THE LIMITS TO FRIENDSHIP: The United States and Mexico by Robert A. & Jorge G. Castaneda Pastor

THE LIMITS TO FRIENDSHIP: The United States and Mexico

Email this review


Here, the former National Security desk chief on Latin America for Pres. Carter (Pastor, author of Condemned to Repetition: The United States and Nicaragua) and a Mexican scholar-journalist (Castaneda) express the perspectives of their respective nations on a range of binational issues, and provide much insight into the cross-cultural communications problems inherent in foreign diplomacy. ""Americans are the quintessential problem solvers, and they view Mexico as a perennial problem,"" says Pastor. No wonder, then, that Mexicans are often unhappy to be the focus of our attention: American interest too often leads to threats to Mexican sovereignty. The alternating chapters by Pastor and Castaneda can be read not only for analysis of policies regarding drugs, immigration, foreign policy, and economics, but also for what the style of the arguments reveals. Pastor often relies on humorous anecdote to make the American point of view seem sensible; Castaneda is usually more intellectual and analytical, hiding intransigence behind carefully structured argument. Pastor is both impatient with Mexico and optimistic about progress; he cites the maquiladora program (in which Mexican workers assemble products for American companies) for aiding the Mexican economy, while Castaneda points out the limited economic benefit and problems that Americans ignore: by hiring mostly young single women and making them financially independent at a time when unemployment is rampant among men, the program has seriously disrupted the social fabric. Pastor criticizes Mexican ambassadors for taking a passive approach to Washington politics, ignoring use of the media, and operating only through bureaucratic State Department channels; Castaneda complains that American ambassadors to Mexico meet with potential power brokers both within and outside the government and interfere in internal affairs. In the section on drugs, the authors contradict not only each other's interpretations, but some of each other's facts. An unusual and thought-provoking look at US-Mexican affairs--requiring reader interest but minimal prior knowledge--with implications for American diplomacy in general.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1988
Publisher: Knopf