In This Review

Myths and (Mis)Perceptions: Changing U.S. Elite Visions of Mexico
Myths and (Mis)Perceptions: Changing U.S. Elite Visions of Mexico
By Sergio Aguayo
Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, 1998, 423 pp

Aguayo, a leading Mexican columnist and foreign affairs specialist, has produced a critical account of the ways U.S. Officials, scholars, and journalists have written about Mexico since World War II. Using an impressive selection of sources, Aguayo argues that a critical factor underlying the hardy resilience of the Mexican regime was the equally resilient backing of U.S. elites. Despite the nationalist rhetoric of its southern neighbor, the United States understood that the Mexican ruling class knew which side it was on in the Cold War and supported Mexico's authoritarian rule to keep instability at bay along the border. Aguayo takes U.S. experts to task for creating the myth that Mexico was too difficult to understand because its citizens were uncommunicative with outsiders. Instead, he blames U.S. Observers for failing to grasp the inner workings of the Mexican private sector and the Mexican state's coercive apparatus. And he is most struck by the lack of interest among U.S. specialists in the U.S.-Mexican relationship, which he sees as preventing a fresh interpretation of Mexican history of the past four decades.