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Political and Economic Reforms in Mexico

An intriguing political system presides over much of national life in Mexico. It has helped to create both triumphs and difficulties (some would say disasters), the effects of which reach deeply into the lives of most Mexicans. As a political adviser to President Ernesto Zedillo, Federico Estevez is well acquainted with the workings of that political system. He works with Zedillo's advisory staff during a time when struggles have arisen inside the dominant political party (PRI) over whether policies for the selection of candidates, the administration of elections, and the use of presidential power will be drastically changed. These struggles are related in important ways to the far-reaching economic reforms of the last six years which, in turn, are related to the emergence of NAFTA in which Mexico is a partner with the United States and Canada. Many believe that the ongoing rebellion in southern Mexico, the free-fall of the peso, and large street demonstrations are part of the fallout from the ways in which the political system has handled deep economic reforms.

Federico Estevez is a political scientist trained at Stanford and UCLA. Since 1983, he has been professor of social sciences at ITAM, the Instituto Technologico Autonomo de Mexico in Mexico City. Before that he taught at the University of the Americas in Puebla and held advisory positions in the ministries of finance and of programming and budget. His principal research affiliation has been with the Center for Economic Analysis and Research in Mexico City, and he publishes regularly on Mexican politics and other domestic issues in the Center's Monthly Report on the Mexican Economy and in other Mexican journals. He recently completed a year as visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., where he worked on issues related to the politics of NAFTA.

This visit to the Athenaeum by Professor Estevez is sponsored by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies.