A Mexican "Progressive Era"? Service Clubs and Reformism in Post-Revolutionary Mexico

David Tamayo

This paper asks: how did Mexican businessmen, professionals, and white-collar workers outside of party structures engage with the post-revolutionary regime? I argue that, in the absence of a truly effective middle-class organization, the US-imported service clubs (such as the Rotary and Lions clubs) provided a crucial avenue for this part of civil society to establish a dialogue with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), from the 1930s to the 1960s. I provide three examples in which service clubs from Monterrey, Puebla, and Morelia formed coalitions with other civic groups and negotiated, collaborated, or challenged official state policy. This paper shows that service clubs provided an important political escape valve for the middle classes and inadvertently contributed toward the longevity of the PRI.