The United States has long misunderstood its neighbor to the south, writes a distinguished Mexican scholar, and the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement has not helped matters. "After years of being perceived largely as a problem for Washington," he argues, "Mexico now became part of the solution: an apparently growing, dynamic, 'emerging' market for U.S. goods and services--especially those unable to penetrate other markets and appeal to other tastes." It earned that vision after a misleading campaign by the Bush and Clinton administrations to portray Mexico as progressive, democratic, and reform-minded, qualities far from the truth. Updating Octavio Paz
's critique of power in Mexico, Castañeda calls for thoroughgoing reforms in the Mexican government, and he offers thoughts on matters like the murder of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio and the inability of the young technocrats who now rule Mexico to replace the old system of one-party rule with democratic institutions. This well-reasoned book of history and current events has excited much discussion, and it deserves our attention.
From Publishers Weekly
One of Mexico's leading progressive critics, Casta?eda (Utopia Unarmed) offers a savvy challenge to his home country's ruling elite and to Americans who believe an economic bailout will salve Mexico's wounds. Mexico, he reminds us, remains far more polarized than its mostly middle-class neighbor, and, as he warned presciently, free trade without attendant democratic and social reforms will not modernize Mexico. Now he advises his comrades not to fight for NAFTA's repeal but to mold it "into an instrument for growth with justice"; that would require the government to help civil society flourish by freeing unions and ending the television monopoly, among other reforms. Casta?eda offers detailed but accessible accounts of the Chiapas crisis, the 1994 elections and the factors contributing to Mexico's December 1994 economic collapse. He believes Mexico is in neither transition nor crisis but a state of slow deterioration. To break out of that, he observes pessimistically, there are no forces?only the institutional power of government?strong enough to steer Mexico on a new course.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the