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Don't Disturb the Neighbors: The U.S. and Democracy in Mexico, 1980-1995
Don't Disturb the Neighbors: The U.S. and Democracy in Mexico, 1980-1995
By Jacqueline Mazza
Routledge, 2001, 208 pp

A fascinating study of Mexico's transition to democracy -- and the curious lack of U.S. support for this process -- spanning the years from the Reagan administration through the Mexican peso crisis. From 1980 to 1995, Mexico's sweeping economic change coincided with snail-like political progress toward dismantling one-party rule. Yet Washington never publicly developed a strategy for promoting democracy, and assistance from U.S. agencies remained low-key. Against this background, debates in Congress tended to be highly polarized and oversimplified, concentrating on such divisive issues as drugs, debt management, and trade. Mazza dubs this approach a "don't look, don't tell" policy, which effectively masked the deeper transformations in Mexico. Circumstances have dramatically changed since 1995: Mexico's one-party rule has ended and lively political debate has taken off among Mexico's three main parties. But Mazza reminds the reader that the U.S. attitude toward developments in Mexico is still behind the times. The challenge for the United States is whether it can create fresh approaches to bilateral relations within a more contentious and pluralistic environment.