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Volume 65 / Social Sciences

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA


ANDREW D. SELEE, Director, Mexico Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

ONE OF THE MOST NOTABLE FEATURES of this review period is a series of books and articles that analyze Mexico's foreign policy in a comprehensive way and look for alternatives for the future. This focused research is a natural outgrowth of Mexico's transition to democracy and the need to develop a new consensus around foreign policy in a multiparty system. An excellent starting point is the collection edited by Schiavon, Spenser and Vázquez Olivera, which provides both historical context and current debates (item #bi2008001972#). The volumes edited by Herrera-Lasso (item #bi2008001988#) and Navarrete (item #bi2008001976#) along with Pellicer de Brody's contribution (item #bi2008001971#) provide analysis from scholars and diplomats involved in the debates around Mexico's foreign policy.

Several highly original contributions on Mexico's relationship with the US were recently published. An excellent starting point is Meyer's masterful article on the development of Mexico's defensive nationalism vis-à-vis the US (item #bi2008001346#). Aguayo's Almanaque México-Estados Unidos is a particularly useful source of information on the nature of the relationship between the two countries (item #bi2008001978#). Contreras' book (now available in both Spanish and English) is an insightful account of US influence in Mexico, though it often veers into the anecdotal (item #bi2008001969#). Laveaga's essay on the US Congress provides a practical way of understanding congressional influence on the complex relationship between the two countries (item #bi2007005124#).

Several excellent works address the US-Mexico border, including the truly comprehensive work by Anderson and Gerber which looks at both the integration and the inequalities of the border region (item #bi2009004122#), and a companion article by Anderson (item #bi2006002005#). Mendoza's article suggests that NAFTA has had different impacts at the border than elsewhere in Mexico, a useful contribution to understanding border economics (item #bi2009004636#). Edited volumes by Payán Alvarado and Tabuenca Córdoba (item #bi2008001985#) and Flores and Peña Medina (item #bi2008001994#) provide useful analyses of regional debates on cross-border integration and cooperation.

The book by Ramos García examines the way security cooperation at the border has changed after 9/11 (item #bi2008001974#). His edited volume with Woo Morales looks more broadly at how Mexico, the US, and Canada are rethinking national security after 9/11 (item #bi2008001987#). An article by Gabriel, Jimenez, and MacDonald explores the reasons why security regimes have developed differently along the Canada-US and Mexico-US borders (item #bi2008001350#).

Several works of varying quality look at Mexico and Central America's increasing economic integration with the US. Golob provides a theoretically sophisticated analysis of how the Mexican government overcame domestic resistance to negotiate NAFTA, while Dombois explores the very uneven performance of the labor side agreement (items #bi2007002315# and #bi2008000933#, respectively). Furthermore, Saxe-Fernández decries Mexico's submission to US capital (item #bi2008001973#). Contributions by Fumero Paniagua, Rodríguez Holkemeyer, and Flórez-Estrada and Hernández explore the implications of the Central American Free Trade Agreement on Costa Rica (items #bi2008001990#, #bi2008001996#, and #bi2008001982#, respectively). A particularly useful work, published by Comex, looks at the integration between Costa Rica and Mexico since the implementation of their free trade agreement (item #bi2008001984#).

A growing body of work on Mexico's relationships with Latin America, Asia, and Africa appears here. A well-written book by Tello Díaz (item #bi2008001993#) and two academically grounded articles by Velázquez Flores and Sánchez Ramírez (items #bi2007004066# and #bi2008001190#) examine Mexico's important but increasingly conflicted relationship with Cuba. Muñoz chronicles Mexico's relationship with the Caribbean as an often forgotten third border (#bi2008001555#). Two interesting articles by López Villafañe and Zeraoui trace Mexico's relationship with China and the Magreb, northern Africa, respectively (items #bi2008001220# and #bi2007000387#).

Some useful historical analyses of Mexico and Central America's relationship with Europe and Brazil were reviewed here. Domínguez Ávila probes the history of Brazil's influence in Central America (item #bi2008001101#). Meanwhile, Codero Olivero and González Ibarra examine Mexico's complicated relationship with Franco's Spain (items #bi2008001989# and #bi2008001983#), while Ojeda Revah addresses Mexico's support for the Republican government of Spain in the context of great power politics before World War II (item #bi2008000934#).

Finally, two works trace important issues in Central America's evolving peace process. Zamora addresses the US role in blocking the Esquilipas and Contadora peace processes, while Saxon tells a personal story about the disappearance of his wife, a human rights advocate, in a book that sheds light on the difficulties of consolidating peace in the region (items #bi2008001995# and #bi2007003332#, respectively).


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