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Developing?

29 July 2014

I still hear  people call Mexico a “third world country” (which means it is neither in the Warsaw Pact or Nato alliance… something meaningless since the fall of the Berlin Wall) under the mistaken impression it means an “undeveloped” country.  A few more sophisticated, uninformed types call it “developing”… which I suppose means I country that hasn’t bought into rampant consumerism completely, but is getting there.

While Mexico did walk a fine line between the pro-Soviet and pro-U.S. nations (rather gingerly, being far from God, and close to the United States), it’s hardly “developing” having had an urban consumer culture for a couple of millenia now, and has been manufacturing goods for export since the 18th century.  OK, so there wasn’t a lot of heavy industry until the late 19th century, but isn’t it about time we retired those retro and misleading terms when talking about Mexico?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Christopher Kellogg permalink
    30 July 2014 6:55 am

    Does Latin America mean Hispanic America? I would interject that Mexico does not produce the majority of manufactured goods when Brazil is included.

  2. 30 July 2014 9:49 am

    There are lies, damned lies and statistics, so you may be right, and the original source might be stretching things. But with so many Mexican goods sold in the US, that are marked as “Made in USA” beause some part of the process was done in the U.S., this may be correct. Add in the non-NAFTA imports that are assembled in Mexico (computers, for example, with Malaysian and Chinese parts) and it’s hard to say what’s made anywhere anymore..

    “Latin America” is a loose term too… sometines keeping the original meaning the parts of the Americas with a Roman Catholic culture and a Romance language (which includes Quebec), sometimes everything in the western hemispehere below the Rio Grande (including Suriname and Belize), sometimes the Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries, and sometimes just the Spanish-speaking ones.

    Point is, Mexico is hardly a bit player in the world economy… it just gets overlooked. Unlike Brazil (which always had imperial ambitions… it was a European style monarchy up until the 1880s and lauched several wars of conquest), Mexico just never had much interest in making a splash in the wider world.

  3. Tony White permalink
    4 September 2014 3:40 pm

    While undeveloped or underdeveloped are terms from the past, and implied that countries so labeled were inferior, not just economically, but also culturally. Developing means replacing traditional raw material production with manufacturing. More recently, the emerging markets term was created to describe countries like Brazil, Mexico, India and China, but obviously we need a new terminology in order to be more precise or accurate.

    A country may also have a large manufacturing sector, but that the bulk of the investment and management is foreign, and the profits go to the home office located abroad. The reality, therefore, is that the investment decisions are not controlled by local operators, but by the parent company, and that the manufacturing process may be suddenly moved offshore to a country with lower taxes, lower wages and fewer regulations. That given, the developing or emerging country is dominated by foreign economic interests, amounting to another form of colonialism. With globalization, this has become more common for former “developed” nations.

    Even with urbanization and the acquisition of consumer values, if the bulk of the work force is still engaged in agriculture or domestic labor, or is dependent upon tourism, and a high percentage lives in poverty, the country does not qualify as developed. On the other hand, the vast income and wealth inequality today is not limited to developing countries, but is shared in the richest and most developed of countries.

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