34 Chapters
Medium 9781457109614

17 Our Laws and Our Legislators

Fernando Armstrong-Fumero University Press of Colorado ePub

In the previous chapter, we discussed one of the propositions that the Mexican delegation presented before the Second Pan-American Scientific Congress that took place in Washington, D.C., which was the convenience of revising and reforming the constitutions and laws of Latin American countries. In this chapter, we will refer to the qualities required of our legislators, so that they may conscientiously develop their lofty task.

With very few exceptions, the legislative bodies of Mexico have been composed of individuals who represent the inhabitants of their respective political entities in a theoretical or nominal manner. Mexico City and the other political centers of the federation were the fertile wombs from which the highest percentage of political representatives sprang. Many regions of the country were never represented by individuals born in them or who were even familiar with the living conditions there. This naturally contributed to the political preeminence of some regions and the marginalization of others. Because of this, we say that representation was theoretical at best.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781457109614

1 Forjando Patria

Fernando Armstrong-Fumero University Press of Colorado ePub

In the great forge of America, on the anvil of the Andes, the bronze and iron of virile races have been alloyed for centuries and centuries.

When the task of mixing and blending peoples came to the brown arms of Atahualpa and Moctezuma, a miraculous tie was consummated. The same blood swelled the veins of the Americans, and their intellectuality flowed through the same paths. There were small patrias: the Aztec, the Maya-Kiché, the Inca . . . that would later perhaps have grouped together and melded into great indigenous patrias, as the patrias of China and Japan were in the same age. But it could not be thus. When other men, another blood, other ideas arrived with Columbus, the crucible that unified the race was tragically overturned and the mold in which the Nationality was created and the Patria crystallized fell to pieces.

During the colonial centuries, the first forges of noble nationalist impulses also burned, only the Pizarros and Ávilas just intended to build incomplete patrias, since they valued only the steel of the Latin race, leaving the crude indigenous bronze on the slag heap.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781457109614

4 The Redemption of the Indigenous Class

Fernando Armstrong-Fumero University Press of Colorado ePub

Nine years ago, the author of this book attempted to publish articles in several Mexico City newspapers to criticize the “personal contributions” or “derechos de capitación” that survived in many states of the republic as a bitter relic of long-gone encomiendas. All of the newspapers refused to comment on the issue. The author was nevertheless able to publish the following lines in the magazine Modern Mexico, which was published in New York and circulated in Mexico.

“When I admire the great works of the Japanese people, their precocity, and inexhaustible energy, I must naturally contemplate the painful miseries that afflict our poor indigenous class.

“Viewing the ethnico-social characteristics of the Indian, one finds very important factors that could lead to his decisive and transcendent regeneration.

“One is surprised by the Indians’ vitality as much as by their vigorous physical nature. Their physiology is intriguing, since we find very few countries in which the human body is so productive in spite of a lack of nutrition. Also, the Indian has intellectual qualities comparable to those of any race.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781457109614

16 Revision of the Latin American Constitutions

Fernando Armstrong-Fumero University Press of Colorado ePub

We have noted how the legislative bodies of the future should pay greater attention to the anthropological study of the populations that they govern. In this way, the constitution and general laws of the country can provide the most efficient and authoritative means with which to meet the needs and seek the well-being of the population. This should be the only objective of any constitution. It was also noted that individuals of Indian race, or those in whom that blood predominates, constitute the great majority of the national population. The rest of the population is made up of individuals of European blood, or those who have this in a greater proportion to indigenous blood. Up until now, the constitutions and legislations of independent Mexico had been derived exclusively from the needs of this latter group and have tended to promote its betterment. The Indian population was left in a greater state of abandon by these laws than it had been under the famous Laws of the Indies created by the Spanish monarchy. These colonial laws constituted a powerful barrier against the exploitation of the Indians and forbade the enslavement of the Indian. Even if they were not entirely free, at least the Indians were never slaves in the way that individuals of the black race were. Other colonial laws prohibited the Inquisition from rending the Indians with its claws, as it did the whites. The legal protection of collective landholdings permitted the Indians to cultivate their lands patriarchally and to preserve many aspects of their pre-Hispanic system of land distribution.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781457109614

28 Our National Industry

Fernando Armstrong-Fumero University Press of Colorado ePub

Whether or not we choose to emulate Leroy-Beaulieu,1 we can examine data on imports and exports in our country and see that our industry is very deficient. We have inexhaustible reserves of the metals that give life to modern industry: iron, copper, lead, antimony. There is an abundance of fuel: wood, charcoal, coal, petroleum, gaseous hydrocarbons. Materials for construction abound: marble, multicolored marble, onyx, polychrome limestones. So do precious materials like gold and silver. We also possess earth for ceramics and glass: red and white clay and silicates, precious stones (pearls, turquoise, emeralds, and opals). Our numerous fibers include henequen, pita, and palm. We have superior meat and skins from wild and domestic animals, rubber and elastics. In short, we have all those things that could make our country one of the foremost industrial producers of the world.

If raw materials are abundant, manual labor competent, and fuel plentiful, what is the cause for the stagnation of our industry? Setting aside the difficulty of transportation and the deficiency of our international mercantile relations, we will focus on factors of even greater transcendence. The fundamental error that limits our industrial potential consists of having inverted the character of industrial production. Rather than promoting national industries and gradually implanting foreign ones, the former were disdained and special attention was given to the latter. As a result, national industry was weakened to the point of becoming deficient. For the sake of developing a foreign industry, our typical forms of production have been unable to extend and develop themselves. Foreign industry cannot be produced or consumed adequately in our country, given the scarcity of workers who have acquired sufficient experience in foreign centers of industry and the exotic nature of its products. We will consider a more sensible relationship between these two industries in the lines that follow.

See All Chapters

See All Chapters