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MEXICO: Globalization

Tim Brown comments on the postings based on articles from a Mexican border newspaper sent to me by Jaqui White:

"I just returned from a week in Mexico City among my PRD friends. Cuauhtemoc Cardenas wrote the foreword for my new book "When the AK-47s Fall Silent", and I spent almost all my time with his supporters of the hard left.

The PRD is split between this hard left wing, which still clings to the rhetorical "hypernacionalismo" reflected in the articles. But those politically closest to Cardenas all accept [with varying degrees of enthusiam] that globalization is with us to stay. During the campaign Cardenas publicly rejected the sort of traditional Mexican isolationism which these articles display. He accepted as realities NAFTA, free trade, globalization and so forth. Cuauhtemoc gave me an exlusive interview during the electoral period precisely so he could publicly distance himself from the anti-NAFTA and clearly anti-American attitudes of his own left. I then published his views on these subjects in the Washington Times.

The reality is that all of Mexico is now essentially part of NAFTA, and Cardenas and his key aides understand this perfectly. Further, the maquiladora industry has not been a border-only phenomenon for several years. Instead it has largely moved off the border into the interior Guadalajara, Puebla, and so forth. By and large what remains on the border is that portion of the industry know as twin-plants: a plant on the Mexican side of the border is paired with a plant on the US side of the border in a given production process because it is efficient to do so.

As to free trade, it is in fact quite popular in Mexico outside leftist circles, and the more popular it becomes the angrier the left gets. Their important but minority view of the process is then blown out of proportion by the combined radicalism and sensationalism of the press, which in large part is dominated by the left, and echoes among left-liberals in the US.

It's fine to take into consideration such negative articles as those cited, or even to believe they are centrist and not radical. But to accept them as representative is to be misled.

My comment: We must always be cautious when a Latin American politician speaks to a foreigner. Just before the departure of Fujimori from Peru, leftist hopeful Alejandro Toledo was in Madrid assuring Spanish capitalists that their investments would be safe under his presidency. Did that mean his belief in old-fashioned capitalism of was he trimming his sails to the wind of reality?

Ronald Hilton - 11/27/00