Mexico and the Nation-State

From September 16, 1821, after winning its independence from Spain, Mexico became a nation state. For models, it had France and the United States. The most meaningful revolution to Mexico was of course that of its neighbour, the United States, because they had overthrown their Colonial yoke from Britain. Mexicans had felt oppressed bySpain for the last three hundred years. The Mexican Revolutionaries did notforesee the difficulties they would have in adopting a National identity.

Throughout its history, Mexico has shared a more than 2,000 mile-long border with its northern neighbour, the United States of America. In 1846, these two nations went to war over the possession of Texas. Two years later, this war ended with Mexico signing over more than half of its territory. Since then, relations across our border with the U.S. have been strained.

Lately, the U.S. has built a concrete wall along the border with their side manned by armed guards, the purpose of which is to stop Mexicans and other Latinos from illegally invading it. This wall separates two states, two cultures and two flags.

In the last thirty years, the number of U.S. residents with Mexican ancestors more than tripled, from 4.5 to 17 million. Many of these have been undocumented and therefore stateless, forging their own identity in the transnational gap between countries.

While they did this, Mexico City and Washington have both given up trying to regulate what businesses cross the border, opting instead to leave it to the market forces, in this case the market forces of NAFTA, or The North American Free Trade Agreement. Apart from this, there is the private trade in the borderlands, which neither government has felt able to regulate. Commercial activity in drugs, weapons, and most recently, human flesh (prostitution) which appears to be just as lucrative as drugs but remains unmentionable have caused U.S. Secretary of State HillaryClinton to state the following: “Our insatiable demand for drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent the weapons from being smuggled across the border to arm these criminals leads to the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians in Mexico.”

As our past seems to have bound us inextricably to the United States, our future may bind us to them as well.

Written by Alex Gómez for Caras de Mexico. Click here to read more articles examining Mexican identity.