The Country (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Mexico is located in North America, sharing a border with the United States to the north. It is bordered to the south by Belize and Guatemala in Central America. To the east, Mexico borders the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. The country’s western shore meets the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of California, and the Gulf of Tehuantepec. Only about one-third of Mexico is flat. A chain of volcanic mountains runs east-west across the country just south of Mexico City. Plateaus also dominate the landscape. The Sierra Madre mountain chains surround the region’s plateau in a V shape. The Sonoran Desert covers the area east of the Gulf of California. Mexico’s economy is the eleventh largest in the world. In 2007, the average annual income was $14,400. A large portion of Mexico’s income results from oil production. The country is a leading producer of silver and also mines copper, lead, zinc, and gold.
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Silver (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Mexico is the second leading producer of silver in the world (2.8 million kilograms in 2007). Four of the top twelve silver mines (in terms of production) in 2007 were located in Mexico’s silver belt in the center of the country. The majority of silver is taken from mines in Guanajuato, Pachuca, and Zacatecas.
The city of Taxco is one of the oldest mining sites in the Western Hemisphere. Within a year of conquering the Aztecs in 1521, the Spanish discovered the value of Taxco. By the beginning of the seventeenth century, silver mined in Taxco could be found throughout Europe. Taxco became known worldwide for its silver wealth. For the Spanish, it also was the primary mining site for several precious metals. However, as richer and more accessible veins were found, Taxco slowly faded in mining importance.
Don José de la Borda, known as the father of Taxco, rediscovered the city’s silver wealth in 1716. He used part of the fortune he made to build schools, houses, roads, and Taxco’s famous Santa Prisca Cathedral. Silversmithing and mining was forgotten again during Mexico’s war for independence. The Spanish destroyed the silver mines so that Mexican revolutionaries could not gain their control.
William Spratling, an American professor of architecture, moved to Mexico in 1929. Spratling became interested in Taxco’s silver history. He encouraged local artists to become silversmiths. Spratling also created an...
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Petroleum (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Petroleum and petroleum-related products have a long history in Mexico. Asphalt and bitumen, or pitch, has been used in Mexico since the time of the Aztecs. They are believed to have used asphalt to secure stone arrowheads on the ends of wooden spears. The first time oil was refined into kerosene was in 1876, near the city of Tampico on Mexico’s eastern coast. By 1917, large quantities of Mexican oil were being drilled and refined by American and British companies. The Mexican government then proclaimed in its constitution ownership of all the country’s mineral rights. In 1938, strikes over wages from foreign-owned companies led to the creation of Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) by Mexican president Lázaro Cárdenas. This caused many of the foreign companies to leave Mexico. Pemex is the ninth largest oil company worldwide, and the largest in Latin America. Pemex is responsible for exploration, extraction, refining, transportation, distribution, and marketing of petroleum, petroleum products, and natural gas. Between heavy taxes and direct payments made to the government, Pemex is responsible for one-third of Mexico’s annual revenues.
Mexico is the world’s sixth largest producer of crude oil (3.5 million barrels per day in 2007) and is ninth in exports. It ranks seventeenth by amount of oil reserves. However, Mexico has passed peak production of oil, depleting its resources, and overall production has begun to decline. This...
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Natural Gas (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Methane is the main component of natural gas. In addition to methane, natural gas can include ethane, propane, butane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and helium. Natural gas, like petroleum and coal, forms from fossil fuels or in isolated natural gas fields. Extensive refining removes almost everything but methane. The natural gas industry in Mexico is run by Pemex. In 2008, Mexico ranked sixteenth in natural-gas production (55,980 million cubic meters) and thirty-fourth globally in proven reserves (392.2 billion cubic meters).
In 1995, some control of the natural gas industry was turned over to private industry. Pemex continued to control exploration, production, and firsthand sales. Pemex continues to own most of the pipelines throughout the country. Private companies handle transportation, storage, and distribution of natural gas. In 2005, several natural gas sites were found, which increased production and jobs. In 2007, natural gas pipelines became the target of attacks by the Ejército Popular Revolucionario (the People’s Revolutionary Army), a small antigovernment terrorist group formed in the 1990’s. The attacks resulted in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in production profits.
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Copper (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
In the late nineteenth century, a series of copper deposits were found near Santa Rosalía. These mines have been mostly depleted. Remaining copper is produced from open-pit mines near Cananea and La Caridad. Mexico remains the twenty-second largest exporter of copper in the world. In 2007, copper exports brought in more than $320 million for Mexico. The top copper-exporting nation is Chile, where the industry made $5 billion in 2007. There are insufficient known reserves to maintain the world’s current consumption of copper. Scientists estimate that the world population will deplete the Earth of known copper by about 2070 if the current rate of consumption continues. However, if the demand continues to increase, the world’s copper might last until only 2035.
Mexico’s largest mining company, Grupo Mexico SAB, has been fighting a lawsuit over control of the Southern Copper Corporation of Peru. American courts ruled that Grupo Mexico had to return 30 percent of its stock in Southern Copper to another mining company, Asarco. Asarco, a company based in Tucson, Arizona, was owned by Grupo Mexico until 2005, when it became board-managed, and the legal battle started. In 2009, Grupo Mexico appealed the judge’s ruling. At the same time, Grupo Mexico was dealing with a strike among its workers at the country’s largest copper mine, Cananea, near the U.S. border. The strike started over health and safety standards. The company was...
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Zinc (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
In 2006, Mexico was ranked sixth in global zinc production, producing 453,893 metric tons. Mexico exported $172.8 million worth of zinc in 2007, ranking ninth worldwide. Canada is the world’s leading zinc exporter, making more than $546 million in 2007. The largest producer of zinc in Mexico is the state of Chihuahua. The Charcas mine in the state of San Luis Potosí, in north-central Mexico, is the top zinc-producing mine. Production of zinc in the country has risen; new mines were opened in 2001, and others expanded in 2002. A Canadian company, Canasil Resources, found a vein of zinc and silver in the state of Durango. The company was exploring a 29-square-kilometer patch of flatland with a geologic intrusion. Samples taken of the intrusion in 2006 were found to contain high levels of zinc. Canasil expanded its property in the area to include an addition 1,000 square kilometers to the north and east. Early stages of drilling began in 2007. Two zones containing high concentrations of zinc at relatively shallow depths were found with the potential to yield a new zinc district in Mexico.
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Forests and Timber (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Scientists estimate that in the mid-sixteenth century more than two-thirds of Mexico was forest. Today, the tropical forests of the southern and eastern parts of the country are largely all that remain. However, Mexico contains 1.3 percent of the world’s total forest reserves, and one-quarter of the country is classified as forest. Mexico has more species of pine and oak trees than anywhere else in the world. Nonetheless, logging has depleted Mexico’s forests severely. Some pine forests in the northern part of the country have been conserved, but the practice is not widespread. The national tree is the cypress, which is found near water in semiarid regions. Mexico also has a number of ceiba trees, which were sacred to the Mayas. The Mayas believed that a ceiba tree stood at the center of the Earth, connecting it with the spirit world overhead. Ceiba trees grow in tropical regions, tall with large canopies that house several different species. Even in modern deforestation, ceiba trees are often spared.
Mexico’s rain forests along the gulf coast and throughout the country are being cut down, and the land burned by farmers to expand their fields. This rain forest is part of the Maya Forest, which covers the Yucatán Peninsula, northern Guatemala, and parts of Belize, 5.3 million hectares in total. Efforts to preserve the forest, and the Mayan ruins within, have been complicated by a rapidly growing population. In...
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Other Resources (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Mexico is twenty-fourth in the world in exportation of nonmonetary gold. In 2007, gold exports amounted to more than $160 million. Gold is a popular metal used in jewelry, sculpture, and coins. Gold occurs naturally as granules, nuggets, and large deposits.
Lead is another metal that is heavily mined in Mexico. Bullets, pipes, pewter, radiation shields, batteries, and weights are all made from lead. Lead is also poisonous and can cause a variety of problems, including blood and brain disorders, nerve damage, even death. Mexico is also the sixth largest producer of salt in the world.
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Further Reading (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Bowles, Ian, and Glenn Prickett, eds. Footprints in the Jungle: Natural Resource Industries, Infrastructure, and Biodiversity Conservation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Fernandez, Linda, and Richard Carson, eds. Both Sides of the Border: Transboundary Environmental Management Issues Facing Mexico and the United States. New York: Springer, 2002.
Ibarrarán, María, and Roy Boyd. Hacia el Futuro: Energy, Economics, and the Environment in Twenty-first Century Mexico. New York: Springer, 2006.
Joseph, Gilbert, and Timothy Henderson, eds. The Mexican Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2003.
Meyer, Michael C., and William H. Beezley, eds. The Oxford History of Mexico. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Nobel, John, ed. Mexico. 11th ed. Oakland, Calif.: Lonely Planet, 2008.
Primack, Richard, et al., eds. Timber, Tourists, and Temples: Conservation and Development in the Maya Forest of Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1997.
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Historical and Political Context (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Mexico has experienced political strife throughout its history, including major wars and executions of leaders. The Spaniards invaded the region in 1519, conquering the Aztec and Mayan native cultures. Mexico attempted to declare independence from Spain in 1810, resulting in war and the execution of a number of leaders from Mexico. This war of independence lasted until 1821, when Spain finally granted Mexico its autonomy. The Mexico of 1821 included most of present-day Central America and the southwestern United States.
There was constant strife in Mexico until 1867, especially between a group supporting the centralized federal government required by the 1824 constitution and a group that supported a more localized government. During this time, the constitution was suspended, which resulted in civil war. The Republic of Texas, among others, declared independence from Mexico and was able to defeat the Mexican forces. Later, Mexico lost a war with the United States for control of Texas.
In 1867, Benito Juárez restored the republic of Mexico as a democracy, and he began to modernize the country. His acts reduced the power of the Catholic Church over Mexican politics, required equal rights for all people, and brought the army under civilian control. Porfirio Díaz was the ruler of Mexico from 1876 to 1911. He helped invest in the arts and sciences, and he improved Mexico’s economy, reducing economic...
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Impact of Mexican Policies on Climate Change (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Mexico has a free-market economy with the eleventh highest gross domestic product (GDP) in the world. Mexico has improved railroads, the distribution of natural gas, airports, and the generation of electricity. It has also become the largest producer of cars and trucks in North America. The economy of Mexico tends to be linked to that of the United States, as economic downturns and upturns in the United States have been reflected in Mexico. The country has a large middle class, although there are still significant income disparities among the Mexican people. Many persons live in poverty, especially in rural areas.
Mexico has made a definite commitment to energy conservation to reduce pollutants and greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere and to promote energy efficiency. The nation has seven major metropolitans areas with populations over one million. The Mexico City metropolitan area is the largest, with over twenty-two million inhabitants.
The use of refining fuels such as gasoline and diesel, the two most used liquid fuels, has been growing steadily in Mexico. For instance, the use of refining fuels in Mexico grew from 141,000 kiloliters per day in 1988 to 206,000 kiloliters per day in 2000. Lead was eliminated from gasoline, and sulfur in gasoline and diesel fuels was drastically decreased in the 1990’s. Fuel oil (4 percent sulfur) and national diesel (2 percent sulfur) have been...
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Mexico as a GHG Emitter (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
The GHG emissions of Mexico have grown steadily since 1990. For instance, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were estimated to be 385 million metric tons in 2000 and 438 million metric tons in 2007. During this period, Mexico produced about 1.6 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. The largest CO2 emissions are from burning of fuels from industry and in the home (about 32 percent) and from transportation (about 15 percent). Mexico’s CO2 emissions will likely continue to increase as the country remains dependent on fossil fuels and its population grows, unless a more effective means to reduce emissions can be found.
Mexico signed the Kyoto Protocol in 2000. The goal of the protocol was to stabilize GHG emissions (especially those of CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, and sulfur hexafluoride) to prevent climate change. The industrialized countries agreed to reduce their GHG emissions by 5.2 percent compared to those of 1990. The Kyoto Protocol was put into effect in February, 2005. The treaty divided countries into Annex I (industrialized) countries and non-Annex I (developing) countries. Under the treaty, an Annex I country can invest in projects to help reduce GHG emissions in a non-Annex I country. The Annex I country will earn credit for reducing the other country’s GHG emissions that it can use to offset its own emissions in excess of its treaty obligations. For instance, Japan could invest in developing solar energy...
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Summary and Foresight (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
The economy of Mexico in the latter half of the twentieth century went from an agrarian economy to a more industrialized economy, increasing national consumption of fossil fuels and production of hard goods such as cars and trucks. Correspondingly, GHG emissions spiraled upward as well. The Mexican government has become more stable in the early twenty-first century than it was for much of its past, as political and police corruption have decreased. Nevertheless, there still appears to be a number of corrupt government officials, including police officers, who are ready to take bribes.
Traffic in illegal drugs appears to be a steadily increasing problem in Mexico. The so-called drug lords have been killing the police, army officials, one another, and many innocent civilians. Some civilians appear to have been held for ransom to obtain more money for the drug lords and some persons appear to have been killed to provoke fear in the general population. Also, some local areas in Mexico have been taken over by those involved with drugs. There may be an imminent danger that much of Mexico could be destabilized if these actions continue, and an unstable society will be much less equipped to institute climate policy initiatives to respond to global warming. Thus, Mexico must curtail these problems to be able to progress as a stable, democratic society. The efforts of Mexico to reduce the GHG emissions could fail if money is...
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Further Reading (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Boyd, Roy, and Maria E. Ibarraran. “Costs of Compliance with the Kyoto Protocol: A Developing Country Prospective.” Energy Economics 24 (2002): 21-39. Describes a potential method for Mexico to limit GHG emissions by imposing an energy tax on the burning of fossil fuels.
Islas, Jorge, Fabio Manzini, and Omar Masera. “A Prospective Study of Bioenergy Use in Mexico.” Energy 32 (2007): 2306-2320. Describes the use of wood, farming fuels (such as alcohol produced to run cars), and municipal waste as alternative fuels to reduce CO2 emissions. Numerous tables and figures.
McKinley, Galen, et al. “Quantification of Local and Global Benefits from Air Pollution Control in Mexico City.” Environmental Science and Technology 39 (2005): 1954-1961. Summarizes information about air pollution in Mexico City and potential means for improving air quality. Includes seven data tables.
Mexico Air Quality Management Team. “Improving Air Quality in Metropolitan Mexico City: An Economic Evaluation.” Washington, D.C.: World Bank Latin America and the Caribbean Region, 2002. Evaluates air pollution in Mexico City and argues that reducing air pollution by certain amounts could affect the health of the residents. Tables and graphs.
Nova, M., J. Gasca, and U. Gonzalez. “The Energy Demand and the Impact by Fossil Fuels Use in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area from 1988 to 2000.”...
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Mexico (Encyclopedia of Food & Culture)
MEXICO. The Mexicans form a mestizo nation, born of the intermarriage of Spaniards and Native Americans, and their foods reflect this mixed heritage. Before the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish, the indigenous people created a sophisticated cuisine based on the staple grain maize (corn), which they cooked in a multitude of fashions, from everyday tortillas (griddle cakes) to festive tamales (dumplings). The conquistadors, hoping to establish a New Spain in the Americas, transplanted their familiar foods, particularly wheat bread, which was the foundation of the Mediterranean diet and the only grain accepted by the Catholic Church for the Holy Eucharist. Royal officials attempted to segregate Hispanic and native societies throughout the colonial period (1521821), but widespread race mixing occurred nevertheless. Ethnicity became a function more of culture than color, and eating corn or wheat, like speaking Spanish or Nahuatl, denoted a person's status. While the staple grains
In addition to class and ethnic divisions, Mexican cuisine contains tremendous regional variation. Perhaps the simplest classification consists of three complementary pairs: the mestizo foods of the central plateau and the indigenous center of Oaxaca in the south; foods of the frontiers of the Maya in the southeast and of Spanish settlement in the north; and the distinctive foods of the Gulf and Pacific coasts. Although Spanish influence tended to prevail in the north while the Indians better retained their culture farther south, no simple formula can capture the disparate topographies, climates, and settlement patterns that combined to produce these rich regional cuisines.
This diversity notwithstanding, a number of characteristics, common throughout Mexico, compose an identifiable national cuisine. As the original site of the chili pepper's domestication, Mexico has both the greatest botanical wealth of chilies, with some ninety different varieties, and the highest per capita consumption, since virtually no Mexican considers a meal complete without some kind of peppers. The structure of the meal, with a succession of individual courses, unifies the Mexican dinner table and distinguishes it from the combination plates found in restaurants north of the Rio Grande, which jumble together the riceroperly eaten before the main courseith the beans that should follow. A common calendar also exists, combining religious feasts such as Christmas and Easter, secular holidays like Independence Day, and community and family celebrations of saints' days and weddings, each with their own traditional foods. The Mexican diet has been changing recently as a result of globalization and the spread of both junk food and haute cuisine, but these influences represent merely the latest in a long series of culinary encounters.
José Vasconcelos helped define the Mexican national identity in La raza cósmica (The Cosmic Race, published in 1927), which rejected Social Darwinist views about the problems of race mixture and instead proclaimed mestizos to be the highest form of human evolution. This new nationalist ideology, called indigenismo, brought about the revalorization of Mexico's native heritage, including the indigenous cuisine based on corn. But embracing the pre-Hispanic past did not imply a rejection of Spanish contributions to Mexico's development, especially wheat bread and European livestock. Many other ethnic groups also contributed to Mexico's "fusion" cuisine, from African slaves and clandestine Jews in the colonial period, to European and Chinese immigrants in the nineteenth century and Lebanese and North Americans in the twentieth century.
One of the most fundamental cultural clashes between Native Americans and Spaniards in the colonial period revolved around the staple grains, corn and wheat. Maize not only provided the nutritional basis of pre-Hispanic civilizations, accounting for as much as 80 percent of the caloric intake of common people, it also served as the basis for religion and identity. Spanish missionaries therefore sought to substitute the European wheat as part of their work of extirpating the idolatry associated with indigenous corn gods, but their evangelical mission was undermined by economics as well as taste. Corn made an ideal subsistence crop, growing well in all manner of ecological niches from the tropical forests of Yucatán to the mountains of the central plateau. Wheat, by contrast, was here a fragile plant, susceptible to disease, requiring lavish irrigation, and offering comparatively low yields even under the most favorable circumstances. As a result, corn remained the staple crop of the rural masses in both native and mestizo communities, while wheat was grown as a market crop for wealthy Hispanic city dwellers. The price differential between wheat bread and corn tortillas persists to the present day, as do many of the stereotypes formed during the colonial period. Affluent Mexicans invariably keep wheat bread on the table, even when serving dishes such as mole, which is more properly eaten with corn tortillas.
The greatest European influence on Mexican cuisine came from the introduction of livestock. Before the Spanish arrived, the native inhabitants consumed a basically vegetarian diet incorporating only two domesticated animals, turkeys and dogs. The deaths of millions of Native Americans due to Old World diseases such as smallpox and measles, against which they had no natural immunities, opened up large amounts of formerly cultivated land for grazing. With no competitors, the cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs, and chickens brought by the Spanish reproduced at a fantastic rate, although their numbers soon declined through overgrazing. During the colonial period, the elite retained the Spanish preference for mutton, and only the poor consumed beef. Over the course of the nineteenth century, with the adoption of French fashions, the consumption of beef surpassed that of mutton. Mexicans also developed an elaborate art of tocinería (sausage and other pork products), and pork fat became the invariable cooking medium, despite European preferences for olive oil and butter. Culinary blending occurred through the incorporation of chili peppers into Spanish dishes such as chorizos (sausages) and adobos (marinades). Although Native Americans initially rejected the taste of lard, they eventually learned to add it to tamales and beans, improving their taste and texture.
The complexity of culinary blending can best be seen in the debate over the origins of the national dish, mole poblano, an elaborate festival food of turkey served in a deep brown sauce of chili peppers, diverse spices, and a small amount of chocolate. Anthropologist Margaret Park Redfield, who studied the foods of a native community near Mexico City in the 1920s, at the height of the indigenista movement, described mole as an essentially pre-Hispanic legacy of chili cookery. Fifty years later, disillusioned by the Mexican government's refusal to respect indigenous rights, anthropologist Judith Friedlander examined a neighboring village and reached the opposite conclusion: that mole, with its numerous Asian spices, had been imposed by Spanish missionaries. A third interpretation, based on popular legend rather than scholarly analysis, attributed the complexity of mole poblano to the Baroque artistry of the city of Puebla, where colonial nuns supposedly combined Old World spices with New World chilies to symbolize the mestizo "cosmic race." The lack of pre-Hispanic and colonial culinary literature makes it impossible to resolve the question definitively, but all three versions probably contain an element of truth.
Successive waves of immigrants, despite their relatively small numbers, have added significantly to the culinary blending of Spanish and Native American. Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition came to the colonies, particularly
More recent immigrants have also left their mark on Mexican cooking, although none more so than the fast-food invasion from the United States. Large numbers of Chinese settled in northwestern Mexico in the late nineteenth century after the United States passed exclusion laws forbidding them entry. Then in the 1920s Lebanese immigrants began arriving, particularly in Puebla and Yucatán, and the gyro became the inspiration for tacos al pastor (shepherd's tacos). By the 1940s industrial processed foods from the United States had acquired enormous popularity among the rising middle class. Aunt Jemima pancakes became a favorite breakfast food, while Coke and Pepsi battled for the soft drink market. Moreover, these imports had to compete with domestic products such as Pan Bimbo, a Mexican clone of Wonder Bread. The spread of junk foods to even the most remote indigenous communities by the 1970s further complicated Mexico's diverse gastronomic geography.
Of the many culinary regions in Mexico, none exhibit the mestizo blending to a greater extent than the central highlands. The city of Puebla, legendary home of mole poblano, illustrates Iberian cooking techniques used on native ingredients through the production of camotes (can-died sweet potatoes). Toluca is known for superb chorizo sausages combining pork with chili peppers. In the state of Hidalgo, shepherds pit-barbecue lamb wrapped in the leaves of the maguey to make a local specialty called mixiotes. Nahua Indians in the states of Mexico and Morelos cook nopales (cactus paddles), squash blossoms, and cuitlacoche (corn fungus) in quesadillas (corn pastries fried in pork fat). All of these different foods, and indeed the culinary traditions of the entire country, can be found in cosmopolitan Mexico City, with its countless markets, restaurants, and street vendors.
Oaxacan cuisine. In contrast to this cultural blending, indigenous communities such as the Zapotecs and Mixtecs in the southern state of Oaxaca have preserved their traditional foods. Unlike the complex blend of spices in mole poblano, the Oaxacan mole verde (green mole) derives its pristine taste from a few simple chilies and herbs, most notably the anise-flavored hoja santa. Oaxacan cooks wrap tamales in banana leaves instead of the corn husks common farther north, and they have raised tortilla making to a high art with the large, soft blanditas and tlayudas as well as the crisp totopos. The tiny grasshoppers known as chapulines, another local specialty, are flavored with smoky chipotle chilies and eaten in tacos with guacamole.
The Gulf Coast. Cooks along the Gulf Coast prepare seafood in both Mediterranean and pre-Hispanic styles. The snapper Veracruz (huachinango a la veracruzana) served in the eponymous port city contains olives, olive oil, tomato, capers, and only the mildest green peppers. Farther up the coast, at Tampico, one can sample the fiery hot crab soup called chilpachole. In the northeastern tropical forest of the Huasteca, ethnic groups such as the Totonacs make more than forty different types of tamales, including the legendary meter-long zacahuil, which can feed an entire village. Other seafood special-ties of the region include baked pompano, robalo al mojo de ajo (snook cooked in garlic), and various seafood soups, cocktails, and escabeches (pickled seafood).
The Pacific Coast. The most typical food of Pacific Coast states is not from the sea at all, but rather pozole, a hominy stew made with pork. This dish comes in a number of different varieties, red in Guadalajara, green and white to the south in Guerrero, and with tripe in the northern state of Sonora. A common street food, eaten late at night, pozole is served with chili powder, oregano, chopped onion, sliced radishes, shredded lettuce, and limes for squeezing. In port cities such as Acapulco, the citric acid of lime juice is used to "cook" fresh seafood into ceviche. The Purépecha Indians of Michoacán prepare a variety of distinctive tamales, most notably the triangular corundas and fresh-corn uchepos.
Yucatán. Mexico's southeastern frontier, the Yucatán peninsula, is home to the ancient Maya civilization, whose pre-Hispanic traditions can still be found in dishes such as papadzules, the "food of the lords." These enchiladas, made entirely of native ingredients, require the freshest possible tortillas, to avoid the need for frying with pork fat. They are stuffed with chopped hard-boiled eggs in place of cheese, then covered in two sauces: a green pipían made of pumpkin seeds and a tomato sauce lightly flavored with habanero chilies. Yet the Maya have also adapted to the latest trends of globalization with the queso relleno, a large Dutch cheese, imported duty-free at the port of Chetumal, and stuffed with picadillo (chopped meat filling).
Northern cuisine. The Mexican foods best known in the United States, wheat flour tortillas and beef fajitas,
Daily Bread and Tortillas
The foods eaten daily by rich and poor Mexicans differ significantly, but there is nevertheless a common structure to their meals. Work in the fields governs the eating habits of campesinos (rural laborers), who generally take two meals, a small breakfast before men set off in the morning, and a more substantial dinner when they return in the evening. To have fresh tortillas ready for breakfast, women traditionally had to awaken several hours earlier to grind corn on a basalt metate (concave grindstone) and pat it out by hand into thin disks. Because tortillas grew hard and stale after a few hours, they had to be cooked on a comal (earthenware griddle) before each meal; the nixtamal (dough) likewise kept poorly, so the laborious grinding had to be repeated each day. One of the most significant social changes in Mexican history came in the first half of the twentieth century with the spread of mechanical mills capable of grinding the moist nixtamal. Freed from this onerous daily burden, women had the time to engage in commerce and craft production and thus begin to challenge the male domination of society.
In contrast to the austerity of the working class, wealthy Mexicans traditionally ate large amounts of food. The day began with desayuno, a simple breakfast consisting of a bread roll and coffee or hot chocolate, followed in midmorning by a substantial brunch, almuerzo, consisting of perhaps mole poblano or an omelette. The main meal, comida, began about two o'clock in the afternoon and progressed through an invariable sequence of four courses: a wet soup such as chicken broth, a dry soup of either rice or spaghetti, a main plate of roasted or stewed meat, and then beans. The elite accompanied their meals with imported wine, while members of the middle class drank the native pulque in the nineteenth century, and more recently beer. After awakening from an afternoon siesta, Mexicans took a merienda or snack of sweets, then returned to work for several hours. The cena or supper was taken quite late at night, often in cafés, with street foods such as enchiladas or tacos.
Class and ethnic distinctions were manifested less in the foods themselves than in their place within the daily routine. Native Americans in Oaxaca and elsewhere introduced European foods at the periphery, for example, by eating wheat bread for breakfast, while retaining the
Celebrating Saints and Feeding the Dead
The festival foods of Mexico are as extravagant as the campesino diet is meager. Pre-Hispanic calendars contained numerous feasts dedicated to indigenous deities, which were replaced by Catholic holy days after the Spanish arrived. Each native community adopted a patron saint, and the inhabitants dedicated their meager savings to celebrating the saint's day with lavish abandon. Women worked for days with little rest to feed the entire community with dishes such as mole, tamales, and chocolate. These same elaborate foods were also prepared for family ceremonies including weddings, christenings, and funerals. The wealthy Hispanic society also feasted on such occasions, although their foods tended to feature more imported goods from Europe. In recent years, traditional festival foods have even replaced French cuisine in the most fashionable restaurants.
The primary feasts of the Christian calendarhristmas, Easter, and All Saints' Dayre celebrated throughout Mexico. The traditional Hispanic Christmas Eve feast includes an elaborate salad of lettuce, fruit, nuts, and beets, followed by bacalao a la vizcaína (Biscay-style cod), made with tomato, olive oil, olives, and capers, and served with wheat bread and wine. Indigenous and mestizo families celebrate the Nativity with tamales and mole instead of imported luxuries. Good Friday features fish, lentils, romeritos (dried shrimp fritters with greens) and capirotada (bread pudding). All Saints' Day is stretched out over three evenings, from 31 October to 2 November, known as the Days of the Dead. Families decorate the tombs of deceased relatives and construct altars incorporating salt, water, candy skulls, and pan de muerto (bread of the dead), decorated with strips of dough resembling human bones.
The most important civic holiday, Independence Day, celebrated on the eve of 16 September has no definite culinary traditions. There are many tricolor dishes, most notably chiles en nogada, stuffed green chilies with white walnut sauce and red pomegranate seeds. Nevertheless, the essence of the holiday is the grito or cry of independence repeated by public officials in plazas throughout the country, which lends itself not to elaborate cookery but to simple street foods: tacos, fritters, beer, and tequila.
Traditional festival foods have provided the basis for the latest trend, la nueva cocina mexicana, which combines Native American ingredients with the techniques of international haute cuisine. This "new Mexican cuisine" actually began in the 1950s, with dishes such as corn fungus cuitlacoche served in crêpes with bechamel sauce, invented by Jaime Saldívar to make a lower-class indigenous food acceptable for elite tables. By the 1990s hybrid dishes like huauhzontle pesto, pistachio mole, and cuitlacoche mousse had become ubiquitous on menus, and no fashionable Mexico City restaurant could avoid offering some version of the rose petal sauce invented by Laura Esquivel for her best-selling novel, Like Water for Chocolate. Many of these restaurants were owned by women, who thereby rejected the male dominance of Mexico's traditional society. Meanwhile, in the town of Tequila (Jalisco), firms such as Sauza and José Cuervo had improved their distilling technology to a level equal with that of the finest Scotch whisky and French cognac.
The nueva cocina represents simply another example of Mexico's ongoing gastronomic blending. Ever since the Spanish Conquest, cooks have combined native and European ingredients and techniques to create a sophisticated and original cuisine. It was only after the revolution of 1910 that Mexicans embraced their mestizo heritage, including the indigenous foods made of corn. The acceptance of diverse regional culinary dialects came, moreover, just as many rural cooking traditions began to be lost because of migration to urban areas and the arrival of mass-produced foods from the United States. Despite the spread of soft drinks and snack crackers, the elaborate tamales and moles prepared to celebrate festivals remain a vital source of identity within families, communities, and the Mexican nation.
See also American Indians: Prehistoric Indians and Historical Overview; Chili Peppers; Day of the Dead; Iberian Peninsula; Inca Empire; Maize; Mexico and Central America, Pre-Columbian; United States, subentries on Ethnic Cuisines and Southwest.
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Esquivel, Laura. Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments, with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. Translated by Carol Christensen and Thomas Christensen. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
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Long-Solís, Janet. Capsicum y cultura: La historia del chilli. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1986.
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Ochoa, Enrique C. Feeding Mexico: The Political Uses of Food since 1910. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 2000.
Pilcher, Jeffrey M. ¡Que vivan los tamales! Food and the Making of Mexican Identity. Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 1998.
Redfield, Margaret Park. "Notes on the Cookery of Tepoztlan, Morelos." American Journal of Folklore 42, no. 164 (Aprilune 1929): 16796.
Sandstrom, Alan R. Corn Is Our Blood: Culture and Ethnic Identity in a Contemporary Aztec Indian Village. Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.
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Jeffrey M. Pilcher
Mexico (International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis)
During the XX International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) Congress in Paris in 1957, the Asociación psicoanalítica mexicana (APM; Mexican Psychoanalytic Association) became the first official Mexican affiliate of the IPA. Since that time, the Mexican Psychoanalytic Association has played a substantial role in the IPA: three IPA vice presidents have been from the Mexican Psychoanalytic Association, as have several members serving on nominating committees and on sponsoring committees within the IPA. The Mexican association has also had three members serve as president of the Federación psicoanalítica de América latina (FePAL; Psychoanalytic Federation of Latin America).
In the past, inadequate local training conditions in Mexico had sent many psychiatrists to Argentina, and also to the United States and France, countries that benefited when analysts fleeing from the Nazis enriched existing psychoanalytic training programs. The return of these now-trained analysts to Mexico produced transitory tensions with psychiatrists who had remained in Mexico. Their circumstantial encounter with Erich Fromm, who had come to Mexico only for his wife's health, diminished tension, as he helped to fulfill their needs for training, founding the Mexican Institute of Psychoanalysis.
The founding group of the Mexican Psychoanalytic Association included Santiago Ramirez, Ramón Parres, José Remus, Avelino González, José Luis González, and Rafael Barajas all of whom were training analysts. Victor Aíza, Fernando Cesarman, Luis Féder, Estela Galván Remus, and Francisco González Pineda were initially included as candidates, were later incorporated into the founding group of members. Carlos Corona and Alfredo Namnun eventually joined the Association. Santiago Ramirez and Parres pioneered psychoanalytical training in México City; Rafael Barajas in Monterrey. Successive generations and study groups included other important researchers in theoretical and applied fields.
Initially all doors and roads seemed closed. Though the Hospital General was blocked as a project for psychiatric training, eventually the Hospital Central Militar, Hospital Infantil, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Psychology faculty, and the Instituto Nacional de Pediatria, among others, opened their institutions to psychoanalytic training. After one year, the Mexican Psychoanalytic Association's influence spread to other medical and psychological spheres and to all disciplines, covering most socioeconomic and cultural levels within Mexico. The flow of patients with careers in the arts and sciences was remarkable. Mexican authors produced close to 3,000 articles in the Mexican Psychoanalytic Association's Cuadernos de Psicoanalisis (begun in 1965), in books, and in other national and international psychoanalytical journals.
The unexpectedly high demand for treatment oversaturated the available capacity, spawning large populations of self-appointed psychoanalysts and psychotherapists. From 37 groups studied that called themselves psychoanalytic, few had earned the name, a consequence of the continuing lack of international, regional or even national regulation of psychoanalysis as a career and title.
An anti-establishment psychoanalytic left "Plataforma" emerged during the turbulent mid-1960s. The Viennese-Argentine Marie Langer led a fight from Mexico, which spread throughout Latin America, against "ultra-rightist" Institutes. But the Plataforma soon disappeared. Some present Lacanian psychoanalysts are former plataforma members.
"L'Asociacion Regiomontana de Psicoanalisis", (ARPAC), is another psychoanalytic society, equivalent to the Mexican Psychoanalytic Association. It was founded in 1979 to serve the northern part of the country by a group of Monterrey Mexican Psychoanalytic Association members, including Diego Rodriguez, Roger Garcia, Alfonso Moreno Robles, Ruben Hinojosa and Ruben Tames. The founding members were later joined by Ricardo Diaz Conti, Cesar Garza and Hernan Solis. In 1993, the IPA recognized ARPAC as an independent affiliate.
As of 2005, the Association had 130 members and 22 candidates. Mexico City also suffers a consumer's crisis; patients who once averaged 3 to 4 visits a week only average 2 sessions as of the early 2000s. Peripheral groups are developing including Jungians, local and foreign Lacanians. The Mexican Psychoanalytic Association began to provide distance education and new projects for fellowships for each state were being considered. Josefina Mendoza was president of the Mexican Psychoanalytic Association in 2005. The Institute of the Asociación Psicoanalitica Mexicana has had over 20 graduating classes. Its post-graduate programs include training analysis and child psychoanalysis. Its post-graduate center also trains psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapists. The Mexican Psychoanalytic Association has a full extension program and participates in applied psychoanalytic activities along with study groups, research, publishing, and two yearly congresses (one open, one closed).
The Association inspired and developed groups all over the country. Some of the groups in Mexico City include AMPAGnalytic Group Therapy Association (founded by L. Feder, J. L. Gonzalez, G. Quevedo, F. Zmudt. Graduates: first generation, A. Palacios, H. Prado); IMPPA (Armando Barriguete); and Asociacion Mexicana de Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, founded by Santiago Ramirez, Dolores Sandoval, and others. In Guadalajara, there are two groups: GGPP (Varela and Gramajo) and APJ (Torres and Manuel Fernandez V.). There are nearly 10 other groups in other parts of Mexico. There are individuals practicing in Yucatan, Chiapas, Guadalajara, Cuernavaca, Aguascalientes, and Vera Cruz. Specialized psychoanalytic institutions and hospital services include IFAC (Family Therapy Institute), which provides family therapy, merging psychoanalytical and Frommian orientations; CPPO, bringing distinguished lecturers; and IMANTI, which provides special education.
Some of the contributions to psychoanalytical thought include the following: psychology of the Mexican (Santiago Ramirez); aggression and destructivity of the Mexican (González Pineda); studies on transference-countertransference (José Remus, Luis Féder); mammoth group psychotherapy (José Luis González); separation anxiety (Avelino González); child analysis (Victor Aiza, M. I. López; M. Salles, child psychiatry); ecocide and non-human objects relations (Fernando Cesarman); and the "unwanted child" developed into preconceptology theory and psychogenoma project (L. Féder team of J. Islas, R. Balderas, S. Weinstein). Significant training contributions have been made by Eduardo Dallal, M. A. Dupont, Jaime Ayala and José Camacho. Recent awards suggest that Mexico's creative and pioneering fervor continues into the twenty-first century.
Féder, Luis and Marco A. Dupont. (1987). Aspectos de la siembra y cosecha psicoanalítica mexicana, Correio da Fe.P.A.L., 97.
Parres Ramón and Santiago Ramírez. (1966). Historia del movimiento psicoanalítico en México. In Fr. Alexander, S. Eisenstein, and M. Grotjahn (Eds.), Psychoanalytic Pioneers. New York and London: Basic Books.