The Mexican Shock: Its Meaning for the United States

As is to be expected from CastaZeda, his latest collection of essays provides many useful insights into the central problem facing Mexico today: its agonizingly delayed and at times murderous and labyrinthine process of democratization. Before the peso crisis of December 1994, the shock referred to in his book's title, CastaZeda was one of the few experts to question the promotion of free markets and free trade promoted as the cure-all for Mexico's historical underdevelopment and cyclical crises. But unlike his previous book, on the impact of the end of the Cold War on the Latin American left, a highly original and elaborated text, here he has chosen to recycle previously published materials and does not really delve into the peso crisis and its consequences for Mexico to any serious degree. It is characteristic of this disappointing book that CastaZeda begins with a reprint of his critique of American democracy, the "electoral apartheid" to which he believes Mexican immigrants in California are consigned. A better starting point would have been a dissection of Mexican authoritarianism and the prospects for democratic reform in the face of economic contraction, disillusionment, and political uncertainty.

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