Mexico at the Crossroads

Politics, the Church, and the Poor

Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY (April 1995)
Hardcover, 138 pages, w/ ills, index.
ISBN-10: 1570750181
ISBN-13: 978-1570750182

From the Cover: On New Year’s Day, 1994, the uprising of Indian peasants in Chiapas, Mexico signalled a dramatic new chapter in a long hist­ory that began five hundred years ago. That history involves three major players: the rich and powerful elite, the church, and the poor majority.

In Mexico at the Crossroads, veteran correspondent Michael Tangeman explores the history of interaction between these rival forces in America’s closest neighbor, beginning with the arrival of Spanish conquistadors and missionaries in the sixteenth century, through the era of independence, revolution, and emergence of the modern nation.

Tangeman provides essential background for understanding the current dramatic developments in Mexico, including the Zapatista uprising, the assassination of a leading presidential candidate, the emergence of a vital challenge to the long-governing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), violent debates over the NAFTA Tangeman_CNS_Chiapas_1991_200 agreement and the impact of its neo-liberal program on the rights and welfare of the poor.

Ending with the bitterly contested 1994 elections, Mexico at the Crossroads offers the most up-to-date and comprehensive review available of the unfolding drama in Mexico, its meaning and implications for the future.

“The book that people concerned about the present situation of Liberation Theology and the militant church in Latin America should read… this extraordinary book, through a careful political and religious analysis, gives us the exact picture of where the Roman Catholic church stands today in relation to the poor… Highly recommended reading for anybody whose interest in Liberation Theology exceeds the merely historical accounts.”
~ Marcella Althaus-Reid, University of Edinburgh †

“Tangeman’s timing is perfect. With Bishop Samuel Ruiz of San Cristobal the only link between the Mexican government and the Zapatista rebels, the role of the Church is of extreme importance in the present complicated situation in Mexico. The Church itself, however, is far from monolithic, and this book provides valuable material not elsewhere available about its inner workings.”
~ Gary MacEoin, Author & Activist †

“This is a superb analysis of the Mexican clergy’s struggle to balance their role in the nation’s political crisis, while at the same time adjusting to the demands of an evolving Catholic mission. Tangeman’s book is a must for those who seek to understand the ‘Revolution’ found in ‘Post-Revolution’ Mexico.”
~ Thomas M. Davies, Jr., San Diego State University †

“Provides numerous, revealing portraits of Church-State interactions in the last decade, suggestive of a relationship, and a po­tential political role, undeveloped elsewhere in the extant literature on the Catholic Church. Tangeman’s work is especially useful in exploring the interrelationship between the government, the Church, and the marginal Mexican population.”
~ Roderic Ai Camp, Tulane University

“Tangeman does a masterful job of untangling the shifting relationship of Church and state through five centuries of Mexican history, ones marked by radical swings in political policy, two major revolutions, and a jungle of political intrigue.”
~ Gary Riebe-Estrella, S.V.D., Catholic Theological Union

“Tangeman recounts most of the Mexican church’s history within fifty pages … an amazing feat … His succinct analysis of complex Mexican history is … quite a praiseworthy achievement..”
~ Robert J. Swain, Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture

“Informative and well written … excellent introduction to the subject area. This book would work quite well in a seminar class on contemporary Mexican history, as it gives not only the current state of affairs, but gives a detailed background to the history of the relationship between Mexico and the Catholic Church.”
~ Drew P. Halevy, Humanities and Social Sciences Online