The borderline economy

Material Information

The borderline economy dependent underdevelopment in seven municipalities in northeast Sonora
Becker, John Albert
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
iv, 115 leaves : ; 29 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( Master of Arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Political Science, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Political science


Subjects / Keywords:
1970 - 1994 ( fast )
Economic history ( fast )
Economic policy ( fast )
Economic conditions -- Sonora (Mexico : State) ( lcsh )
Economic policy -- Mexico -- 1970-1994 ( lcsh )
Mexico ( fast )
Mexico -- Sonora (State) ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 109-115).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, Department of Political Science.
Statement of Responsibility:
by John Albert Baker.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
22959083 ( OCLC )
LD1190.L64 1990m .B42 ( lcc )

Full Text
John Albert Becker
B.A., -"'stern State College of Colorado, 1985
t thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Department of Political Science

This thesis for the Master of Arts decree by-
John Albert Becker
has been approved for the
Department of Political Science
Steve Thomas

Becker, John. Albert (M.A., Political Science)
The Borderline Economy: Dependent Underdevelopment in
Seven Municipalities in Northeast Sonora
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Joel Edelstein
Throughout Mexico, external class alliances and
extensive U.S. industrial investment determine internal
class position, and, therefore, these alliances and their
policies are integral contributors to quality-of-1 ife
issues affecting many of the inhabitants around the
frontier region of Mexico.
The local landholders in northern Sonora state ally
with transnational capital with the support of the
Mexican government to serve their common goal of managed
economic activity. Problems arise because this economic
activity is subject to the. requirements of
"disarticulated accumulation" and "functional dualism."
Accumulation in Mexico is disarticulated in that the
level of economic activity is dependent on external
rather than domestic demand. Commercial farms can
realize high profits and significant accumulation in the
short-term resulting from the sub-subsistence wage paid
to workers.
A dual system of accumulation exists with subsistence
peasant producers and commercial for-profit agriculture

competing for resources, a process that leads to the
destruction of the peasantry.
Foods grown at home supplement the.sub-subsistence wage
and are the basis for high short-term profit for
business. Without this supplement, labor costs for
business interests would increase, threatening the
competitiveness of Mexican exports. The principle
manifestations of.this contradiction are demographic
explosion, ecological collapse, increasing landlessness
under competition for land with capitalist agriculture,
and urban (or international) migration. This trend has
serious negative implications for the interests of
business and government over the long-term.
This thesis analyzes social, and economic data and field
interviews conducted in seven municipalities of Northeast
Sonora to test the applicability of the "disarticulated
accumulation" and "functional dualism" model. This
thesis finds that, although some countervailing trends
exist, the model is useful.

1. INTRODUCTION................................... 1
2. DEPENDENT UNDERDEVELOPMENT.....................13
3. FUNCTIONAL DUALISM.............................34
4. DISARTICULATED ACCUMULATION....................55
5. A CRISIS OF LEGITIMACY.........................65
6. THE COMPOSITION OF THE STATE...................80
7. CONCLUSIONS.......'...........................92
STATISTICAL APPENDIX.................................103
ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY...............................109

The dynamic pace of events along the United States
2000-mile border with Mexico has brought to the attention
of many observers just how volatile the Mexican-United
States crisis really is. Nowhere in the world is an
"underdeveloping" country such as Mexico so closely
situated to an advanced economy like the United States.
The length of these countries shared frontier only adds
to the systemic contradictions that prevail in the
economies of the region. The length of this frontier
poses a difficult problem for those who would like to
control the events taking place. The length of this
border also poses problems of research for observers.
The problem in this region consists of a crisis of
accumulation on the part of the Mexican people. Unable
to provide food for his family through traditional
farming, or secure steady work that would provide
sufficient shelter and health care, the rural Mexican
peasant is forced to try to combine seasonal or sporadic
work with a subsistence plot of food for his family. As
we shall see, the contradictions inherent in this sort of
combination as seen in the northeast portion of the

Mexican state of Sonora are undermining the very dynamics
that make this economic system function. In the event of
a crisis, a breakdown will have very real repercussions
for the Mexican society, as well as international
In undertaking the following research project, I have
chosen to limit the geographical scope to a small niche:
seven municipalities (counties) in the northeast corner
of the Mexican state of Sonora, directly south of
southeast Arizona. The scope and purpose of this
research project are to observe the socio-economic
dynamics of these seven small municipalities in detail.
This research will fit as an element of the vast school
of developmental theory, which seeks to illuminate Third-
World economic systems.
The methodology of this project consists of three
elements: First, an effort was undertaken to glean the
knowledge of modern development theory. This effort was
focused on Latin-American development theorists, with a
large component of general political theory included, to
gain a comprehensive overview of the most up-to-date
analysis of the crisis-prone nature of Third-World
economic systems. Second, current economic statistics of
the northeast Sonoran state were analyzed to find
predicted and countervailing trends as they apply to the

development model to be proposed in this work. Third, a
concerted effort was undertaken to interview a diversity
of actors in and around the region, with a similar
purpose to identify trends that might or might not fit a
model of "disarticulated accumulation" subject to the
constraints of "functional dualism."
Accumulation of profit is occurring in Mexico, but this
accumulation is not benefitting the producers. The
accumulation is distributed among large landholders,
multinational companies, and Mexican governmental
ministries. This accumulation is disarticulated in that
inadequate return to the producing peasants has two
unintended results: 1) the peasants provide an
increasingly inadequate market for the owners goods, and
2) the peasants very survival as needed workers is
increasingly in doubt. The inability of the peasantry to
provide an adequate local market for producers goods
represents the severed link between demand and output.
The level of economic activity is dependent on external
rather than domestic demand. Decreased local demand does
not result in decreased output, as should occur in
articulated economies, such as the United States. The
Mexican Government, and business interests combine
efforts to achieve their goal of managed economic
activity by propping up demand. In turn, wages become a

cost of production but do not serve as a significant
source of demand. Business interests are then able to
set any low level of wages, given steady international
demand for its produce and given a surplus of labor. The
elites then benefit from accumulation, while the peasants
dont, thus a disarticulated accumulation. Business
interests create crisis when the low wage level will not
cover the subsistence needs of the worker.
Disarticulated accumulation combines with a functional
dualism in the Mexican periphery. A dual system of
accumulation exists between the peasant and the
commercial sectors of Latin American agriculture. The
peasant system utilizes family members and produces for
subsistence, while the commercial system utilizes wage
workers for profitable large-scale production, much of
which is exported. These two entities must fiercely
compete for wages and product sales among peasants. The
peasants in turn, must engage in an intense search for
productive resources (i.e., land and labor power) in
order to increase the productivity of labor.
This dualism is functional in that the Mexican
government, large landholders, and multinational
corporations must constantly provide inputs in the form
of cheap foodstuffs in order to be globally competitive
while maintaining high profit for the domestic market.

Without cheap food for the peasant, the system becomes
crisis-prone. The Mexican agrarian crisis can be
described in terms of a:
stagnation of food production and sharply uneven
development of the forces of production and in terms
of "functional dualism" between capitalist and
peasant agriculture. Functional dualism is
characterized both as a source of primitive
accumulation through cheap semiproletarian labor and
cheap food and a contradictory process that leads to
the destruction of the peasantry. The principal
manifestations of this contradiction are the
demographic explosion, ecological collapse,
increasing landlessness under competition for land
with capitalist agriculture, and urban migration.1 *
Functional dualism between modern and traditional
sectors thus makes it possible to sustain a level of wage
below the cost of maintenance and reproduction of the
labor force, a cost that would determine the minimum wage
for a fully proletarianized labor force. Here, wage
covers only a part of the subsistence needs of the
workers and their families.
A system of commercial farming would necessitate full
proletarianization of the labor force. The wages paid
from the commercial farms to the workers would
necessarily have to be at a level to cover the
subsistence needs of the worker and his family in order
1 Alain DeJanvry, The Agrarian Question and Reformism in Latin
erica. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1981), p.4.
2 Ibid., p.36.

to insure maintenance and reproduction of the labor
force. In the periphery, by contrast, semi-
proletarianization permits the wages paid to be far below
the price of labor power.3 Semi-proletarian workers are
forced to supplement low wages with food grown on small
plots, just to maintain a subsistence existence.
The motives of the elites are to maintain, and keep
functional, such a dual system because, absent universal
large commercial farming in northeast Sonora, this is
presently the most profitable method of agricultural
production given that they now can pay sub-subsistence
wage levels.
The historical events in and around this region provide
a rich basis for analysis of many of the politico-
economic dynamics of the Mexican-American border areas.
In these seven municipalities (roughly analogous to
American counties), one can find evidences of stark
disparities in income, standards of living, municipal
infrastructure, and employment activities. The purpose
of this paper will be to explain, analyze and critique
relationships of legitimacy, economic domination,
political hegemony, and state authority as they apply to
this small sector of the Mexican economy. In many ways
3 Ibid., p.86.

these conclusions may not be generalizable in explaining
the complex structures of the Mexican economy as a whole.
The work will represent an important contribution to the
body of Mexican development theory, which taken as a
whole, facilitates understanding of the Mexican economy.
The scope of this work limits my research to this
restricted area.
The crisis is pushing the limits of the present
economic system. Capitalism as an economic system tends
to develop unevenly. The theory of monopoly capital as
proposed by Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy argues that there
is a:
tendency for the production capacity of consumer
goods to expand faster than the consumption capacity
of rising real wages. Monopoly capital implies a
tendency for a financial surplus to rise in the
monopoly sector: on the one hand, productivity
gains can be retained as extra profits instead of
transferred via falling prices, since firms now have
the capacity of controlling prices; on the other
hand, surplus value is redistributed among firms
from the competitive to the monopoly sector. Lack
of investment opportunities due to insufficient
expansion of effective demand and to the defense of
monopolistic positions implies that of this surplus
sits idle and drives down the rate of profit on the
global mass of social capital.4
This decreasing rate of profit forces capital to flow
where profits can be maintained or maximized, often to
undeveloped countries. But the rate of profit decreases
4 Ibid., pp.12-13.

as penetration of capital increases, creating an uneven
development favoring the investing country at the expense
of the host country.
As a direct result of the uneven nature of capitalist
development, combined with a limited scope of politically
feasible possibilities from the state in the way of
reforms, the conditions here are demonstrating how these
forces all combine to create new and more formidable
barriers to accumulation on the part of the actors of the
region: the state, multi-national business, local
bourgeoisie, and workers. The system in northeast Sonora
truly represents a borderline economy.
Why so little amidst so much? The economic model of
disarticulated accumulation and functional dualism helps
in understanding these economic contradictions. First
formulated by Alain DeJanvry in his seminal work, The
Agrarian Question and Reformism in Latin America, the
sophisticated analysis advanced the work of many who have
contributed to dependent-development analyses of Latin
America. In essence, DeJanvry seeks to explain just the
sort of disparities mentioned above between rich and
poor, country and city, class and class.
A Latin American country in the state of development
experienced by Mexico has, in essence, reached that state
of development as a result of its alliances with other

more developed and sophisticated economies (e.g., the
United States, Great Britain, etc.); one might call such
an economy a dependent one because its fortune depends on
the fortunes of the developed economy. Capital flows to
markets and resources that can increase profit and
decrease the tendency toward stagnation. As capital
leaves the developed economies and seeks investment in
peripheral economies, those economies become dependent on
the whims of that capital.
The focus of Chapter Two will be evidence of dependency
in the municipalities of northeast Sonora, and in the
state of Sonora in general. Alliances of the state,
multinational capital, and the local bourgeoisie are
advancing the sort of development that leads to
increasing dependency on the good fortune of external
forces for survival.
When one nations food production begins to stagnate
and the forces of production experience sharply uneven
development, then a functional dualism between capitalist
and peasant agriculture occurs. The specific internal
dynamics of functional dualism will be discussed in
detail in Chapter Three.
Any state operating under the constraints of functional
dualism might experience an accumulation on the part of
one class or region that does not "trickle down". But

contrary to the diffusion models of classical economics
that depend on growth for prosperity, the events in
northeast Sonora support a disarticulated accumulation
model. The link between return to capital and return to
labor in the accumulative process is not observed in
northeast Sonora; as owners get richer, workers wages are
not rising. Productivity of labor increases, but real
wages stagnate, or even decrease. In the United States,
however, wages are linked to labor productivity, leading
to a more articulated economy. Chapter Four will examine
the statistical evidence and social repercussions of the
phenomenon of economic disarticulation in detail.
Chapter Five will cover the crisis of legitimacy of the
dominant political party, the PRI. The PRI-led
government of Mexico has alienated its two largest
sources of support over the years as a result of both its
reform efforts and its more recent swing back to a mixed
market economy. The elites have been politically
alienated by the reform legislation advanced by
progressive interests, which the elites feel represent
fetters to accumulation. The poor have been economically
alienated by these same reforms, which they perceive as
inadequate and still serving the elites. The purported
revolutionary legacy of the Mexican state has eroded and
will continue to erode as its true alliances with

capital, both national and international, become obvious.
The exclusion of those groups that make up the historical
support base of the Institutionalized Revolutionary Party
(PRI) is lending itself to a weaker and weaker one-party
system. This chapter will provide evidence of the
weakening of this legitimacy, as well as the
opportunities for once-fringe parties and coalitions to
flourish in Sonoran politics. Evidence of class-
conscious activities away from the voting booth will be
examined. With these fundamental systemic operations
occurring in Northeast Sonora, one might assume that the
majority of people under the constraints of the will of a
minority might exercise their voting rights to remedy the
problem. We will seek to comprehend the forms of
expression, and the class-conscious activities undertaken
by the Mexican workers to exert power, be it through
normal voting behavior, or non-voting activities.
Closely related to this crisis of legitimacy in party
politics, is the crisis of the state itself. The state
as arbiter and protector of a capitalist structure is
weakening as a direct result of its attempts to appease
the many divergent interests of the elites, the peasants,
the workers, and the multinationals. Chapter Six will
attempt to flesh out the structural makeup of the state,
how it has evolved, and what contradictions have emerged

from its attempts to please everyone and function
economically at the same time.
Classical economic arguments that growth will solve all
problems neglect to analyze the origins of rural problems
in a broader political economy. Structuralists couch
their views in terms of land tenure and plot size alone.
Many argue that the existence of rural poverty in Latin
America is a cultural phenomenon endemic to Latinos. I
concur with DeJanvry that these analyses lack the
inclusion of the elements of politico-economics necessary
for systemic critique. Mexico is not developing, but
rather "underdeveloping", that is, contributing to the
development of states that make up the "center,"5 while
deepening its "peripheral" Third-World status, subject to
the constraints of functional dualism and disarticulated
accumulation. I will start my analysis of the agrarian
problem in northeast Sonora with the postulate that "the
problem is but a symptom of the nature of the class
structure in the periphery and of the particular process
of capital accumulation it undergoes."6
James Petras and Robert LaPorte Jr., Cultivating
Revolution: The U.S, and Agrarian Reform in Latin
America (New York: Random House, 1971), p.114.
DeJanvry, op. cit., p.7.

The seven municipalities (counties) that make up the
northeast corner of the Mexican state of Sonora share a
rich heritage of Mexican revolutionary culture, as well
as a legacy of elite conservatism. These counties have
developed to the present level of advancement as a direct
result of their close relation with American capital.
Historically, American capital has represented a driving
force of production, first in agriculture, then in the
extractive industries, and more recently in in-bond U.S.-
Mexico border manufacturing endeavors. This legacy of
involvement endures to this day in each of the mentioned
The municipality of Agua Prieta represents the largest,
most advanced, and most broadly developed of these seven
municipalities. The largest city in northeast Sonora has
over twenty-five functioning maquiladoras, or in-bond
border manufacturing plants, run by such American
concerns as Zenith. A large public employment sector
combines with urban commercial activities to make this

border town the most developed economic entity in the
area.7 8
The small municipality of Bacoachi survives on limited
cattle-ranching activities which support its tiny
infrastructure in the desert regions of the Sonora
sierra. Its unemployment level is impressively low,
probably as a result of its small population combined
with its strategic location as a way station for
narcotrafico, or drugrunning.
The small border community of Naco survives as a border
checkpoint just west of the larger border town of Agua
Prieta. The bulk of its population is employed in the
public-sector activities of assorted border checkpoint
Directly south of the border town of Naco is the large
copper mining town of Cananea. Home to the largest
copper mine in the world, Cananea also enjoys a rich
heritage of political action with a view to securing the
rights of the copper miners. The famous Cananea copper
strike of 1906 against the American conglomerate Anaconda
Copper Co. is considered a major impetus to the 1911
7 Estado de Sonora, X Censo General de Poblacion y
Vivienda. Vol. 1, 1980, p. 17.
8 Ibid., p.17.
9 Ibid., p.18.

Mexican revolution. This legacy remains to this day as
federal troops were ordered to close the same mine,
against the will of the workers, in August, 1989.
Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari seeks a
private buyer to operate the mine, and refuses to operate
it as a state entity, thereby jeopardizing 3,200 Cananea
jobs, and throwing 40% of the workforce of Cananea out of
Southeast of Cananea is a more modern copper smelting
and mining municipality, Nacozari de Garcia. This town
is the present home of the most modern copper smelting
facility in the world. Capable of producing 99.8% pure
ingots through a special refining process, this facility
also produces sulfuric acid (at an economic loss), a
byproduct of stack scrubbing activities. The plant is a
highly capital-intensive project, built with American and
English capital, and 75% of its output is sold to Swiss
buyers. While providing a needed economic base for this
once desolate mining town, the plant is largely computer
and machine operated, and it only employs 1,000 workers,
most as unskilled labor.11
10 Stephen Baker, "Salinas Strikes before the Miners
Can," Business Week. September 4, 1989, p.50.
11 Interview with Dr. Ramon Salazar, Safety Officer for
Mexicana de Cobre, July 18, 1989.

West of the municipality of Nacozari is the farming
municipality of Arizpe. Similar to Bacoachi in its
agricultural economic base, Arizpe is mostly made up of
proletarianized agricultural workers and large commercial
farms. While there are a number of smallholding
agricultural families, the majority of the land is
concentrated in the hands of larger commercial farming
ventures, who take advantage of state sponsored
irrigation projects to irrigate the parched desert
terrain and produce export crops.
The last municipality to be studied is that of
Fronteras. Similar to Arizpe-, Fronteras economy is
driven largely by agricultural activities. This
municipality possesses many ejidal cooperative farms, but
the majority of land is utilized by large commercial
farms. Irrigation infrastructure makes this sort of
farming possible in the desert landscape of northeast
Sonora, and the large landholdings are the major
beneficiaries of these infrastructure projects.
Fronteras is the beneficiary of State sponsored Rural
Development Projects, which seek to employ more of the
people through large infrastructure irrigation, and
X Censo General. 1980, p.19.
Ibid., p.17.

export agricultural projects under the auspices of the
Rockefeller foundations "Green Revolution" import-
substitution industrialization scheme.

The economies of the seven municipalities shown in
Figure 2.1 are relatively autonomous in activity, but
intrinsically linked to the fortunes of the neighbors to
the north. Many who cannot find work in these
municipalities in Mexico are seeking day work in
Southeast Arizona. Many Mexican nationals are employed
at the apple orchards and cotton growing areas of
Southeast Arizona. This work is mainly agricultural.
They need no naturalization documentation because they
cross the border in the morning and return in the
evening. The opportunity for employment in the United
States provides an essential safety valve for the lack of
opportunity in Mexico, as well as providing the
commercial farms of Arizona with a ready labor force
willing to do work Anglo-Americans might find
The amnesty program which allowed Mexicans with proof
of pre-1982 employment or residence to immigrate has
afforded many with naturalization, much easier than the
old green-card method. But this program has had problems
of fraud on the part of farm owners illegally selling the
necessary paperwork to unqualified Mexican nationals at
14 Mario Barrera, Race and Class in the Southwest
(South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983),

exorbitant prices. I have found little evidence of
refusal, like that seen in southern Texas. Most who
apply are accepted. The amnesty workers are jokingly
dubbed hungry "Hambrestios" by Arizona Chicanos. They
are so hungry that theyll take any job. Even though
they are legal, they still huddle and cringe in fear of
immigration harassment when they cross the border.
In the Bacoachi region of Sonora, social divisions are
most apparent. The economy of this municipality is
driven by the large landholders, mostly in the business
of cattle ranching. Cowboys find work with these
ranchers for a small wage and/or board. The holdings
are unusually large because the aridity of the region
demands high hectare/cattle ratio to avoid overgrazing.
Mr. Hector Salazar is one of these large landholders. A
large burly rancher in his sixties, Mr. Salazar is no
stranger to hard work. With his holdings, he can afford
a comfortable home in the town of Cananea, medical school
for his son, and a ranch house in Bacoachi.
Mr. Salazar has direct experience with the various land
seizure reforms of the past fifty years. He says that
during the first Cardenas regime, around 1940, he was
forced to give up an unspecified amount of land. He was
personally forced to give up more, "some five years ago".
My first impression in talking with Mr. Salazar was that

he had lost a large majority of his holdings to both
rebellious squatters and legitimate government-sponsored
ejidal cooperatives.
The ejido is an uniquely indigenous form of property
distribution in which the property is owned by the entire
village and farmed either communally or individually.
Many of these programs were initiated by the reformist
regime of Lazaro Cardenas in response to public pressure
of land seizures.
After asking for specific acreage statistics, I found
that Mr. Salazars losses were less than the impression
first conveyed. He had 10,000 hectares, lost some, and
now owns 7,000 hectares. One hectare equals just over
two acres.
The fact that Mr. Salazar was in a position to regain a
large amount of his holdings after the seizures can only
enforce an impression that those that seized the land
soon found themselves at a disadvantage, thus unable to
make this land productive. This disadvantageous position
can be the result of a number of factors. Stark desert
conditions make effective cattle grazing difficult
without a "critical mass" of land. Infighting among the
ejidatarios, or lack of public or private management
direction might lead to substandard production levels.
Or a systemic bias toward the emergence of concentration

of land and capital might put one class at a distinct
advantage over another. The land belonging to the larger
private holdings affords advantages to that class not
afforded the ejidatarios and smallholders. "Land value
in the minifundio and ejidal sectors remain far below
that of the larger private holdings, as did on site
irrigation and general capitalization...".
Table 2.1 Land Tenure and Capital Invested in Sonora (1970)
Plot (Hectares) # of plots Value per Hectare (pesos) In situ Irrig. (pesos) Machinery (pesos) Other (pesos)
>5 hec, 9910 82.81 376,797 1,339,096 943,286
<5 hec. 3120 3.23 1,912 172,662 25,382
Ejidos 417 .52 35,124 93,617 33,319
SOURCE: Steven Sanderson, Agrarian Populism and the Mexican State (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1981), p.152.
The Capital Investment evidence above suggests a
systemic bias in favor of the larger holdings. Even with
government support in the form of inputs, and with
constitutional protections against reversion of ownership
to the large landholders, the ejidatarios find themselves
with two alternatives, sell the capital inputs, or even
sell (or "rent") the land back to the large cattle
ranchers, in direct contradiction to the 1917 Mexican
Constitution. Even Mr. Salazar admits to widespread
existence of ejidatarios who find themselves with no
alternative other illegal renting of their parcels to
commercial farming; some of his land is rented from the
"squatters". With substandard capitalization levels, the

ejidatarios begin at a disadvantage, and must relinquish
their land to the largeholders.
Other disturbing trends have been observed which seem
to diminish the prospect of long-term viability of the
ejidal system. Large landholders, agitated as a result -
of land seizures of the mid-1970s, exert pressure on the
less productive ejidal groups to revert to tenancy. One
method is to create a ready market for the sale of ejidal
capital goods (farm equipment, etc.) donated by the
government. The ejidal groups effectively cash out, and
find themselves without any means of production. The
landed gentry in turn argues that the ejidal groups lack
any scale economies to succeed at farming because the
capital assets are being sold off, back to the landed
The justification from the largeholders for this
repatriation of land emanates from a disgust at the
ejidal system by the largeholders. Examples are given of
ejidal abuses and the flojo (lazy) work habits of the
squatters. But the disadvantaged position of the
landless campesinos must be addressed, absent effective
reform measures. The lack of a collective consciousness,
or social incentive for progressive alternatives may be

couched in the influence of competitive consumption on
the Mexican people.15
Mr. Salazar, a representative of the landed elites,
has little positive to say about the ejidos. He tells
stories of government-furnished dairy cattle from Canada,
$2000 per head, that were butchered for meat by the
ejiditarios. He also speaks of how one or two families
in the ejido get rich and then get out. One particular
instance, the Toyos family, moved to Baja California and
bought a spread with their riches, but were forced to
give it back to the ejido.
After spending some time with Mr. Salazar in Bacoachi,
I was able to observe just how some of the government
reforms instituted to benefit the campesinos have
actually advanced the interest of the elites. I also
sought first-hand observation of the relations of workers
to patrones (bosses).
I spent a day working on the ranch of Senor Salazar
with his cowboy Jesus. Jesus (pronounced Hay-soos) was a
wiry man who had lived a life of the campesino; long
hours for a little pay and food, and no accumulation.
The relations between Mr. Salazar and Jesus are very
15 Charles J. Erasmus, In Search of the Common Good:
Utopian Experiments Past and Future (New York: The
Free Press, 1977), p. 109.

authoritarian. The hand must work hard when Mr. Salazar
is around, but when the Mr. Salazar is not around, the
cowboy pursues his personal errands, to the chagrin of
his boss.
We arrived at noon at the small cowboy house that Mr.
Salazar had built for his hands. The cowboy Jesus had
the horses all saddled up, but had accomplished nothing
of what was expected. So after a tense moment of
scolding we went to "pump water", which is what the
cowboy said he had to do in order to "avoid" doing the
work that was expected to have been accomplished, which
consisted of erecting a windmill. Pumping water was a
half hour job, mostly riding in the truck. Mr. Salazar
blamed the poor condition of the water pump on the
cowboy, and in general showed a presumption of disgust.
Afterwards, we three spent five hours doing hard manual
labor in the 105 degree heat. I can now appreciate the
hard work of both these men. The problem is that one man
can enjoy the fruits of both his labor and the labor of
his employee. The employee on the other hand, is
considered lazy because the material incentive, in this
case, productive land and the fruits of his labor, is
not his. A wage that would cover his food bill would
create some material incentive.
During the period I spoke with the cowboy Jesus, I

asked if he was married (he was). I found that he tended
a small plot to supplement his room & board & small
stipend. I asked if he desired land of his own & he did.
This seems to show a incentive problem inherent in non-
ownership relations. Hector complains that the hand
doesnt work hard without supervision and that the hand
always questions authority and knows a better way. The
hand has the technical knowledge to run the ranch by
himself, but has no incentive because there will be
nothing to show for his work in the way of ownership or
product. Further, the relations of production here in
Bacoachi will effectively preclude Jesus ever having a
sufficiently large plot to support his family and produce
a surplus.
Later I found that a recent source of animosity between
the two regarded the use of milk. The cowboys are
allowed to milk the lactating cows and make cheese which
they sell. The rancher allows this as long' as there is
enough milk left to feed the new calves, and as long as
there is enough time for other work. The cowboy has a
greater incentive to milk cows for profit than to tend to
the ranch. Furthermore, the cows are. being milked dry
because of the market for this cheese is more important
to the cowboy than the condition of nursing calves that
will show the cowboy no profit.

Hector Salazar, however, says he cant fire the cowboy,
because there seems to be a large labor shortage. The
ranchers argue that the cowboys can afford to be lazy
because of the state-sponsored ejidal communes provide
enough "work" for everyone in the valley. Narcotrafico
profits also lure many to consider trafficking as a
career alternative. I think that many of the cattle
hands have become disenchanted with the authoritarian
relations with the large ranchers, and lack of
opportunity, and moved to the cities or the border. The
lure of narcotic superprofits also must be alluring to
many of these young men.
Mr. Salazar sells most of his cattle each year to
American buyers transshipping the cattle across the
border from Agua Prieta to Douglas, Arizona, and points
north. This supports an argument that much of the
foodstuffs of Mexico are being exported rather than being
used to feed a increasingly hungry populace. Recent
information by the PRI party acknowledges some
improvements in living conditions in Bacoachi, such as a
new sewage system. But statistics in the same article
show more industrialization for the export earnings at
PRI Cepes Sonora, Temas Sociales Basicos del Estado
de Sonora. September 1988, p.24.

the expense of domestic agriculture, consequently-
affecting workers dinnerplates.
In agriculture, small producers and ejidal communities
oriented to the domestic market have been increasingly
squeezed out by large-scale farms dependent on foreign
finance and technology and production for export. With
government blessing, its clear that the alliance of local
bourgeois and international capital has served to advance
their interests to the detriment of the dependent
economy. The "Green Revolution" is a useful case in
By utilizing high technology inputs, the Green
Revolutions purpose was to make for a more efficient use
of the 17% arable Mexican land. The Rockefeller
Foundation, in alliance with the Mexican agriculture
ministry, and the local bourgeoisie focused postwar
agriculture' developmental aid on select regions,
especially in the northern states, which had a high
degree of concentration in the hands of former
Porforistas and new "revolutionary" landlords. In
Sonora, for example, the government gave wheat producers
an annual subsidy of 250 million pesos ($20 million)

(some of which was pocketed by the landlords) with no
great increase m production.
With the purpose of replacing subsistence crops with
export crops, the Green Revolution contributed to the
dispossession of the peasantry, driving many of them to
the city, or the border, for survival.
It becomes clear that this trend has enormous negative
implications for the interests of the alliances over the
long run. The alliances have dispossessed the peasants
of their land, so the peasants now become semi-
proletarianized, that is, forced to supplement what
little food they can grow for their families with a job
at one of the large corporate farms producing for export.
Mr. Salazars cowboy Jesus is a prime example of just
this sort of semi-proletarianization. With no cheap
wage-foods, labor costs for business interests increase
as subsistence costs increase, lending credence to Mr.
Salazars complaint that he cant hire a hand for what he
can afford to pay. So disarticulation of one sector of
the economy from the other occurs when wages plus the
home plot cant keep up with subsistence needs.
The emergence of a labor surplus in agriculture 17
James D. Cockcroft, Mexico: Class Formation. Capital
Accumulation, and the State (New York: Monthly Review
Press, 1983), p. 139.

resulting from the Green Revolution, then breaks the
logic of the internal subsistence economy in favor of a
functional dualism with free semi-proletarianized
peasants. The Green Revolution reforms provide the
objective basis for intervention by the state to
eliminate remnants of precapitalist social relations,
through legal reforms. The economic purpose for
unleashing the development of capitalism in agriculture
was to increase food production and agriculture exports
in order to meet cheap food and foreign exchange
requirements of industry.18
Evidence of a labor shortage in Bacoachi represents a
countervailing trend which contradicts the model of
disarticulated accumulation and functional dualism. But
I submit that this labor shortage represents a temporary
glitch resulting from lucrative narcotrafico, and once
these "jobs" dry up, the forces of the model will once
again prevail. This low level of unemployment also seems
to be isolated to Bacoachi municipality.
It seems that an economic emphasis is being placed on
the hard-currency needs of industry rather than the
subsistence needs of the labor force. Mexican export
industries yielded surer incomes by preparing goods for
DeJanvry, op. cit., p.135.

the world market, than producing for domestic
consumption. Little was done to satisfy the internal
market that might a viable national economy.
The lack of viability at home lured many to seek
employment where they could. Active recruitment by
American agriculture and mining combined with lack of
opportunity in Mexico to create a crisis of immigration.
Dependent underdevelopment precludes a national
industrial capability able to absorb the displaced rural
populace so they become "pushed" to the border as a
direct result of American capitalist involvement in a
system that relegates Mexico to neo-colonial status, with
the blessing of the Mexican government.
Recruitment efforts of American agriculture and mining
from the post-war era until 1964 constituted a "pull" of
Mexican labor as well. Later, the border "puppet"
industries (maquiladores) also sought to employ rural
Mexican campesinos. During World War II, a reserve labor
force was needed for Southwestern agriculture, so the
"bracero" program resulted in active recruitment of
Mexicans for agricultural labor. Once the job market
tightened, political pressure led to the demise of the
bracero program. The same sort of political pressure
occurred during the depression. Abraham Hoffman argues
that the idea that the depression could be cured by

getting' rid of alien workers and giving their jobs to
Anglos was current during that decade, although is had
little basis in fact. Similar proposals have been
advanced today.
After the United States terminated the bracero program,
ending an arrangement that had legally contracted up to
450,000 workers per year for seasonal farm labor since
1940, Mexico and the U.S. resolved the idle labor problem
by initiating the maquilador projects. Maquiladores are
labor-intensive assembly or textile plants usually
situated on the border. The Mexican government allows
the maquilador companies to import parts duty-free, while
the U.S. government allows the return of finished goods
without usual tariffs. Besides traditional United States
manufacturers like General Motors, General Electric,
DuPont, and Dow Chemical, such diversified concerns as
Transitron Electronic Corp., Litton Industries, Fairchild
Camera, Hughes Aircraft, and Lockheed, most of them among
the top twenty subsidized clients of the Pentagon, moved
2 0
into this form of manufacture.
These plants take advantage of the cheap labor, but
leave little in the way of actual development industry.
Mario Barrera, op. cit., p. 133. 20
Cockcroft, op. cit., p.147.

Profits are repatriated and little technology transfer of
use to Mexican industry takes place. By 1982, U.S.
companies owned some 700 of these maquiladores, and most
of the employees are poor single women between sixteen
and twenty-three. A sizeable portion of their wages are
spent in the U.S. The Japanese have also seen the
business advantages of these manufacturing plants.
During the 1985-6 period, large Japanese manufacturers,
attracted by .steadily dropping labor costs and a
proximity to the U.S. consumer market, were particularly
active in making new investments in the maquilador
sector. Douglas, Arizona has a flourishing maquilador
sector, with nearly twenty-five such companies, involved
in such activities as clothing, auto parts, and Zenith
electronics manufacture.
Employment opportunities north of the border include
normal extractive and agricultural activities. But
Mexicans and Chicanos can expect an economic
subordination due to race, amounting to an extension of
the same colonial experience as in Mexico. Mexican
employees in the American southwest have experienced dual
Ibid., p.151.
22 Wayne Cornelius, The Political Economy of Mexico
under de la Madrid: The Crisis Deepens. 1985-1986 (San
Diego: University of California Press, 1986), p. 13.

wage discrimination, and de facto occupational
stratification. Business owners in Southeast Arizona can
take advantage of a captive labor force during the
natural boom-bust cycles of a mining-driven economy.
Douglas is a large copper mining and smelting based-
economy, and the reserve labor force is utilized when the
boom arises. These types of labor repression were
compounded by debt peonage of miners and smelter workers.
The workers often found themselves owing the company
store, but it made little sense for the mine company to
hold them to the debt when the bust came, so the workers
were released of their debt, as well as their jobs.
Border patrollers were serving the interests of these
employers by deporting a disproportionately higher number
of undocumented non-agricultural workers, who represent
forces which optimize the economics of alien labor,
rather than deporting all undocumented workers.23
The authoritarian relations of production in the
agricultural sector of northeast Sonora are found to have
a nexus with alliances of the Mexican state, elites, and
American business interests. The campesinos are finding
themselves in an increasingly difficult position of
increasing poverty, and increasing disillusionment with
what the system has to offer them.
23 Barrera, op. cit., p.155.

In northeastern Sonora, the local bourgeoisie allies
with transnational capital with the support of the
Mexican government to serve their common goal of managed
economic activity subject to the requirements of
functional dualism.
A dual system of accumulation exists between the
peasant and the commercial sectors of Latin American
agriculture. The peasant system utilizes family members
and produces for subsistence, while the commercial system
utilizes wage workers for profitable large-scale
production, much of which is exported. These two
entities must fiercely compete for wages and product
sales among peasants. The peasants in turn, must engage
in an intense search for productive resources (i.e., land
and labor power) in order to increase the productivity of
This dualism is functional in that the Mexican
government, large landholders, and multinational
corporations must constantly provide inputs in the form
of cheap foodstuffs in order to be globally competitive
while maintaining high profit for the domestic market.

Without cheap food for the peasant, the system becomes
A model of functional dualism is characterized as:
a source of primitive accumulation through cheap
semi-proletarian labor and cheap food, and a
contradictory process that leads to the
destruction of the peasantry. The principal
manifestations of this contradiction are the
demographic explosion, ecological collapse,
increasing landlessness under competition for land
with capitalist agriculture, and urban migration.
As the domination of capital over the
peasantry increases, the struggle for survival
induces not only a fierce competition for wages
and product sales among peasants but also an
intense search by peasants for additional
productive resources (land and labor power) in
order to increase the productivity of labor. And
as we will see, this search is largely
contradictory, for the very instruments of
survival available to peasants turn out to be
factors of destruction of the peasantry in the
longer run.24
The determinants of such extreme poverty as
that described above reside in the contradictions
of disarticulated accumulation and functional
dualism. Although the semiproletarianization of
an independent peasantry is functional in
sustaining peripheral accumulation, it is
accompanied by a collapse of the resource base
controlled by the peasants and by ecological and
demographic contradictions that cumulatively
deepen the development of underdevelopment in
peasant agriculture. It is these objective
contradictions that negate the perpetuation of
primitive accumulation on the basis of cheap labor
and cheap food delivered by peasants.25
24 De Janvry, op. cit., p.85.
25 Ibid p. 86 .

(The) demographic contradictions (of
functional dualism) characterize the social costs
of massive exploitation and gradual elimination of
peasant producers in Latin America.
What on the surface resembles a feudal dualism really
conceals the actual economic forces. By masquerading' as
a feudal production system in the backward areas of
Mexico, these precapitalist modes of production become
subject to many false analogies for resolution. By
arguing that these "feudal" modes can transpose
themselves into capitalist agricultural models through
growth and diffusion, the elites and landed aristocracy
find themselves empowered with a very useful motivating
tool. But these feudal images projected by the landed
estates only hide the more important reality of
capitalist influences.
In contrast with the European feudal experience which
evolved into a modern capitalist mode of production,
Mexicos history was one of colonial conquest by Spain.
Economic policies of Latin America and North America did
not spring from cultural orientations or racial
characteristics. Rather these policies arise from a
natural progression of economic patterns of their
respective colonizers. The subordinate economic pattern
of Spain resulted from a lack of capital investment of
26 Ibid. p. 93.

the new found mineral wealth, whereas in England, the
extracted riches of the New World were utilized to build
physical plant, thus easing the rough years, as well as
leading to unprecedented accumulation. North America
inherited this legacy just as Mexico inherited a legacy
first of classic dependence, then of dependent
The 1930s witnessed large redistribution of lands to
the peasantry, as large haciendas were broken up. The
collective ejidal share of total cultivated land
increased from 13% to 47%. The reaction of the Camacho
regime of the 1940s was to find loopholes in this
cooperative system of ejidos in order to reempower the
large farming enterprises, especially in northeast
Large capitalist farming emerged in the 1940s
seemingly in conflict with the Constitution of 1917, as
well as the just-instituted reforms of Cardenas. What
economic model for development would justify this seeming
abandonment of those sectors who most need to benefit
from development?
27 Ronald Chilcote and Joel Edelstein, Latin America:
Capitalist and Socialist Perspectives of Development
and Underdevelopment (Boulder: Westview Press, 1986.)
2 ft
DeJanvry, op. cit., p.124.

A model of import-substitution industrialization, with
the blessing of the Mexican State, has served to empower
the most efficient farming methods, as well as lead to a
reconcentration of lands to the most efficient, capital-
intensive agricultural activities. This capital
intensivity has served to underemploy and/or replace
workers, who must now utilize smaller parcels to feed
themselves with food they would otherwise buy. The food
grown on the large farms is for export, and much of the
food in the stores is imported. Why must a country
replace staple food crops like corn and frijoles, with
non-staple crops such as peaches, or fodder for exported
beef, and in turn import just those staple crops it once
grew? The answer lies in the mechanics of functional
In the state irrigation district of Fronteras
municipality, in northeast Sonora, we find just this sort
of counterintuitive agricultural activity. The Mexican
government engaging in a seemingly progressive Rural
Development Project has once again preserved and
strengthened the present order to the detriment of those
it sought to empower, the landless peasant. As seen
below, non-staple export crops are being phased in while
staple foods are being phased out. In 1981, 1982, and
1983, great increases in harvests were realized, but the

focus was on fodder grains for export cattle rather than
wheat grain for human consumption. The staple foods that
remained were largely for the export market. Export
vegetables such as lettuce and tomatoes are taking up
increasing amounts of land. The fodder grains and
alfalfa are increasing. Winter corn is no longer grown,
although summer corn harvests have increased slightly.
1979 1980 1981 1982 1983
Plantings (Hectares) 4,365 5,819 11,018 10,133 19,355
Total Harvest 4,365 5,819 10,549 9,095 19,355
Fall/Winter Total 1,515 2,263 5,519 4,861 14,807
Wheat Grain 687 1,127 1,042 1,986 1,571
Fodder Grain 4,477 2,698 3,227
Barley Grain 17 117
Vegetables 42 9
Corn Other 769 1,136 60
1979 1980 1981 1982 1983
Spring/Sumner A Perennial Total 2850 3,556 5,030 4,234 4,548
Cotton 253 37 29
Sorghum 385 334 347 221 217
Corn 877 824 1,089 826 1,004
Bean 987 1,306 1,569 1,455 1,412
Fodder 61 155 487 348 474
Vegetables 4 90 137
Alfalfa 269 789 1,260 - 1,140 1,139
Other 245 138 21 115 112
SOURCE: Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, Geografia, y
Informatica, Anuario Estadistica de Sonora. 1984, P.27.
The boldface values in tables 3.1 and 3.2 demonstrate
the large emphasis places on crops grown for export
cattle (alfalfa, fodder, etc.). These acres could be

used to grow more crops for the domestic foodstuff
market, lessening the dependence on imported foodstuffs.
But the hard currency needs of import-substitution
industrialization demand that this land be used for
export agriculture.
In the smaller Cochuta Agricultural Subsector, we find
similar focus on export agricultural grains, and
inefficient emphasis on fodder for export cattle, which
consume 100 calories of grain for each ten calorie of
beef produced. New emphasis is placed on the growing of
peaches, not a normal part of the Mexican diet.
Plantings 1981 1982 1983
(Hectares) 862 1,766 1,563
Total Harvest Fall/Hinter 777 1,640 1,250
Total 406 873 530
Wheat Grain 406 873 530
Fodder Grain Vegetables 12 169 285 2

Spring/Summer A 1981 1982 1983
Perennial Total 359 596 458
Corn 206 55
Bean 210 292 183
Vegetables 86 14 6
Alfalfa 63 63 116
Peaches 6 12
Other 15 86
SOURCE: Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, Geografia, y Informatica, Anuario
Estadistica de Sonora. 1984, P.29.
In Mexico, the road to development utilizing import
substitution industrialization tends to encourage
seasonal crops for export, such as peaches, summer and
winter vegetables, and export wheat. This form of
production relies on seasonal migratory labor. Contract
farming, in which foreign capital is invested under the
name of a local company, is one of the increasingly
important means by which international capital penetrates
Latin American agriculture, particularly in countries
like Mexico, which prohibit outright foreign
The emphasis on fodder and alfalfa crops also
reinforces the focus on export and internationalization
of Mexican agriculture. The export agricultural
activities do not represent an efficient use of land.
The Mexican campesino is rarely able to afford to eat

beef. This waste is exported to the U.S. for the hard-
currency demands of import substitution
The issue of dualism also arises in the areas of
capital .intensiveness of agricultural activities. The
large landholders and commercial agriculture benefit
from a vastly increased level of capitalization of
holding as compared to that of the ejidos and
smallholdings. The smallholders reap few of the benefits
or accumulation from operations, so this exploitation
results in a net outflow from worker to capitalist, hence
a dualism.
The majority of ejidos possess only non-
irrigated land on which essential foodstuffs are
cultivated, especially the traditional crop,
maize. Above all, these ejidos do not have access
to credit, and the result is greater dependence on
moneylenders. These may be capitalists from
outside the ejido, or local shopkeepers or farmers
who are more enterprising or thrifty that the
others. Here the danger of seizure of the plots,
even of complete ruin and elimination of the
ejidatarios, is greater than elsewhere. The
situation is comparable to that in certain ancient
indian communities which, at the end of the
nineteenth or at the beginning of the twentieth 29
Interview with David Barkin, economist at the
Universidad Metropolitana de Mexico, by Joel
Edelstein. Spring 1988.

century, were literally dispersed or destroyed by
the penetration and incursions of mestizos who-
since they were much more economically advanced
than the indians-rapidly took over the land.
Minifundios, or landholdings under five hectares, and
ejidos, with rare exception, have less on-site irrigation
as a percentage of total capitalization, and their level
of investment is much lower than that of the large
landholders, as shown above. It is a wonder that
ejidatarios and smallholders in the sierra and desert
regions of Sonora produce as much as they now do. The
minifundio in the sierra survives by leaving no land of
any value unworked. Many of the large holdings in the
hands of the large estates are vastly underworked or
lying in fallow. 30
Francois Chevalier, "The Ejido and Political
Stability in Mexico," The Politics of Conformity in
Latin America. Claudio Veliz. ed. (London: Oxford
University Press, 1967), p. 182.

> 5 Hectares
! Irrig.! Sierra Other Irrig. Sierra Other Irrig. Sierra Other
! Dist. ! Munis Dist. Munis Dist. ! Munis
Total Capital i Investment! (Millions)! 6233 1504.2 1 1 1376.4 376.2 112.9 103.5 1784.2 461.4 1 455.2 1
1 1 Total Hectares i Harvested !421,838!10570 18037 1904 1,653 1614 176,099 1 1 22929 1 11842
< 5 Hectares
X Capital Investment
per Hectare Harvested
(OOOpesos)J 14.81 142.3
1 I
X Value of Machinery as %
of Cap Inv| 33.4! 6.0
t I
X Value of Irrig. as % of
Cap. Inv. ! 5.3| *9
X Value of Land as % of
Cap. Inv. ! 49.7! 18.8J 25.4J 2.6 6.1! 9.1! 83.4! 24.1 22.2
(Worked)! 45.3! 2.3;' 5.8! 2.3 5.8[ 8.8j' 76.Oj' 7.0 8.2
(Idle) 4.4! 16.5! 19.6! .3 .3; .3! 7.4! 17.1 14.0
X Value of 1 Livestock as % ! 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
of Cap Inv! 11.7| 74.2! 64.0! 46.7 90.7! 85.5! 11.7! 71.6 68.6
SOURCE: Steven E. Sanderson. Aararian Populism and the Mexican State: The Struaale
for Land in Sonora. n . 154.
Table 3.5 demonstrates the effectiveness of the ejidos
and smallholdings given their low level of
capitalization, especially in the sierra. The
highlighted values show that by using primitive
unmechanized farming, the ejidatarios can still show good
levels of productivity, mostly by leaving little land of
value unworked. For example, commercial farms in the
sierra (>5 hectares) benefit from 1,423,000 pesos of
capital investment per hectare harvested while harvesting
10,570 hectares. The ejido in the sierra benefits from
201,000 pesos of capital investment of per hectare
harvested while harvesting 22,929 hectares. The ejidos
are utilizing the poorer quality land, and have little

irrigation support as is given the larger commercial
f arms.
A minifundio near the town of Agua Prieta showed
impressive efficiency (by necessity) in utilization of
the limited and parched land allowed by this smallholder,
Senor Mendez. The size of this lot was about five
hectares, half of which was planted for the personal use
of Mr. Mendez and his five children and grandchildren.
The garden plot was surrounded by ocotillo (cactus) fence
to limit the effects of the blistering sun in this high
desert region of Sonora. Irrigation was minimal, but
during the monsoon, isolated heavy rainshowers pummeled
the dry sierra. Given the lack of irrigation support,
the smallholder subsists on the rainclouds, but in the
dry sierra, the infrequent rainshowers are so heavy as to
wash the crops and topsoil down the arroyo.
Just like Mr. Salazars ranchhand Jesus, Mr. Mendez and
his family make their own cheese from goat. This helps
to sustain them with the bean and corn tortilla diet that
they subsist on. The limited size of this plot
necessitates the children and grandchildren to support
Mr. Mendez by working in various urban jobs in the city
of Agua Prieta. If not for the extended family of Mr.
Mendez sons and grandsons living at home, he would be in
much more dire straits.

In contrast to the intensive working of the land on the
part of the campesinos and semi-proletarianized workers,
many of the large holdings of the elites are allowed to
lie fallow. Even Mr. Salazar complained of the
overworking of the neighboring "better" lands by the
"squatting" ejidatarios. While I saw no evidence of Mr.
Salazars owning his land for the sake of prestige and
social stature, leaving it unworked, as has been reported
by many critics, I realized that the neighboring lands
had been utilized to a much fuller extent, out of
economic necessity.
Steven Sanderson argues that the sierra regions, like
Bacoachi, were milked in order to maximize commercial
export production in the irrigation districts, such as
Fronteras irrigation district #606 and #106. Lifestyle
improvements for smallholders like Mr. Mendez in the Agua
Prieta municipality are obstructed in order to afford
those of the Fronteras Irrigation District with an
improved lifestyle.
On the surface this exchange would seem a benign
substitution of quality of life between the more and less
fortunate actors. But there is a class difference
between the beneficiaries in these irrigation districts
and folks like Mr. Mendez. Mr. Sanderson argues that
"(t)he fourteen Sonoran municipalities within the

official national irrigation districts blossomed until
the mid 1950s under the same policies that impoverished
the 55 municipalities of the Sierra and desert regions of
the state...The dualism of the counterreform is painfully
evident..."31 It seems that the beneficiaries, the large
commercial farms, are growing items like peaches and
fodder in the irrigation districts, while the water table
decreases and creeks either dry up or flood for those who
only want to feed their families with a small plot.
The upshot of this inefficient use of resources is to
drive the young to find urban jobs, or cross the border
into the United States, as have the children and
grandchildren of Senor Mendez. What will happen when
these kids tire of supporting Mr. Mendez? What will
happen when he passes away? The plot of land which he
worked all his life, and represents his stake in the
system, will be absorbed by the same commercial farms
that squeezed it dry. The fact that he has worked his
life and has little accumulation, combined with milking
of the rural region to support accumulation in the urban
and international regions, effectively seals Mr. Mendez
The projections for population growth in Sonora are
31 Steven Sanderson, op. cit., p. 155.

robust, (see table below) But of even greater concern is
the projection that 25,000 young workers will be entering
the Sonoran job market annually, amounting to 4.2% growth
in the economically active population.
Projection Programmatic Median Historical
year Method Method Method
1986 1,743,705 1,744,589 1,771,000
1990 1,857,720 *1* 1,871,007 *1.1* 2,176,894 *3.8*
1995 2,012,211 *1.6* 2,063,811 *2* 2,692,201 *3.5*
2000 2,167,249 *1.5* 2,270,651 *2* 3,187,150 *3.4*
Source: Programmatic and Median Method CONAPO 1985.
Historical Method Sonora Government Agenda Statistics 1985-6
Meanwhile, Mr. Salazars cowboy Jesus will proceed to
float from job to job. Having no stake in the system, he
will have no stimulus to work the land hard, for he will
have nothing in the end to show for his effort except
payment that doesnt even cover the food bill. He has
become semi-proletarianized. His subsistence farm inside
the pre-capitalist estate for which he must pay rent in
labor services and/or in kind will wither as the
accumulation will not occur for Jesus, and he loses
access to this land and the cheese from Mr. Salazars
cows as Mr. Salazars estate becomes more capitalist in
nature under the inducement of market forces and the
pressure of public reforms. Jesus represents a class "in *
Estado de Sonora, Primer Informe de Gobierno,
October 13, 1986.

transition toward increasing proletarianization and
relocation in external subsistence farms." 33
The northern region of Mexico is an ideal location to
observe just this sort of dualism in action. This
process has been going on for a long time. Long
considered the most conservative region of Mexico, the
north would by necessity become the region of greatest
conflict, the region of struggle. "Capitalist forms of
labor exploitation were most developed in the north,
where much of the bourgeoisie was encouraging U.S.
capital and where investment in mining, iron, steel, and
agriculture had stimulated wage-price inflation and mass
migration from the interior to better paid work in places
further north and in the United States. In Mexico,
workers began demanding pay equal to that of U.S.
workers, or promotion to positions held by Americans." 34
If the worker cannot obtain a competitive wage in the
agricultural sector, then he must pin his hopes on an
industrial job. But with only 31.5%, or 574,000 people
with permanent full-time work, the competition is
fierce for jobs, especially in the industrial sector.
DeJanvry, op. cit., p.lll.
34 James Cockcroft, op. cit., p.95.
o c
Estado de Sonora, Primer Informe de Gobierno,
October 13, 1986, p.22.

Does increased industrialization in these peripheral
regions represent northeast Sonoras (and Mexicos)
ticket to a developed-country status like the United
States? In nearby Nacozari municipality, highly capital
intensive industrialization in the form of the most
modern copper smelting facility in the world may
represent this areas best shot at development. But can
this sort of development absorb the increased amount of
un- and underemployed agricultural workers displaced by
the forces of functional dualism? More importantly, can
the industrial jobs end the cycle of semi-proletarianism
by providing a full-time job that provides enough that
the worker doesnt have to supplement his income with his
own. garden plot? Can industrial development help the
system provide cheap food, an integral link in the
maintenance of the present economic model of development
in Latin America?
Nacozari de Garcia was the focus of attention of the
mining world during the early 1980s. The newest and
most modern copper smelting facility in the world was
built here, close to some of the largest ore bodies of
copper. Copper prices were on the rise, so it was deemed
a very shrewd business opportunity to build such a plant.
The nearby copper smelting facilities in Cananea and
Douglas, Arizona, were deemed too archaic to compete for

world demand of higher quality copper. Those facilities
were also gaining the ire of environmentalists because
the sulfur dioxide exhaust from those two plants was
considered the main source of an increasing Western.
United States acid-rain problem.
With United States and British capital, the Mexican
government formed Mexicana de Cobre, S.A., whose function
was to manage the nearby mine, and build and manage this
huge industrial undertaking. Fully automated and
computerized, this smelting facility utilizes a unique
four-step process that produces 99.8% pure copper.
(Cananeas three step process produces 98% pure and
Douglas output is 95% pure).36
Does Mexico have use for such pure copper? The answer
is no. A full 75% of the output of this plant is shipped
to Switzerland, with the remainder going to the U.S. and
Britain. The unique scrubbing system that was installed
at the urging of the U.S. and Mexican governments in
response to U.S. environmental concerns result in
production of large quantities of liquid sulfuric acid,
produced at an economic loss. The acid is in turn sold
to American companies like DuPont and glass companies.
Mexicos industrialization here fits a global economic
36 Personal interview with Dr. Ramon Salazar, safety
officer for Mexicana de Cobre, S.A., July 18, 1989.

market, and the facility makes an effort to absorb the
cost of clean air by producing the sulfuric acid. Given
the economic environment of austerity, this effort is
But are there long-term tangible benefits for
development of Mexico? The initial capital investment of
the Nacozari smelting facility is foreign, and the output
is exported. The Mexican input is raw copper ore, and
labor. The Mexican people would ostensibly benefit from
four factors: the price of the land, minerals, and labor,
and whatever technology transfer that the Mexican people
pick up from the plant. The technology transfer becomes
the most important, as this is a fundamental element for
Mexico to develop independently. But without the .
independent capitalization to build their own plant, and
without a ready market for their output, then independent
development for Mexico is effectively minimized.
Recent developments in the copper mining and smelting
industries demonstrate the noncommitment to progressive
values of the current Mexican President Carlos Salinas de
Gortari. Well-schooled in monetarist economics, Salinas
is engaging in a program of privatization of as much of
Mexicos economy as possible. Much of this activity was
inevitable, such as privatization of the government-owned
discos, restaurants, and other endeavors best left to

private initiative. But the effort to privatize the
copper mining and smelting industries is effectively
selling these industries to foreign interests, minimizing
the possibilities for independent development that would
so benefit the Mexican economy. The Nacozari operation
sold last year to foreign buyers for $1.4 billion, under
new.rules that permit 100% foreign ownership through
Moreover, the drastic action of privatization, or
putting up for bid government industries, is having
astounding repercussions for Mexican workers. On August
20, 1989, one week before copper workers were to strike
at the Compania Minera de Cananea, Salinas closed the
Cananea mine, declared it bankrupt, and threw its 3,200
workers into the streets with the aid of federal troops.
Salinas has made it clear that he would like to sell off
the mine to foreign interests. He is hoping to draw bids
topping $1 billion. With the union broken, the hopes of
workers in Cananea are less optimistic.
The hopes pinned on industrialization for the Sonoran
worker are like so many crops washed away in a flash
flood. The model of underdevelopment in Mexico is
reinforced by the evidence supporting the elements of 37
37 Stephen Baker, "Salinas Strikes before the Miners
Can," Business Week. September 4, 1989, p,50.

functional dualism as denying the working class the
basics it needs to support itself, namely cheap food
and/or a sufficient wage. The dynamics of functional
dualism are denying accumulation in the periphery in
favor of enhanced accumulation in the center, which
increases the incidence of rural destitution.

Capitalist agricultural development has followed a two-
tiered path in Sonora state. The intervention of the
state has played a major role in rural development since
the reforms initiated under General Lazaro Cardenas. The
growth of the ejidal cooperative farms was a direct
response to political power wielded by the peasant
classes for a more egalitarian distribution. The growth
of the larger capitalist commercial farms has served to
undermine the objectives of the ejidal cooperatives to a
point that they are now looked upon as failures by many
in northeast Sonora. This perception has afforded large
export-capitalist farming ventures with a consensus of
support among the voting populace in northeast, while
alienating the majority of eligible voters.
This emergence of concentrated agriculture, begun under
Camacho, specializing in commercial crops for domestic
use and the world market, served to create "a remarkably
productive and politically stable agrarian structure"
until the late 1960s. 38 Now this commercial
De Janvry, op. cit., p.123.

agricultural activity has become the dominant use of land
in northeast Sonora.
This is not to say that accumulation is negligible in
Mexico, but the accumulation in Mexico is a
disarticulated accumulation. To reiterate the argument
of the model, accumulation of profit is occurring in
Mexico, but this accumulation is not benefitting the
producers. The accumulation is distributed among large
landholders, multinational companies, and Mexican
governmental ministries. This accumulation is
disarticulated in that inadequate return to the producing
peasants has two unintended results: 1) the peasants
provide an increasingly inadequate market for the owners
goods, and 2) the peasants very survival as needed
workers is increasingly in doubt. The inability of the
peasantry to provide an adequate local market for
producers goods represents the severed link between
demand and output. Decreased local demand does not
result in decreased output, as should occur in
articulated economies, such as the United States. The
Mexican Government and business interests combine efforts
to achieve their goal of managed economic activity. In
turn, wages become a cost of production but do not serve
as a significant source of demand. Business interests
are then able to set any low level of wages, given steady

international demand for its produce and given a surplus
of labor. The elites then benefit from accumulation,
while the peasants dont, thus the inequity of
disarticulated accumulation. Business interests create
crisis when the low wage level will not cover the
subsistence needs of the worker.
Disarticulated accumulation occurs as the necessary
relation between production and consumption capacities no
longer imply a relation between return to capital and
return to labor, hence the economy becomes socially
disarticulated. Even with high-surplus-generating
activities, the continuing phenomena of increasing
poverty in the periphery is evident in northern Mexico.
A high rate of surplus value is generated on the basis of
1) high labor productivity in the modern sector and 2)
low wages permitted by a) functional dualism with
subsistence agriculture and the urban informal sector, b)
repression of wage demands in the industrial sector, and
c) the import of cheap wage foods from the center
(internationalizing the value of many staple foods), and
the imposition of price controls on wage-goods.39 40 Low
savings rates supplemented by foreign loans then increase
39 Ibid. p. 124.
40 Ibid.

repatriated profits to the center, as well as debt
servicing woes.
Under disarticulated accumulation, where
provision of basic necessities is not an objective
requirement of uninterrupted accumulation of
capital, rapid demographic growth is accompanied
by continually precarious levels of living. This
is particularly visible in the levels, of health
and education of the rural poor. Together,
insufficient sanitation and malnutrition in rural
areas undermine prospects for health; and even
where free education is available, the cost of
education is high to the peasant households in
terms of foregone revenue.41
This model of disarticulated accumulation serves to
explain many of the observed contradictions in the
Mexican political economy. It is also interesting to
observe how many of the seemingly progressive reforms
have only served to reinforce this model of
disarticulated accumulation. Combine this element of
disarticulated articulation with the phenomenon of
functional dualism and we can better understand the
economic patterns occurring in northeast Sonora. The
evidence in Table 4.1 shows that lower wages in the
Sierra and Nogales regions of Sonora (including our seven
municipalities) is serving to enrich other areas of
Sonora, namely the baja region (including Hermosillo and
Guaymas). Wages in the Sierra region in late 1984 for
foundry workers were 80.85% (874/1081 pesos) of similar
Ibid., p. 91.

jobs in the Baja (Hermosillo urban) area. The Nacozari
smelter is in the sierra region, while few foundries
exist in the Baja region. The money saved by withholding
wages in the sierra, promotes accumulation for the elites
in the baja; hence disarticulated accumulation occurs.
Other examples of this disarticulated accumulation are
shown in the data below:
All Salaries
Baja Costa Sierra Nogales
1980 80 145 125 155
1981 210 190 170 200
1982 280 255 225 275
early 1983 455 415 365 455
late 1983 523 478 421 523
early 1984 680 625 550 680
late 1984 816 750 660 816
early 1985 n\a 975 860 1060
Cowboy/Dairy Farmhand
Baja Costa Sierra Nogales
1980 227 183 158 196
1981 265 240 215 253
1982 354 322 284 409
early 1983 677 617 543 677
late 1983 778 711 626 778
early 1984 860 790 695 860
late 1984 1031 948 834 1031
early 1985 n\a 1232 1087 1339
Agricultural Machine Operator
Baja Costa Sierra Nogales
1980 225 181 156 194
1981 308 279 249 293
1982 411 374 330 403
early 1983 667 609 535 667
late 1983 676 701 618 676
early 1984 998 917 807 998
late 1984 1197 1100 968 1197
early 1985 n/a 1430 1262 1555
Foundry Machine Operator
Baja Costa Sierra Nogales
1980 249 213 183 227
1981 278 252 225 265
1982 371 338 298 364
early 1983 603 550 483 . 603
late 1983 693 633 558 693
early 1984 901 828 729 901
late 1984 1081 993 874 1081
early 1985 N/A 1291 1139 1404
Anuario Estadistica de Sonora, 1984. Instituto Nacional de Estadistica. Geografia v
Informatica. p. 373.

These exchange rates will aid in understanding the low
wage levels in American dollars. For example, the
minimum average salary in the Sierra in 1982 was 125
pesos/day divided by 48.41 equals $2.58 per day.
JULY 14, 1982
Buy Sell
Documentos (Controlled Dollar) 47.81 pesos 48.41 pesos
Efectivo (Free Dollar) 47.56 pesos 48.66 pesos
JULY 12, 1988
Controlled Dollar2,241.00 pesos
Free Dollar 2,260.00 pesos
NOVEMBER 8, 1989
Wall Street Journal
Free Dollar 2,623.00 pesos
The sierra includes the municipalities of Arizpe,
Bacoachi, Fronteras, and Nacozari, among others. The
Nogales region includes Agua Prieta, Naco, and Cananea,
among others. Our seven municipalities experience
markedly lower minimum worker salaries than in lower
(Baja) and coastal (Costa) Sonora, as demonstrated in the
above statistics. The bulk of the foundry jobs, for
example, are found in Nacozari, in the sierra. This
shows that while the accumulation is generated in the
2.273.00 pesos
2.330.00 pesos

smelters of the sierra, the workers in the other regions
receive a higher wage, or become benefactors of that
These statistics show a disarticulation. There is no
link between return to labor and return to capital. Many
of the maquilador work is in the Nogales border region,
and, again, the wage levels are substandard in comparison
to the wages offered in the more urbanized "center" in
the Baja region, which contains the cities of Hermosillo
and Guaymas.
Converting these wages into dollars shows that the
people of the sierra are living on the equivalent of
$3.24 per day in 1982. The cost of housing is
substantially lower than in the United States, but
foodstuff prices were only marginally lower than what
North Americans pay.
The Mexican people are finding survival difficult at
these wages, so many exert their power to pool resources
in the ejidal sector. But trends indicate a distaste for
these cooperatives from many who view them as a
government dole.
The trend towards the covert liquidation of the
unpopular ejidal sector, while overtly issuing more
titles for these communal properties still serves the
interests of the capitalist concentrated farming. The

more common association of the ejidatario with private
capital owners involves one of a series of arrangements
that is tantamount to rental. The ejidatario is paid a
fee for the use of his parcel, sometimes even paid for
the illicit use of his name, and if he is fortunate,
permitted to participate as a peon on his own land.
There occurs a humiliating juxtaposition in which the
ejidatario is deprived of his autonomy and subjected to
the decisions of irresistible bureaucratic or Commercial
interests which channel the ejidos surplus to the
support of domestic and international capital. 42
Ejidatarios and state enterprises had indirectly
produced surplus value by selling goods and services
below their value, and their inability to continue to do
so contributed to the demise of the economic "miracle" of
the 1960s. Far from detracting from development, we
find the ejidatarios as essential, albeit covert,
contributors to development. Ejidatarios sold their
commodities at or below "free market" prices. As their
crops constitute a significant portion of the working-
class consumption basket, the ejidatarios contributed
indirectly to surplus-value production by enabling
42 John Barchfield, "The Structure of Power and the
Deformation of Agrarian Reform in Mexico," Revista del
Mexico Agrario 14. 1981, p.23.

capitalists to pay lower wages than would be necessary if
workers had to pay free market prices for their
foodstuffs. 43
As argued by famed Latin American dependency theorist
Andre Gunder-Frank, "The countryside is poor not because
it is feudal or traditional but because it has enriched
the cities. Latin America is underdeveloped because it
has supported the development of Western Europe and the
United States" 44
It is often said that both the left and the right have
a clearer understanding of the fundamental elements and
contradictions that make up an economy than middle-of-
the-roaders. In this way, these polar forces often
realize that their analyses actually are strikingly
similar. During the Porfiriato of the nineteenth
century, Mexican capitalists and advisors had a seemingly
radical interpretation of events. Put in the
pejoratively blunt terminology now only reserved to
leftist critics of the economic system, arch-conservative
Porfirato minister of agriculture Lauro Viadas sums up
the situation one hundred years ahead of his time:
Roger Bartra, op. cit., 1974.
44 Andre Gunder Frank, Capitalism and Underdevelopment
in Latin America. (New York: Modern Reader, 1969),
p. 27 .

Agriculture is, before and above all else, a
business, and in every business the amount and
safety of the profits are what determine the
character of the enterprise.... Large scale
agriculture asserts itself and excludes small
scale family agriculture; it takes possession of
the land, attracted, and I would say strongly
attracted, by economic advantages that spring from
the two following causes: 1) The high price of the
means of livelihood....The high price of these
goods first to a high profit for the growers and
subsequently, a high price for arable land, which
places it within reach only of capitalist
entrepreneurs. 2) The cheapness of labor, which
reduces, relatively if not absolutely, the cost of
production and produces, thereby, the above-
mentioned effect of raising agricultural
One alternative for the labor force and the campesino
classes, is to change the power structures that exist in
the Mexican government, via the ballot. And we find
evidence of this sort of mobilization throughout Mexico
as hadnt been experienced before. But the record of the
Northeastern Sonoran voters demonstrates a historical
inclination towards the more conservative National Action
Party (PAN) candidates, combined with record abstention
rates, rather than votes for the more progressive
45 Cockcroft, op. cit., p. 92.

The economic forces of functional dualism and
disarticulated accumulation have created a shaky
foundation for future development. Workers are becoming
disenchanted as opportunities are diminished. Campesinos
are combining into state-sponsored ejidos while rumblings
of discontent with the ejidal system emanates from elite
circles. Austerity measures tax the motivation of the
workers and business interests alike. Workers and
campesinos in particular will face a grim future for
themselves and their children. Can the state (and the
dominant PRI party) maintain the perception that it is a
"revolutionary state" and the "revolutionary party"?
It is this perceived legitimacy that has buoyed the PRI
and the state itself in the eyes of the workers and
campesinos, since the 1911 revolution, and its
"revolutionary" Constitution. The original edict of the
PRI, in 1929, categorized its power base into four
distinct parts. The Institutionalized Revolutionary
Party was to represent and coalesce the interests of the
peasants, the workers, the popular (professional and non-
union labor) sector, and the military (later dropped).

But the years have eroded this revolutionary agenda for
the workers, professionals, and campesinos. Are these
factions aware of this erosion of commitment? If so, then
the state and party have lost their legitimate claim to
representation of those classes. The onus is on the
party and government power-centers to provide a viable
system to mollify the campesinos and workers, as well as
the small business, and big business factions. What are
the priorities of the state: Individual freedom? Social
welfare? Cradle-to-grave security? Can a diffusion-based
economic plan dependent on a reenactment of the glory
days of huge economic growth hope to coalesce the
factions? In todays ever-changing economic picture, the
old models of industrial growth-based economies are
woefully inadequate in satisfying the needs of the
For example, economic factors point to increasing
primacy of low-paying service-sector jobs, causing many
to migrate to urban centers. The shutdown of the Cananea
mine has already provoked a response by the commercial
interests in Cananea. They desire to market themselves
as a maquilador, or foreign in-bond industry center,
abandoning the more lucrative mining and smelting-based
economy. How will those who have the most to lose wield
power in such a new hierarchy?

An analysis of voting behavior in Northeast Sonora will
help to illuminate many of the rumblings in the stomachs
of the people. Many vote with their feet by leaving
their support bases; many vote with their butts, staying
at home on election day. Will they be inclined to vote
with their guns?
Northern Mexico is considered a stronghold of
conservative voting patterns. The fiscal-conservative
National Action Party, (PAN) captured four municipal
presidencies in the state of Sonora in 1979, including
Agua Prieta. In 1982, the PRI again lost the municipal
presidency campaign at Agua Prieta. The vote count was
5,697 for Leonardo Yanez Vargas (PAN), to 3,314 for Jose
Maria Montano Teran of PRI, and a third, Rodolfo Ochoa de
Anda, (PDM Partido Democratica Mexicano), obtained only
36 votes.46
PRI won 66 of 69 municipality presidencies, 17 of 18
local congressional positions, 7 federal congressional
positions, and the 2 senator seats in Sonora in 1982.
423,000 vote for PRI presidential candidate Lie. Miguel
de la Madrid Hurtado.
PAN officials petitioned Congress to nullify the
elections in Fronteras, Naco, Nacozari, Bacoachi, and
EL IMPARCIAL. July 13, 1982, p.4.

Cananea, because irregularities were detected against the
PAN candidates. 47
With calls of voting fraud during the 1982 national
elections, we find evidence of dissatisfaction not only
with the strongarm voting tactics of the PRI, but also
the agenda of the PRI in general. For the evidence of
these voting irregularities to correspond with our model,
the majority of the people in northeast Sonora, the
workers and campesinos, must mobilize to support the
parties that best serve their respective interests. With
calls of voting fraud emanating from the right, and PRI
hegemony moving in that direction, clearly there is
another countervailing inconsistency here that does not
correspond with the paradigm that has been outlined so
far. The worker and campesinos must either "be wielding
power outside the framework of the electoral process
(e.g. by not voting), or they have been coopted by
internationalist diffusion economic models advocated by
the PAN, Either way, support for the more progressive
parties is not seen in northeast Sonora.
The lack of a collective consciousness, or social
incentive for progressive alternatives may be couched in
the influence of competitive consumption on the Mexican

people.48 The affluence of Mexicos northern neighbors as
projected in the media and culture certainly provides an
individualist motivation on voting day. The Mexican
might feel that if the conservative-monetarist PAN
candidate can be elected to office, then he might have an
opportunity to increase his personal accumulation. But
the record shows that the logic of disarticulated
accumulation will deny the Mexican this opportunity to
personal accumulation and competitive consumption.
The more progressive voting states are in the South,
such as Michoacan, Oaxaca, and Morelos. In the 1988
elections, The FDN(PFCRN) (Frente Democratico Nacional)
of Cuautemoc Cardenas consisting of a coalition of two
parties, the PARM (Partido Autentico de la Revolucion
Mexicana) and the PPS (Partido Popular Socialista)
took Mexico City, the Distrito Federal, Morelos, and
Michoacan, in the campaign for the office of the
presidency. (The famous peasant leader Emiliano Zapata
was from Morelos). Cardenas FDN coalition also breaks
the 40 year PRI stronghold on the Mexican Senate by
Charles J. Erasmus, In Search of the Common Good:
Utopian Experiments Past and Future (New York: The
Free Press, 1977), p. 109.

taking the two seats of Mexico City, and the two seats of
the state of Michoacan.
In the 1988 elections, Carlos Salinas de Gortari (PRI)
won 50.36% of National vote, with Cardenas (PFCRN)
earning 31.12% and Clouthie.r (PAN) at 17.07%, amidst
calls of fraud and a 49% national abstention rate.
Magana (PDM) earned 1.04% and Rosario Ibarra (PRT) gets
.42%. The support for progressive congressional
candidates in Sonora is weak as shown in the table below. 49
District I 63,952 11,722 532 129 231 217 429 495
District II 25,514 22,879 319 251 359 446 789 896
District III 30,078 3,575 1,203 108 165 474 2,145 1,735
District IV 57,247 3,640 1,534 172 828 3,018 1,157 1,785
District V 36,969 16,999 753 130 86 238 611 933
District VI 37,570 10,527 224 241 266 294 253 790
District VII 31,144 13,555 1,718 150 239 773 896 2,183
SOURCE: EL IMPARCIAL. July 12, 1988, p.2.
49 EL IMPARCIAL. July 11, 1988, p.l.

(PFCRN)FDN Frente Democratico Nacional
Cuautemoc Cardenas
PARM Partido Autentico de la Revolucion Mexicana
PPS Partido Popular Socialista
PRI Partido Revolucionario Institutional
PAN Partido Accion Nacional
PMS Partido Mexicano Socialista
PRT Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores
PDM Partido Democratica Mexicano
PLM Partido Laborista Mexicano
PNA Partido Nacional Agrarista
PNR Partido Nacional Revolucionario
PRM Partido de la Revolucion Mexicana
PSF Partido Socialista Fronterizo
PSUM Partido Socialista Unificado de Mexico
The highlighted values in the Table 5.1 show larger
than expected support for progressive candidates in State
Districts III and IV. The trend, however, show a larger
than normal support for PAN, or conservative candidates.
The statistics for Mexico as a whole show lower support
for PAN candidates than is exhibited in the state of
Amidst the contradictions of functional dualism and
disarticulated accumulation, one would think that the
campesino and working classes, which make up the majority
of citizens in Sonora, would cast their votes for more
progressive candidates during the 1980s. The tables
below demonstrate that the campesino and working classes
represent a majority in each and every one of the seven
municipalities that make up Northeast Sonora.

Total Govt. Agri. Manufacture Mining
Total 484,277 64,843 100,765 46,493 4,330
Bosses 31,253 3,391 7,613 3,108 207
Employees 249,161 38,865 45,601 29,596 3,181
Coop Members 10,164 382 6,545 587 33
In-kind Labor 64,036 7,143 19,806 5,220 342
Unpaid Labor 21,345 2,838 5,403 2,315 75
Inspecific 104,733 12,224 15,797 5,667 429
Unemployed 3,685
Total Govt. Agri. Manufacture Mining
Total 13,124 1,649 939 3,682 63
Bosses 643 76 76 113 3
Employees 7,828 962 430 2,737 47
Coop Members 79 6 28 17 0
In-kind Labor 1,382 273 244 172 3
Unpaid Labor 757 91 74 241 4
Inspecific 2,330 241 87 402 6
Unemployed 105
Total Govt. Agri. Manufacture Mining
Total 1,466 146 727 53 5
Bosses 40 5 17 2 0
Employees 490 56 237 10 5
Coop Members 44 1 32 11 0
In-kind Labor 460 16 279 12 0
Unpaid Labor 158 33 74 9 0
Inspecific 267 35 88 9 0
Unemployed 7
Total Govt. Agri. Manufacture Mining
Total 634 51 336 27 0
Bosses 12 1 6 0 0
Employees 236 26 96 12 0
Coop Members 6 0 6 0 0
In-kind Labor 213 4 138 10 0
Unpaid Labor 49 3 37 1 0
Inspecific 118 17 53 4 0
Unemployed 0
Total Govt. Agri.. Manufacture Mining
Total 7,525 1,002 558 650 1,261
Bosses 333 41 39 24 21
Employees 4,542 646 292 455 1,045
Coop Members 102 13 20 14 6
In-kind Labor 618 103 65 51 37
Unpaid Labor 175 14 19 18 2
Inspecific 1,685 185 123 88 150
Unemployed 70
Total Govt. Agri. Manufacture Mining
Total 1,214 101 440 147 23
Bosses 56 6 24 0 2
Employees 629 45 211 61 17
Coop Members 8 1 6 0 0
In-kind Labor 230 16 129 22 2
Unpaid Labor 73 7 29 5 0
Inspecific 205 26 41 59 2
Unemployed 13

Total Govt. Agri. Manufacture Mining
Total 1,351 215 210 157 39
Bosses 58 10 1 9 0
Employees 795 130 134 98 34
Coop Members 29 0 4 14 0
In-kind Labor 122 34 10 12 0
Unpaid Labor 42 7 8 7 0
Inspecific 282 34 53 17 5
Unemployed 23
Total Govt. Agri. Manufacture Mining
Total 3,358 410 155 444 446
Bosses 178 17 16 5 7
Employees 2,076 229 51 373 409
Coop Members 9 0 0 0 2
In-kind Labor 171 20 33 7 2
Unpaid Labor 128 33 22 16 3
Inspecific 791 111 33 43 23
Unemployed 5
SOURCE: X Censo General de Poblacion v Vivienda. Estado de Sonora, 1980,
pp. 27-34.
As shown in table 5.2, the vast majority of the
economically active population are involved in non-
managerial positions. They are, first and foremost,
workers. In Agua Prieta, the largest border urban center
in Northeast Sonora, bosses make up 4.9% of the
economically active population. Once we exclude these
bosses, and the economically active who reported to be
out of work, and those who declined to give a job
description, we are left with 76.55% of the economically
active population of Agua Prieta municipality who would
describe themselves as workers.
The voting record in Agua Prieta shows that the
majority are often shunning the platform of the
predominant political party of Mexico, the PRI. The fact
that the majority of the economically active population
in Agua Prieta are workers, implies that the the party of

choice would presumably be a more progressive coalition
like the PCFRN of Cardenas.
The issue then becomes one of legitimacy. Do the
elected representatives truly represent the hearts and
minds of the majority of the people. We have already
observed claims of massive voting fraud. How many
eligible voters are exercising their power by not voting?
The abstention rate in Sonora is large and increasing.
Of registered Sonoran voters in 1988, a total of 492,735
(54.79%) did not vote in that national election in
Sonora. Only 406,517 '(45.21%) voted, of 899,252
registered voters. 1982 experienced 52.08% abstention
rate of 727,765 registered voters.50 Voter apathy is
evidenced in Sonora. If not apathy, possibly repression.
This abstention rate is higher than levels seen in the
United States, and much higher than levels in other
democratic systems. The evidence suggests that the
Sonoran and Mexican electoral system as a whole does not
represent a democratic system of choice. Therefore the
party and the state do not have a legitimate claim as
representatives of the people and their interests. The
mobilization of the working and campesino classes becomes
increasingly important, and northeast Sonora has
EL IMPARCIAL. July 15, 1988, p.l.

experienced just this sort of mobilization in the form of
democratic action at the workplace instead of the voting
The northeast corner of Sonora has enjoyed a rich
legacy of class struggle. Long thought of as a region
dominated by conservative landholding elements> the seven
provinces of northeast Sonora also have a large worker
contingent, as the mining and semi-proletarianized
agricultural economy becomes more urbanized and service
oriented. But uprisings in northeast Sonora are not
isolated to this modern transition to urbanization.
History shows that the mining and ranching districts of
Nacozari and Cananea have long experienced struggle in
the form of organized strikes and land seizures.
In 1906, the PLM (outlawed Liberal Party) led a strike
against an Anaconda subsidiary at the Cananea mine in
Sonora, making the demand for equal pay and equal
position as Americans a central issue of the strike.
United States troops were sent across the border, and
some 275 armed United States volunteers under the command
of six Arizona Rangers temporarily occupied Cananea,
before being replaced by Mexican troops. Nearly 100
Mexican workers were killed in this skirmish. This
strike is considered the impetus that brought other
contradictions to a head, leading to the revolution of

1911, and images of the Cananea strike were often evoked
during that revolution. 51
A famous land invasion in 1957 of Cananea Cattle Co.
land by the UGOCM (General Union of Mexican Workers and
Campesinos) and its leader Jacinto Lopez resulted in
renewed militance in the Cananea municipality for years
to come. This uprising was quashed when the government
dispatched federal troops to expel the squatters.
Reaction to the government tactics has motivated the
campesinos to coalesce in to action groups. One of these
is Accion Agraria. These groups are now working from
within the system to maximize advances on the land
distribution front. They were recently able to sign an
accord with the federal government that would prioritize
24 agrarian nuclei for development in Sonora.52
Another of these is La Comision Agraria Mixta, a watch
group for independent agriculture, ejido, and comuneros.
This group was able to oversee 156 application for land
title for individuals, collectives, and ejidos. Of these
they were able to resolve 66 title applications that
allowed the delivery of 14901 certificates of agrarian
rights to that many campesinos. These groups helped
51 James Cockcroft, op. cit., p.95.
Primer Informe de Gobierno. Estado de Sonora, August
1986, p. 33.

initiate reformist measures that conferred 21,266 private
proprietary titles, 1187 colonia titles and 2,195
national land titles in 1986. 53
The reformist measures and the growth of incipient
agrarian organization has not spilled over into the
extractive industries. The Confederation of Mexican
Workers (CTM) has failed to support many mine strikes in
northeast Sonora.
A major militant non-CTM (Confederation of Mexican
Workers) sanctioned wildcat strike occurred at the
massive Nacozari mine in 1979. Ex-miners, young miners,
and the regions unemployed led the strike movement.
Even though the strikers could not count on the
government aligned CTM for support, the strikers were
able to gain the support of the United Mine Workers of
the United States. The strike was brutally repressed by
government troops, police, and even armed CTM men.
The CTM often finds itself unable to effect decisive
victories when it does support the miners. The proposed
strike at the Cananea mine in August 1989, was
effectively muted when President Salinas mobilized troops
to shut down the mine in an attempt to find a private
buyer. Clearly Mr. Salinas would prefer a non-union

operation on the auction block, given its enhanced appeal
for international financial influx, and this is what he
has effectively done. The evidence of infighting,
cooptation, and alleged corruption at the CTM has shown
that this union and its leader Fidel Velasquez far from
represent the interests of the working class, and thus
are unable to effect positive change. The state once
again finds itself in the drivers seat, effecting change
on its own terms.
The state has played a shrewd role in maintaining the
ejido programs. Cockcroft argues that "the preservation
or creation of small landholdings and highly parcelized
ejidos served to maintain the appearance of an ongoing
agricultural reform and to deflect the rural class
struggle into reformist channels. The function of the
ejido and minifundio has since (the Aleman presidency
1946-52) been, in sociologist Roger Bartras words, to
act as a "shock absorber" for the social violence
inherent in capitalist agriculture."54
This tendency toward "social violence" is exactly what
the state desires to control. By evoking images of
"institutionalized revolution" and strictly controlling
elections, the state and party can minimize the effect of
54 Cockcroft, op. cit., p.153.

any incipient class-based actions. But the consolidation
of the alliance of government, international capital, and
and the national bourgeoisie effectively excludes the
remainder of the population (i.e., the campesinos and
workers). The pursuit of internationalist monetarist
policies in times of economic distress will reduce the
support of the classes that are facing the brunt of
For reasons outlined in the next chapter, we will
better understand the makeup of the Mexican state, and
why the people with the most to lose are not responding
to the inequities and economic trends that are occurring
around them.

How has the Mexican government responded to this crisis
of legitimacy? Rural development projects attempted to
take agrarian reform to a higher success level.
Utilizing diffusion economics in an internationalist
model, these programs served to reinforce the triple
alliance by creating a rural middle class. The make-work
projects have not effectively transformed peasants into
self-sufficient farmers as intended because of
unfavorable terms of trade for wage foods, diseconomies
of scale, and the constraints of functional dualism.
While the state in any society performs a variety of
functions and can take many different forms, it is always
the organizer of society in the interests of the class
structure taken as a whole. The state is rooted in the
economic infrastructure from which it springs and which
it in turn affects. It retains a certain autonomy from
the infrastructure, develops in the general interests of
the ruling class (or combination of dominant classes or
class fractions), and serves to reproduce and reinforce
the prevalent economic conditions of life. Like the
infrastructure, the state develops on the basis of

contending classes and itself plays an active role in
class formation, as well as capital accumulation. When
emergent, vital bourgeois fractions are pushing the
economic process forward and seeking both economic and
political hegemony, they often confront the resistance of
older ruling-class fractions, including large landowners,
merchants, and internationally connected bankers.
Simultaneously, all these dominant economic interests may
be threatened in common by conscious underclasses,
especially those being proletarianized by this type of
development. Short of revolutionary transformation of
both the economy and the polity, the next best solution
in such situations from the capitalists point of view is
essentially to insure cooperation of the masses via
infrastructure improvement and increased delegation of
power without tipping the balance that might provoke a
And it has been just this sort of infrastructure
improvements and power-sharing schemes in a stagnant
economy that have buoyed the hegemony of the state and
the party during rough times for both. In 1981, both
Nacozari and Esqueda, in Nacozari municipality,
benefitted from urban plans, which sought to afford many
55 Cockcroft, op. cit., p.329.

of the local populace with a larger say in planning. The
anticipation of the large smelting facility led to this
attention. Bacoachi municipality earned a new sewage
facility. And Sonora in general undertook a large
housing project with up to 54% private aid:
built by built by built by
Year Public Sector Private Sector Social Sector Total
1980 1763 1812 3575
1981 4259 62% 1677 25% 895 13% 6831
1982 3482 42% 4488 54% 337 4% 8307
1983 5172 52% 1554 16% 3204 32% 9930
1984 2916 15% 3003 16% 13382 69% 19301
1985 3998 15% 4354 17% 17576 68% 26000
SOURCE: PRI Cepes Sonora, Temas Sociales Basicos del Estado de
September 1988
Amidst the large projections for population growth
(see table 3.6), the state of Sonora will be in for a
difficult time in housing its increasing working class.
Progressive parts of the 1917 Mexican Constitution
guarantee "in agriculture, industry, mining, or whatever
other class of work, the workers are allotted comfortable
and hygienic habitation".56 But the inhabitants of Sonora
are forced to live five to a house, on the average. Of
these houses, 46% are too small to house the size of
families that now inhabit them; 53% dont have good
sewage; 21% dont have electricity; and 17% of the houses
in Sonora dont have inside water.57 The state, playing
56 1917 Constitution of Mexico, Section 12, Article
PRI Cepes Sonora, Temas Sociales Basicos del Estado
de Sonora. September 1988.

its role as organizer of society in the interests of the
structure taken as a whole, now represents a strained
nexus between the opposing interests. In a declining
economy, how can the state insure that these improvements
be made, power be shared, and profits be maximized?
Many of the seemingly benevolent government reforms
have served actually to alienate those it sought to
empower. The ejido land reform program is a good
example. Land expropriation and redistribution by the
government, which began in the 1920s, was accelerated by
president Cardenas during the 1930s. Most of the land
was redistributed in units known as ejidos, an indigenous
mode of organization in which property is owned by the
entire village and farmed either communally or
individually. As of 1978, 43% of Mexican farmland is
e fi
held by 18,000 ejidos, and 4,000 are communally farmed.
Some disturbing trends are occurring in Sonora with
the ejidal lands. Article 55 of the 1911 Mexican
Constitution explicitly prohibits sale of ejidal lands.
Exceptions to this rule are permitted under Article 76,
and various agrarian reform laws allow the leasing of
ejidal parcels. By 1970, some 70% of Sonoras ejidos,
e o
Gary Wynia, The Politics of Latin American
Development. (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University
Press, 1978), P.264.

according to most estimates, were rented back to large
landowners. 59 Hector Salazar, the Bacoachi cattle
rancher, confirms that this activity is commonplace. Mr.
Salazar attributes this phenomenon to poor land
management on the part of the ejidal campesino. The
argument has been made that the large rancher has better
access to capital goods, has more land concentration, and
thus can enjoy the economies-of-scale that these benefits
bring. A vicious circle occurs when the rancher utilizes
his superior position to absorb the holdings of the
smallholders and ejidatarios, thus increasing these
productivities, and enhancing his superior position. The
state steps in to check this concentration, but is
subverted, via the means shown above.
But the initiation of the ejidal programs were
intended to maximize the social benefit of cooperative
agriculture. Ejidatarios were to enjoy the economies-of-
scale that cooperation can bring. With state help, the
ejidatarios were to have the same access to capital goods
as the large landholder. The state benefits from a
smaller welfare load as the ejidatarios become producers.
This ejidal system is an example of rural development
along a "farmer route".
59 Cockcroft, op. cit., p. 167.

The "farmer route" postulated that rural development
does not arise from the ashes of large feudal estates,
but instead small farmers become small capitalists. For
capitalism to develop in this manner, social
differentiation must increase. In this system the most
enterprising and fortunate peasants might accumulate land
and capital and find themselves able to hire labor power,
while the majority suffer losses and are eventually
converted into proletarians. This view submits that
" insignificant minority wax rich, get on in the
world, turn into bourgeois, while the overwhelming
majority are either utterly ruined and become wage
workers or paupers, or eternally eke out an almost
proletarian existence." 60
One can find evidence of this phenomenon in the ejidal
programs of Northeast Sonora. Hector Salazar, the cattle
rancher in Bacoachi municipality, speaks of contempt for
the ejido program. In his discussions, he relates the
story of the Toyos family. Through shrewd business
practice, this family found itself in the position as an
ejidal loan source. The family was able to manage land,
cattle, and financial operations at the ejido as less
60 V.I. Lenin, "The Development of Capitalism in
Russia," in Collected Works. Vol. 3 (Moscow: Progress
Publishers, 1964), p.32.

fortunate campesinos sold off their interests. Before
long, the Toyos family decided to take their accumulated
wealth and leave the state of Sonora, eventually
relocating in the state of Baja California. This family
benefitted from the reformist governmental inputs, as
well as the misfortune of their fellow ejidal campesinos,
and took their booty to Baja California.
The family was apprehended and forced to return their
accumulation to the Bacoachi ejido.
Many might submit that the central planning of the
ejidal type of system does not reward initiative. The
Toyos family certainly exercised shrewd foresight in
order to position themselves as beneficiaries of what the
system could offer them. But an analysis consistent with
a model of disarticulated accumulation and functional
dualism would demonstrate that this type of behavior only
reinforces the dynamics that have led to huge
concentrations of fallow land while the vast majority are
living in squalor, as accumulation leaves its source.
This family also had the added benefit that they utilized
the reform measures to subvert the very ends that those
measures were formulated to address. They could play the
social system to its fullest individual benefit.
Nora Hamilton, in her insightful essays on the makeup
of the Mexican state, has demonstrated that the Mexican

development model has pursued two ideological pathways,
the nationalist and the internationalist. The
internationalist development model, advocated by
individuals and agencies associated with the state
financial sector (particularly the Ministry of Finance,
the Banco de Mexico, and the government development
banks), stresses development along highly capital-
intensive industrial projects, such as the Nacozari
smelting facility. Hamilton argues that such capital
intensive industrialization benefits the more powerful
private economic groups, which in turn benefit from
direct access to foreign capital and technology, as well
as relations with the state financial sector. This
triple alliance is well defined in this example, and fits
the makeup of the Nacozari smelting facility well. These
interests are most likely to vote for National Action
Party (PAN) candidates.61 (See Chapter Five.)
The nationalist model of development is represented by
small business interests which benefit from national
capital, including manufacturing firms represented in
CANACINTRA, (National Chamber of Manufacturing Industry).
The interests of the small and medium firms
associated with CANACINTRA have traditionally
61 Nora Hamilton, "State-Class Alliances and Conflicts:
Issues and Actors in the Mexican Economic Crisis",
Latin American Perspectives. Fall 1984, p.6.

been represented by nationalist elements within
the state, which include sectors of the Mexican
left. Policies oriented to national industry,
increased employment, and state economic
intervention, including nationalization of key
industries, are also promoted by elements of
the working class and particularly the major
labor confederation, the Confederacion de
Trabajadores de Mexico (CTM.) .... Proponents of
the nationalist model have succeeded to some
extent in checking the internationalist model,
but the latter is clearly dominant, as is
evident in the presence of foreign corporations
in key sectors of the economy... 2
However, recent developments favor a more
internationalist model, long advocated by the PAN, being
pursued by the the new PRI president, Carlos Salinas de
Gortari. Internationalist joint-venture actions are
having a direct effect on the inhabitants on northeast
Sonora, especially those who work (or worked) for the
mining companies. By abandoning the nationalist model,
the PRI has gone on the offensive by privatizing key
industries, and alleviating restrictions on foreign
capital investment, thus opening the door to foreign
penetration of the Mexican economy.
Many would argue that this privatization is
beneficial, more efficient, or inevitable, but the fact
is that the long legacy of social responsibility on the
part of the state and party is now crumbling, in the name
of international development and the global village.

With 3,200 newly idle workers in Cananea, this sort of
efficiency is eating its own.
Problems for the mining community as a result of this
internationalist focus were foreseen by the government as
early as 1986. Problems were sprouting as a result of
international pricing not covering the price of inputs,
and small and medium mining interests not being
sufficiently integrated. But the Cananea mine was
improving' its capacity and getting back towards
profitability. The action of the state in closing this
mining operation effectively displays its allegiances to
monetarist economic models, and an abandonment of its so-
called social agenda.
Even the ejidal cooperatives are falling out of favor
amidst claims of government waste and intrinsic
inefficiency. But studies by Steven Sanderson show that
many ejidos contribute to economic development, and are
not intrinsically inefficient social "safety nets". In a
study of sixty-two ejidos in Southern Sonora, "the rural
bank found that of 29,845 ejidal hectares of wheat, the
average wheat yield was 4,684 kilograms/hectare,
exceeding commercial farming yield of 4300 kg/hectare,
and the total average for southern Sonora of 3500
fi 1
Primer Informe de Gobierno. Estado de Sonora, August

kg/hectare."64 These high levels of productivity also
serve the interests of the commercial farms.
"... in... Northwest Mexico, where ejidos receive the
strongest state support, did production for export
increase, contributing to a subsequent boom in capitalist
agriculture in the adjacent better equipped private
properties of commercial farmers."65
The conception of the state as organizer of society in
the interests of the class structure taken as a whole
allows the observer to understand the existence of the
tightly knit alliances and the motivations of these
alliances in insuring the maintenance of the status quo.
Remarkably resilient, this arrangement of the state helps
illuminate some of the contradictions of voting behavior
outlined in chapter four. The teflon state finds itself
able to maintain itself via a so-called "democratic"
voting process, while class-conscious, action is occurring
outside the voting arena. But the monetarist measures of
austerity that goes along with such a internationalist
policy will haunt the existence of such an arrangement,
as we have already seen in other Latin American countries
recently (e.g., Brazil, Venezuela). One can only
64 Sanderson, op. cit. P. 201
65 Cockcroft, op. cit, P< 133 .

conclude that increased class consciousness on the part
of the majority of the populace will endanger the
maintenance of the system as the state would now have it.

For a model of disarticulated accumulation and
functional dualism to serve as a useful paradigm in
analyzing the political economy of a Latin American
region, certain strict criteria must be met. It must be
shown that accumulation of profit is not returned to the
agrarian producers of that profit, but rather that
surplus is distributed among large landholders and export
interests, under direction of the Mexican government. A
disarticulation of that accumulation would manifest
itself as a decrease in demand for local goods, normally
a function of wages. Wages now become only a cost of
production, losing their function as driver of demand.
Government reforms attempt to prop up demand, increasing
the disparity. Crisis occurs when the low wage level
cannot cover the subsistence needs of the workers and
Disarticulated economies lack necessary relationships
between the rate of profit and real wage growth, between
development of the forces of production and the rate of
surplus value, and between the rate of growth and the
distribution of income. Economies characterized by
functional dualism depend on substandard labor cost

outlays facilitated by subsistence agriculture, resulting
in a semi-proletarianized work force. Subsistence
peasant agriculture competes for resources with
commercial for-profit agriculture, creating a dualism.
This dualism is functional in that wage levels never fall
below that needed to reproduce the labor force, when
combined with subsistence agriculture. But as commercial
farming activities increase in the periphery, the already
poor-quality land set aside for subsistence activity will
decrease in availability, threatening this arrangement.
De-linking of the campesino classes from the
accumulative process going on around them, forces the
campesino classes to gravitate to the urban,
industrializing, or border regions, with the perception
that these areas have increased opportunity. We find
this phenomenon in the northeastern municipalities
(counties) of Sonora, Mexico. Statistics show that
during the 1980s, the rural agrarian municipalities
experienced sharp declines in population, while the
municipalities subject to foreign industrialization
experienced maintenance or gains in population.
Another requisite of the paradigm is the observance of
no tangible link between the accumulation experienced in
the industrial municipalities and the accumulation of the
contiguous agrarian municipalities. Observations made

during my travels of poor campesinos selling homemade
cheese or small baggies of pinto beans along
superhighways while labor must be imported from other
states for smelter jobs, would tend to support such a
proposition. The statistical record should also show
that while infrastructure is improving in both the
urban/industrial areas, as well as the agrarian regions,
the quality of life for the rural dwellers is in stark
contrast even to the relative squalor of the cities.
While towns such as Bacoachi, a rural village, are just
now receiving improved sewage and fresh water treatment,
these small villages offer a much lower quality of life
represented in terms of earnings per capita, and
nutritional data, than do the urban/industrial areas.
Consistent with the model, the unemployment record
should reflect a rise of un/under-employed rural workers.
Social services statistics should reflect an increase in
claims. This has not been the case. Many of these young
campesinos are finding easy money within the black-market
drug trade which is prevalent in the region. The large
landholders are actually reporting a labor shortage,
necessitating their paying higher wages. The statistical
record also reflects an increase in rural wages, in real
Another drain on labor supply in Mexico is the recent

amnesty for undocumented workers by the United States
Immigration and Naturalization service. A labor
recruiter at the Nacozari smelter reported widespread
movement paid for by his corporation to Nacozari from
Southern states such as San Luis Potosi, Guerrero, and
Durango, only to have these workers flee to the border
and get immediate United States naturalization either
legitimately, or through the extensive black market trade
in falsified papers by American agricultural contractors.
Statistics show a surge in immigration claims in this
region as a direct result of the amnesty program. The
recruiting effort by the Nacozari smelting operation did
provide new jobs for those who stayed.
The capital-intensive industrialization occurring in
the Nacozari region has provided an infusion of
investment in this region. But this large smelting
operation, providing the purest copper in the world,
employs only just over 1,000 workers. The plant is fully
computerized, thus eliminating many jobs. Built with
American and British capital, this smelting operation
sells seventy-five percent of its product to the Swiss,
with most of the rest going to the United States. Little
technology transfer is taking place, leaving little hope
for any start-up industrialization in the region (i.e.
like the technology transfer observed in the oilfields of