At the turn of the 21 century, things started going very badly for Mexico. Of course, it’s not like the country was problem-free before. There was all kinds of bad stuff going on. But there was a definite feeling of things getting better and the country going in a positive direction overall at the end of the twentieth century.
In 2000, when the political party that had been in power for 70 years finally lost an election, there was a great enthusiasm and a confidence that now finally Mexico’s path towards a true, functioning democracy was complete. Mexico is quite unique among Hispanic countries in that it hasn’t had a military dictatorship in over a century but its democracy was always limited in scope by the fact that a single party was always in power. So when a true multi-party system finally arose, it was a big deal.
And then it all went to the dogs.
The new party of power wanted to score big victories fast and adopted a strategy of fighting drug cartels that was very counterproductive and only fed the chaos. The opioid crisis in the US was creating a growing demand for heroin that put more cartels in business. NAFTA was putting great pressure on an economy that wasn’t ready for such an intense plunge into globalization. I know there must be something else, another major factor I’m not seeing right now, but I know it’s there.
Mind you, I don’t in the least think that Mexico is hopeless or anything of the kind. Mexico is strong and will figure it out. Right now is a shitty moment, but this is a country I believe in.