THE MEXICAN SHOCK by Jorge G. Castañeda


Its Meaning for the U.S.
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 The US has persistently misunderstood its neighbor to the south, writes distinguished Mexican political scientist Casta§eda (Utopia Unarmed, 1993), and that misunderstanding is a dangerous thing. With the realization of NAFTA, the author provocatively suggests, ``after years of being perceived largely as a problem for Washington, 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, Casta§eda writes, thanks to a misleading campaign by the Bush and Clinton administrations to portray Mexico as progressive, democratic, and reform-minded, qualities that far from distinguish the present Mexican system of rule. Updating Octavio Paz's critique of power in Mexico, Casta§eda calls for thoroughgoing reforms in the Mexican government. Hailing the Zapatista revolutionaries as heroes in the struggle to bring democracy to Mexico, he offers extended discussions of matters like the murder of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio and the inherent inability of the young technocrats who now rule Mexico to dismantle the obsolete old system and replace it with democratic institutions. Casta§eda is especially provocative when writing of thorny problems like illegal immigration, which has long conditioned the American dialogue with Mexico. He argues that one solution to the problem of disenfranchisement brought about by such backward-moving legislation as California's Proposition 187 is to extend citizenship and voting rights to illegal aliens, recognizing that the problem of mass migration is unlikely to end so long as radical inequalities exist between the US and Mexico--inequalities that NAFTA, as it is now constructed, does nothing to solve. This well-reasoned book should excite much discussion among policymakers on both sides of the border, who owe it a close reading.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-56584-311-8
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: The New Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1995


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