Traditionally, business interests in Mexico are driven by government policies and interests. In addition to participation of individual businessmen in politics, many business groups are represented in government agencies and commissions. There has always been a close connection between the business community and the different economic cabinets. The most influential of all business associations is the Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce (Confederación de Cámaras Nacionales de Comercio--Concanaco). The Confederation of Chambers of Industry (Confederación de Cámaras de Industria--Concamin) serves as the umbrella organization for industrial associations. There is also the National Chamber of Manufacturing Industries (Cámara Nacional de la Industria de la Transformación--Canacintra), which historically has represented small and medium-sized businesses. A sharp distinction exists between small and big business in Mexican politics. Although technically these organizations are not integrated into a particular political party, contributions of big business go first to the PRI to reward government policies that benefit big business and to make sure that such policies continue. According to PRI Finance Secretary Oscar Espinoza Villareal, the Mexican private sector contributed between 54 and 67 billion new pesos (for value of the new peso--see Glossary) to the campaigns of government party candidates for the August 1994 elections.
Business associations such as Concanaco play an active role in government policy debates. Most of the business sector currently supports the reduction of trade barriers, liberal economic policies, and conservative labor legislation. The success of the liberal policies launched during the Salinas sexenio greatly benefited the Mexican private sector. Thus, relations between the business community and the PRI improved significantly. A clear example of the improved relationship was a well-publicized gathering held in February 1993, when thirty of Mexico's multimillionaires pledged an average US$25 million each in support of the 1994 PRI election campaign. At the fund-raising dinner, television baron Emilio Azcarrago, considered the richest man in Latin America, pledged US$70 million to the government's party "in gratitude" for his prosperity during the Salinas administration. The great disparity in funding between the PRI and the opposition during the 1994 electoral race was clearly attributable to generous contributions from domestic private enterprises to the PRI.
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