Us Mexico Relations Essay, Research Paper
?Poor Mexico, so far from God, and so close to the United States.?
Mexico is one of the most populated and industrialized of the third world nations, yet it remains very impoverished in comparison to it?s northern neighbor. Recently Mexico has been the third largest trading partner of the United States, has become an important exporter of petroleum and plays a pivotal role in the politics of the region. Yet Mexico is frequently treated with neglect and misunderstanding by the United States. This treatment is why Mexico is hesitant about United States influence and investment in Mexico. While many foreign countries acknowledge the United States as a protectorate and a blessing, Mexico sees the United States as a problematic source. The idea of the United States overshadowing Mexico was best stated in Pofirio Diaz?s famous quote. From the Pofiriato up until today Mexico is still in the shadows of the United States; but with the creation of NAFTA the intentional distance between the United States and Mexico has begun to close.
Pofirio Diaz?s quote is a good representation of Mexican sentiments towards its northern neighbors. In his quote he makes a comparison between being far from God and close to the United States. While this quote probably had the intensions of being used to portray the point that Mexico is close to the United States and is overshadowed by them,
it adds the contrast of being far from God. While the reference to God is representative of good, then in contrast, the United States can be interpreted as an evil. During the Pofiriato when this quote was said, Mexico was trying to become more modernized by opening their economy to foreign investment. Even though Mexico wanted United States investment, they were hesitant about the negative repercussions that would follow from the American investors. Another reason that Mexico feels that their close proximity to the United States can be considered negative is that it is difficult having a three thousand mile border with one of the most powerful and industrialized nations in the world. Mexico is in the shadows of the United States. During the time of the Pofiriato the West in the United States was developing, technology was expanding and their importance on the global scene was increasing. Mexico wanted to be able to follow the United States in some of these aspects. Pofirio Diaz believed that if Mexico was to obtain foreign investment, they would have to portray an image of prosperity and peace. In order to display this desired image Diaz would spend exorbitant amounts of money on buildings so that other nations would see this growthand becp,e confident in Mexico?s potential for investment. To obtain this image, Diaz silenced the people in Mexico and ruled as a dictator. This image of Diaz can be observed in the film Viva Zapata.
During the Pofiriato Mexico wanted to become more modernized and to do so, Pofirio Diaz wanted foreign investment. A lot of the investment came from
entrepreneurs in the United States. Mexico wanted foreign companies to come to Mexico and develop their resources; in result nearly all the land was privately owned. This is one reason that Mexico feels hesitant towards the United States. The land in Mexico was monopolistic with heavy foreign ownership and domination; Mexico literally ?didn?t even own itself.? This heavy foreign investment reduced the income of the middle and working classes in Mexico, which were created during the Porfiriato. Inflation climbed higher and higher. Increased taxation was necessary by the government to fill the void left by inflation and exemptions designed to encourage foreign investment. In other words, Mexico?s people were being thoroughly ?ripped off? so-to-speak, by foreigners. (Gil)
One example of a large American investment in Mexico was in the railroad system. In Mexico it was debated whether or not to invite foreign money to help Mexico modernize. The argument maintained that if money from abroad controlled the railroad system, the national economy could be dominated by another nation. Though the Mexican government contributed as much money as it could to railroad building, foreign money provided the majority of capital and the railroad companies were almost totally foreign-owned. Entrepreneurs in the United States held approximately 80 percent of Mexico’s railroad stock. (Gil)
The Significance of the Frontier in American History, delivered in 1893 by Frederick Jackson Turner emphasized, among other things, that the rigors of the American West and westward migration gave the United States its unique personality and character. Diaz thus sought to create a similar culture and mythology for Mexico. Since the Indian Wars were a part of this period in American history, Porfirio Di?z also sought to replicate this situation in Mexico. He thus prosecuted the Yaqui Wars beginning in the 1880s, which continued through the 1920s, the benefits of which yielded new lands for expansion and foreign exploitation.
These events led Mexicans to distrust the United States and created a feeling of inferiority and began to dislike their three thousand mile border with the United States. A prominent writer about Mexican domestic politics and North American free trade, M Delal Baer, spoke to Congress about Mexican views towards the United States. She stated that ?Mexico viewed the United States as its greatest natural enemy, an attitude summed up in the famous saying ?Poor Mexico, so far from God, and so close to the United States.? The U.S., from its lofty perch of superpower status, did not do a great deal to alleviate Mexico?s concerns. U.S, attitudes ranged from benign neglect to arrogant unilateralism?the principal goal of the Mexican diplomacy for much of the 20th century was to keep the U.S. at arms length and to demonstrate its independence by opposing U.S. objectives.? Mexico tried to keep a large distance from the United States and at
times clearly opposed the U.S. on many issues. Mexico felt like it was necessary to take these precautions against the United States in order to keep it self free from U.S. intervention.(Baer)
Until recently, the distrust that Mexicans held towards the United States had been in a stagnate position. In the early 1990?s talks of a free trade between the North American countries caused much debate in both the United States and Mexico. In the United States, Congressmen, journalists and politicians argued that having a free trade agreement with Mexico would cause many negative repercussions. These negative repercussions were fabrications that showed how Americans thought they were superior to the Mexicans. While in Mexico, there was a split in feelings about letting the United States in the Mexican affairs. The older generation had reservations about Mexico involving itself with the United States, while the younger generation thought it would be very beneficial to Mexico to become trading partners with the United States.
The older generation in Mexico is well represented by the former Mexican ambassador to the United States, Jose Juan de Olloqui. He still thinks of the ?the northern neighbors as our natural enemy? who have always determined when to declare war, sign the peace and, frankly, a goodly part of our bilateral agenda.? He viewed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with much concern. He believes that the United States is one of Mexico?s best customers, but Mexico should also balance their
relationships with other nations and find other alternatives. In conclusion, he states that ?Mexico must attempt to make the best of two worlds in its relations with the United States: it needs autonomy to make decisions based on ties own national interests aw well as the ability to increase the benefits from its geographical proximity to the world?s most powerful country.? (de Olloqui)
This past July President-elect Vicente Fox had an interview that showed his perception of NAFTA. His perceptions are more along the lines of the younger generation that feels that these relations with the United States are necessary. He feels the border that Mexico shares with the United States is ?a great opportunity.? He referred to the United States as and ally and stated that he wants Mexico to ?build a great relationship with the United States.? The article goes on to note how Fox?s position towards the United States is a change from the traditional Mexican views. ?The embrace of the cross-border relationship is a break from the often-prickly stance of past Mexican governments, most famously stated long ago by former dictator Porfirio Diaz: ?Poor Mexico, so far from God, and so close to the United States.?(Rice) Another view that embodies the thoughts of the younger generation in Mexico is presented by Roberto Salinas-Leon, who is an academic director of the Center for Free Enterprise Research, Mexico City. He feels that ?NAFTA is a priceless window of opportunity that we cannot afford to have closed.? (Salinas-Leon)
In the United States, there was also debate about relations with Mexico. Many Americans were derogative towards Mexico, showing no interest in the benefits that could come with NAFTA. Many myths about the repercussions of NAFTA surfaced. A few of these myths were: NAFTA will cause massive unemployment as a result of jobs relocating into Mexico, the Mexican consumer market is too depressed to benefit the U.S. external sector, and U.S. companies will relocate south of the border because of lax environmental laws causing ecological deterioration. These myths and others were heavily debated when NAFTA was proposed.
There were many political cartoons at the time that showed the debates about NAFTA. In the first political cartoon (Figure 1), there is a debate between a squirrel and a parrot. In the cartoon, the squirrel is talking and contradicts himself and then gets mad at the parrot for interrupting when the parrot has not said a word. This shows that the Americans were first against NAFTA and calling it an unwise and foolish decision to make, but then the squirrel changes his mind and realizes that it is a good idea and he believes in the concept. During this time, the initial reaction by the Americans was against the idea of NAFTA because of their feelings of superiority. But they knew that it would be beneficial for our nation, thus having a contradictory stance on the issue.
In the carton from This Modern World (Figure 2), the cartoonist is showing many issues that were brought up during NAFTA debates. In the first slide of the cartoon, there is a debate between two men. Their comments show the exaggerations that Americans used when referring to NAFTA. Some of the comments are for the implantation of NAFTA while others a strongly against the idea. In the second slide, there is a quote made from an actual debate. This quote is meant to show the bizarre comments that were suggested during the debate. These different quotes show how Americans dislike the idea of NAFTA because of the lack of confidence in Mexico?s potential economically. The main point of this cartoon was to show the indecisiveness of Americans towards NAFTA during the early 1990?s. Most of the confrontation about NAFTA was due to lack of education about the issue and stereotypical ideas of Mexico.
While the historical view has been that Mexico has felt that sharing such a large border with the United States has created problems for their own country, in the past few years Mexico has begun to change this point of view. Mexico now believes their proximity to the United States is an asset and that ?Mexico is the envy of almost any other country in the world for being the neighbor to the United States.? (Rice) Mexicans do not completely trust the United States and there is still to some effect an ?anti-gringo? sentiment, but Mexico has learned to prosper from their position and not fight it. The public in the United States changed their attitude towards Mexico, but there is still a feeling that the U.S. is superior. ?Only recently, with NAFTA has Mexico begun to revamp its formerly insular and defensive stance vis a vis the outside world. Only recently has the U.S. begun to view Mexico with newfound respect and interest.?( B