The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 388
388 Southwestern Historical Quarterly January
ranchers-changed the policy that their authoritarian government and
its superpower neighbor had tried to force upon them.
The negotiation and compromise of foot-and-mouth campaign tactics
provide a dramatic illustration of the ongoing reinterpretation of inter-
national relations. Students of foreign affairs have long fixed on leader-
ship, diplomacy, and national power as the principal determinants of
history, or have used the ideas of dominance or dependency to explain
international relations. But in the last decades we have recognized the
degree to which different publics or interests-many of them from out-
side national capitals or seemingly weak-also mold international behav-
ior, and therefore demand scholars' attention. In the foot-and-mouth
case, resistance to official decisions forced repeated, reciprocal adjust-
ments from all sides, as negotiation between cultures and interests re-
created policy. Residents of remote Guerrero, Michoacin, and Texas
swayed national decisions.
Foot-and-mouth disease, known in Mexico as aftosa, sickens split-
hoofed mammals-cattle, swine, sheep, and goats, as well as deer and
other wild ungulates. In the 1940s it killed 3 to 50 percent of the ani-
mals infected, depending upon the infecting viral strain and upon the
age of the animal. Immature stock died at high rates, but adult animals
usually survived. Infected animals developed sores on their mouths and
between the cloves of their hooves, symptoms that gave the disease its
popular name. Victims lost weight rapidly; observers described hogs as
draped skeletons. The effects of the illness could cause an infected herd
to lose an entire generation, as ill females often aborted or failed to
breed. Mexican farmers found it cost-effective to replace pigs, rather
than wait for them to recuperate. Their recovered cows failed to regain
their pre-aftosa milk-producing ability. The disease typically spread swift-
ly, from animal to animal or by means of contaminated clothing, tools,
even birds and roving dogs. In the 1940s, only a few countries outside of
North America had eradicated this plague-Australia, New Zealand, and
the nations of Central America. Mexico had last fought an outbreak in
1926, the United States in 1929. The cost and highly contagious nature
of the disease had prompted Americans to adopt austere eradication
Thomas G. Paterson suggests the review of global, regional, bilateral, and domestic contexts
as a means to examine foreign relations thoroughly. "Defining and Doing the History of
American Foreign Relations: A Primer," Diplomatzc Hstory, 14 (Summer, 199o), 584-601. See
also Explaining the Hstory of American Forezgn Relations, eds. Michael J. Hogan and Thomas G.
Paterson (Cambridge, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press, 19gg1). Richard White's elaboration of
the "middle ground," the ongoing negotiation between parties who need not and cannot always
dominate each other, has helped me contemplate the negotiation of relations between the U.S.
and Mexico over the issue of foot-and-mouth disease. Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians,
Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, x65o-18x5 (Cambridge, N.Y.: Cambridge
University Press, 1991).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/m1/456/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.