Population Geography - Mexico and Guatemala
video program features two case studies on countries
in Latin America: Mexico: Motive to Migrate
and Guatemala: Population and Conquest.
The first case study, Mexico: Motive to Migrate,
explores migration both within Mexico and to Mexico's
northern neighbor, the United States. A pattern of departure
from Mexico's Mesa del Norte is apparent from immigration
records. This arid plateau has a poor, agricultural
economic base and a depressed silver mining economy.
Migration to the United States is common among the people
of the rural town of Cedral, located in the heart of
the Mesa del Norte, though many migrants return to their
homelands after a season or a year in the U.S.
But not all migrants in Mexico are headed to the U.S.
The city of Monterrey, the capital of the border state
of Nuevo Leon, has recently experienced a large population
influx, growing from 1.7 million to 2.8 million people
in the past fifteen years. One of the reasons for this
growth is the labor demand created by the expansion
of Mexico's manufacturing industries, or maquiladoras.
are the result of a government program to expand Mexico's
role in international trade. Industries relocate to
Mexico in exchange for tariffs on the value-added portion
of products shipped out of the country. By shipping
the parts of a product to Mexican maquiladoras that
then complete the assembly of the product, foreign companies
are helping to invigorate the economy of the border
the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), migration
patterns in Mexico will once again be altered. One result
of NAFTA will be the end of governmental price supports
for Mexico's agricultural sector. Even as this further
impoverishes farmers in the Mesa del Norte, new opportunities
will arise as the maquiladoras of northern Mexico begin
to locate throughout the north central region, including
the community of Cedral. This will help diversify the
economy of that region, decrease the unemployment rate,
and decrease migration out of the community.
update to this program includes more of Dr. Richard
Jones' research and current trends in Mexican migration,
as well as a wealth of new maps showing migration patterns.
second case study, Guatemala: Population and Conquest,
examines the historical geography of Guatemala. The
country's history of Spanish conquest began in 1524,
when Mayan mountain Indians were subjugated, not for
their land or wealth, but to provide the labor needed
to create and maintain plantations and haciendas. After
Spanish rule was overthrown in 1821, the country lapsed
into a period of political turmoil until 1873 when Justo
Rufino Barrios redistributed the lands of the Roman
Catholic Church and revived the plantation economy.
The Mayan Indians were once again exploited as a source
of labor, this time by international businesses intent
on producing crops such as coffee, sugar, and bananas.
The political status of the Mayans deteriorated as land
ownership became more concentrated, with three percent
of the population controlling two-thirds of the land.
second attempt at land reform in the 1950s led to a
U.S.-backed invasion of Guatemala that overthrew the
liberal-democratic government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman,
touching off a civil war. The country continues to experience
civil unrest, and many historic homelands of the Mayan
Indians are now occupied by the Guatemalan military.
to this case study include new research by Dr. George
Lovell as he revisits the family profiled in the original
program, explores the difficulties the Maya face in
feeding themselves, and examines future population growth
of the Maya people.
Collapse and Boom
of Land Reform