Tesis profesional presentada por Carlos Gabriel Hinojosa Brigham

Licenciatura en Relaciones Internacionales. Departamento de Relaciones Internacionales e Historia. Escuela de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de las Américas Puebla.

Jurado Calificador

Presidente: Dr. José Luis García Aguilar
Vocal y Director: Dr. Marco Aurelio Fernando Carlos Almazán St. Hill
Secretario: Mtro. Antonio Lara Téllez

Cholula, Puebla, México a 13 de mayo de 2005.


A changing international context which involves the birth of new actors and the rooting of ideologies has strongly modified the conditions under which the main traditional actor of international relations functions and is structured. It is becoming increasingly difficult to legitimize the actions and justify the existence of the modern State in its current form within a globalized context that tends to emphasize the supranational over the national and plurality over unity in society.

This phenomenon poses a significant threat to State cohesion and must therefore be dealt with in a form which allows for the existence of differences within national societies without endangering the existence and unity of the State. As opposed to the early stages of State and nation building, when it became crucial to centralize power and increase homogeneity within the country through centralized initiatives in order to consolidate the State, current conditions demand that the State decentralize and allow a wider margin of plurality within society in order to ensure survival.

In response to this legitimacy crisis of the State, many authors have established that the solution lies in the empowerment of local government institutions within national government systems. Local government has taken on a new role in the efforts carried out by States in order to adapt to the changing context they are currently facing. Under this perspective, States become a sum of localities rather that a single unified entity.

The local answer to the question of the State crisis has gained importance in Latin American countries over the last ten years. Several of the most important Latin American States have increased their efforts to promote democracy and effective governance after a long history of military dictatorships and dictatorial regimes. This effort gives strong importance to the role to be played by local governments in governing the countries? communities and have therefore often included decentralizing strategies that transfer power to the local level of government. Municipalities are seen as the breeding grounds for political legitimacy and increased popular participation.

Mexico has not been the exception in Latin America on the issue of decentralization and strengthening of local government. The Mexican municipality known as the municipio has a long history of existence which dates from the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores at the beginning of the sixteenth century. However, for too long, the role of local government in Mexico has been limited to a symbolic figure tied to the control and domination of intermediate and central governments. They have never been given the autonomy and the resources to manage the most important problems faced by their communities. As a result, power and resources remain concentrated in the higher levels of government, which are not necessarily in touch with society?s problems and priorities. Therefore the main argument of this thesis is that the most effective way to overcome and confront the problems that Mexico is facing today is by restructuring government: delegating power, responsibilities and resources from the central government to local governments while reforming and strengthening the latter at the same time.

Table of content

Dedicatorias (archivo pdf, 9 kb)

Introduction (archivo pdf, 26 kb)

Capítulo 1. Local Government: from the creation of the cabildo to the modern day Ayuntamiento (archivo pdf, 65 kb)

  • 1.1 Colonial government and the creation of the cabildo
  • 1.2 The Bourbon Reforms
  • 1.3 The Constitution of Cadiz
  • 1.4 The post-independence period
  • 1.5 Federalism
  • 1.6 The Reform period
  • 1.7 The outcome of the Revoluion
  • 1.8 Local government during the twentieth century
  • 1.9 Local government and decentralization in the last two decades

Capítulo 2. Decentralization: the first step needed to be taken towards strengthening local government (archivo pdf, 57 kb)

  • 2.1 The definition of decentralization and the type of decentralization needed in Mexico
  • 2.2 Decentralization and the Reform of the State in Mexico
  • 2.3 Decentralization and development
  • 2.4 Decentralization and democracy
  • 2.5 The challenges facing decentralization

Capítulo 3. Strengthening local government in Mexico (archivo pdf, 54 kb)

  • 3.1 The advantages of ´the local´
  • 3.2 Local governments and the creation and implementation of public policy
  • 3.3 Mexican local government
  • 3.4 Innovation in Mexican local governance

Capítulo 4. Conclusion (archivo pdf, 38 kb)

Referencias (archivo pdf, 17 kb)

Appendix I. Article 115 of the Mexican Constitution (archivo pdf, 91 kb)

Hinojosa Brigham, C. G. 2005. Decentralization and strengthening of local government in Mexico. Tesis Licenciatura. Relaciones Internacionales. Departamento de Relaciones Internacionales e Historia, Escuela de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de las Américas Puebla. Mayo. Derechos Reservados © 2005.