Don't Disturb the Neighbors: The United States and Democracy in Mexico, 1980-1995

Don't Disturb the Neighbors: The United States and Democracy in Mexico, 1980-1995

Don't Disturb the Neighbors: The United States and Democracy in Mexico, 1980-1995

Don't Disturb the Neighbors: The United States and Democracy in Mexico, 1980-1995

Synopsis

Offering often surprising insights into US foreign policy, this book is the first comprehensive analysis of public statements and actions regarding democracy in Mexico. Spanning the years from the Central American crisis of the Reagan administration through the 1995 Mexican peso crisis, Mazza uses revealing interviews with many of the leading US policy officials to probe beneath the surface of U.S. foreign policy and question the set of aging, unexamined assumptions under which it operates.

Excerpt

Today it is commonplace to hear that the promotion of democracy abroad is one of the fundamental principles of U.S. post-Cold War foreign policy. Supporting democracy has become the explicit rationale behind key diplomatic and military actions and an extensive program of international assistance. Much of what has been written about U.S. policy looks at those instances when the United States has been explicit about its pro-democracy objectives: for example, when the United States publicly condemns fraudulent elections (e.g., in the Philippines and Panama), leads a multilateral force to reinstall a democratically elected leader (e.g., Haiti), or supports a pro-democracy referendum (e.g., Chile). What interested me, however, were those cases when U.S. policy has not been so explicit. How does this universal U.S. goal apply more broadly in practice? How, or does it, apply to countries in which the United States has compelling economic, political, and security interests, interests that might not always coincide with greater democracy.

This is a book about one such case. For most of the contemporary history between the United States and Mexico, democracy has been a relatively minor issue in bilateral relations. Mexico has long been considered a country where inherent sensitivities to U.S. influence and a complex range of interests, including concern for internal stability, have rendered U.S. support for democracy in Mexico difficult to detect.

Trying to understand how U.S. policy functions without the standard pieces of evidence-a big aid program, a major foreign policy action, or even major speeches-is a bit like being a blindfolded detective. It is much harder to decipher a policy for which the written record is sparse and about which policymakers are reticent to discuss. Change is more likely in the near future with the inauguration of Mexico's first opposi-

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