The Journal of San Diego History
Fall 1973, Volume 19, Number 4
Cover: Morning on the Bay by Alfred Mitchell


David J. Weber, Book Review Editor

Power and Conflict in a Mexican Community. By Antonio Ugalde. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1970. Bibliography. Illustrations. Index. Maps. 193 pages. $10.00.

Reviewed by L. Vincent Padgett and John C. Tosello. Dr. Padgett, Professor, Department of Political Science, San Diego State University, is the author of The Mexican Political System, Houghton-Mifflin, 1966, and several articles in professional journals. John Tosello is a graduate student at San Diego State University.

Antonio Ugalde, in his study of Ensenada, Baja California, has captured the flavor of local institutions while describing the management of conflict in both formal and informal aspects at the local, state and national levels. Empirical research at the local level is most welcome, and Ugalde has contributed much information and many cogent and astute observations.

The author’s work could have been even more helpful, however. For example, the framework does not carry through and fit with the author’s conclusions as well as we had hoped. Regarding the concluding remarks we feel a certain lack in that the author does not seem to convey as clearly as he could have done the things he believes he has learned from his study and what he wants others to know. That is, we had expected his final statement would connect several leading concerns such as the occurence [sic] of electoral fraud, one-party dominance, centralization of function and dominant executive with the problem of satisfying increasing demands:

…the viability of the present political system and its increasing democratization seem to be contingent on the possibility of the regime’s reducing the system of political patronage without destroying itself.

Another difficulty, it seems to us, is the author’s emphasis on the reduction of class tensions through the institutionalization of conflict. This is especially evident in the description of interrelationships between labor, management, government bureaucracy and the PRI. As it is, the material on political orientations in the community of Ensenada might have been more useful if there had been some clearer indications as to why demands have been successfully kept at a minimum while real wages have decreased. This oversight obscures the problem of conflict and class tension as related to political stability and it avoids the question of whether conflict might better serve to alleviate the immense disproportions in wealth. This is, of course, a matter of value bias.

Finally, it is diffiuclt [sic] to know what to do with Ugalde’s presentation of Ensenada as both atypical and typical in the Mexican system. The advanced economy is atypical as is the local composition of the important National Confederation Popular Organizations (CNOP), and the strength of the major opposition party PAN. Nevertheless, despite these outstanding differences the reader is told that Ensenada is a precursor of future developments throughout Mexico. We feel we have not been adequately informed as to the basis of this judgement [sic].

Critics should keep in mind that Ugalde’s Power and Conflict in a Mexican Community did not have the advantage of experienced co-authorship as in the case of Politics and Privilege in a Mexican Cityby Fagen and Tuohy (Standord: 72). This is a first book by a young scholar, and it presents a good deal of useful information. Various publics will find his work of value, including businessmen, students, and sojourners in Baja California.