Three Decades of Neoliberalism in Mexico: The Destruction of Society

Asa Cristina Laurell

Neoliberalism has been implemented in Latin America for about three decades. This article reviews Mexico’s neoliberal trajectory to illustrate the political, economic, and social alterations that have resulted from this process. It finds that representative democracy has been perverted through fear, putting central political decisions in the hands of power groups with special interests. The border between the state of law and the state of exception is blurred. Economic structural adjustment with liberalization and privatization has provoked recurrent crisis, but has been maintained, leading to the destruction of the national productive structure in favor of supranational corporations, particularly financial capital. The association between criminal economy and economic criminality is also discussed. The privatization of social benefits and services requires state subsidies and allows the privatization of profits and the socialization of losses. The social impact of this process has been devastating, with a polarized income distribution, falling wages, increased precarious jobs, rising inequality, and extreme violence. Health conditions have also deteriorated and disorders associated with violence, chronic stress, and a changing nutritional culture have become dominating. However, in Latin America, massive, organized political and social mobilization has broken the vicious neoliberal circle and elected progressive governments that are struggling to reverse social and economic devastation.

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