An alternately helpful and debatable effort, by three analysts at the Inter-Hemispheric Education Resource Center in New Mexico, to elucidate the relationship between the United States and Mexico in the 1990s. The helpfulness resides in the sheer accumulation of factual material on a subject of increasing significance. The book is divided into four parts. The first is a close-up of the border region, ``a metaphor for the economic future of America,'' and the allied subjects of immigration, drugs (many of which come from or are funneled through Mexico to the US), and the maquila industry, which now numbers 2,000 companies. The second section considers environmental issues and is one of the better assessments of the extent of that problem. The third and fourth cover, respectively, economic and official relations between the two countries. Debate will arise because the authors sharply disagree with conventional economic belief in the advantages of free trade—the view of the Bush and the Clinton administrations, the Salinas government, and most official and unofficial commentators on both sides of the border—without providing anything persuasive in its place. They discern in both the US and Mexico ``falling real incomes, sharply increased poverty rates, rising long-term unemployment, widening gaps between rich and poor, infrastructure decay, and environmental deterioration'' and believe that ``global frameworks like GATT threaten to spread these...deficiencies throughout...the world.'' Rather unconvincingly, they suggest the solution to these problems is ``democratization of the decision-making process, compensatory financing, legal normative frameworks, and institutional innovations,'' while denying that these measures will create ``a welter of new institutions, laws, regulations, and bureaucracies.'' A useful compendium of important facts and issues confronting both countries; a less than convincing formula for their resolution.
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