus ajoi maan vakavaan kriisiin ja kertoo Latinalaisen Amerikan poliittisten rajalinjojen suunnasta

By Jussi Pakkasvirta


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