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Twenty years after the North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect, the deal has brought neither the huge gains its proponents promised nor the dramatic losses its adversaries warned of. For Mexico, NAFTA did increase exports, but its impact on spurring economic growth and creating jobs has been less clear-cut.
At first, Mexico's recent presidential election looked unpromising: the PRI, the country's long-dominant party, crept back into office, but with only 38 percent of the vote and no majority in Congress. Yet the campaign revealed just how much Mexicans actually agree on, and the new government is likely to pass long-overdue reforms.
Mañana Forever is brimming with lively observations on all things Mexico.
Former Mexican Foreign Secretary Dr. Jorge Castañeda and former Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Mr. Robert Bonner discuss the consequences of Mexico's drug war and the policy options facing Mexican and U.S. officials.
Former Mexican Foreign Secretary Dr. Jorge Castañeda and former Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Mr. Robert Bonner discuss the options and consequences facing Mexican and U.S. officials. Foreign Affairs magazine hosted this event on September 29, 2010 at the Council on Foreign Relations.
The world’s leading international institutions may be outmoded, but Brazil, China, India, and South Africa are not ready to join the helm. Their shaky commitment to democracy, human rights, nuclear nonproliferation, and environmental protection would only weaken the international system’s core values.
The key to a successful foreign policy in Latin America will be focusing on four critical issues -- Cuba, immigration, trade, and the "two lefts".
With all the talk of Latin America's turn to the left, few have noticed that there are really two lefts in the region. One has radical roots but is now open-minded and modern; the other is close-minded and stridently populist. Rather than fretting over the left's rise in general, the rest of the world should focus on fostering the former rather than the latter -- because it is exactly what Latin America needs.
The September 11 attacks led the United States to replace its previous engaged and enlightened approach to Latin American relations with a total focus on security matters. This pullback has undermined recent regional progress on economic reform and democratization. To meet the pressing challenges ahead, Latin America needs the United States to be a committed partner.
Mexico has suffered through four major crises in the past two decades, but the current round, triggered by the 1994 collapse of the peso, is the most serious. Although Mexico will avoid a social explosion, it will not embark on the thorough reform it desperately needs. The reason: a large, broad minority that depends on the United States and is mainly indifferent to their country's ups and downs, economic and political. Successive American bailouts have spared Mexicans some pain but have also locked in misguided policies and an authoritarian government. Until bold new leaders arise, Mexico is condemned to repeat its sad history.
The Salinas regime has ardently pursued the North American Free Trade Agreement as a silver bullet to kill myriad political and economic problems. But NAFTA as it stands would exacerbate many of Mexico's enduring disparities and injustices. Short term adjustment costs and the possibility of backsliding on political reform have largely been overlooked. NAFTA must be designed to contribute to political reform. Otherwise, postponing the accord would not weaken Mexico-only Salinas.
Mexico's famed political stability has not been destroyed by the country's current economic crisis. But that stability can no longer be taken for granted. Over the past half-century, the Mexican political system has brought economic development, albeit unjustly distributed, inefficiently planned and plagued with waste and corruption. It has ensured social peace and political continuity, although with recurrent repression and electoral fraud. And it has maintained peaceful relations with the United States, despite asymmetries, irritants and sporadic confrontations. These three pillars of Mexico's stability, which is unique in Latin America, are not yet crumbling, but all are growing weaker, as is the political system they sustain.