The Great Divide: The Challenge of U.S.-Mexico Relations in the 1990s

Overview

The Great Divide is an in-depth examination of the longest boundary dividing the industrialized from the developing world: the almost two-thousand-mile border between Mexico and the United States. Relations between these countries have always been volatile, characterized by prejudice, imperialism, and violence, and only recently by cooperation and mutual dependence. This precarious harmony is further threatened by the North American Free Trade Agreement, which promises to change permanently the nature of the ...
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Overview

The Great Divide is an in-depth examination of the longest boundary dividing the industrialized from the developing world: the almost two-thousand-mile border between Mexico and the United States. Relations between these countries have always been volatile, characterized by prejudice, imperialism, and violence, and only recently by cooperation and mutual dependence. This precarious harmony is further threatened by the North American Free Trade Agreement, which promises to change permanently the nature of the line. Bound as the two countries are by trade, debt, immigration, and the drug war, the economic and social changes they face play out most visibly along the border. Every day, some eight thousand people risk their lives to cross illegally into the United States through the borderlands; two thousand maquiladora factories littered across the borderlands employ more than half a million Mexicans and yet regularly flout the U.S.'s labor and environmental laws; half the cocaine and three-quarters of the marijuana smuggled into the U.S. come through the borderlands; and the pollution in the area is so bad that a section of the Nogales Wash, a borderlands river, recently exploded. The Great Divide is essential reading for anyone interested in NAFTA, in the future of the U.S. and Mexico, and in their potential for cooperation.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The authors, research associates at the Inter-Hemispheric Education Resource Center, an Albuquerque think tank, present a critical but dry assessment of the numerous issues confronting the U.S. and Mexico. Their first section repeats familiar stories about border life, describing migrants, drug-smuggling and maquiladoras (export-oriented assembly plants). Better is their account of the inevitable effects of cross-border pollution, and of how U.S. policy-makers co-opted environmentalist critics of NAFTA. Observing that Mexico's modernization has exacerbated inequality, the authors argue that trickle-down compacts like NAFTA must be accompanied by innovations that rebuild communities, defend workers, guard the environment and promote health. The U.S. and Mexico have moved closer in their official relations, but the authors note tartly that the U.S. does not fully respect Mexican sovereignty (especially concerning the drug war) and is not altogether committed to Mexican democratization. A brief conclusion reprises recommendations ranging from harmonization of wages and regulations to institutionalizing the roles of grass-roots groups already involved in cross-border relations. (May)
Library Journal
This new work from the Inter-Hemispheric Education Resource Center does for the international arena what senior analyst Barry's Mexico: A Country Guide (1992) accomplished for domestic politics; it offers an up-to-date primer of data and interpretations of problems having an immediate impact on U.S.-Mexican relations. The book focuses on three broad agendas--human rights, including the consequences of drugs and border employment in American factories; the environment, which is given one of the most useful, comprehensive overviews in print; and economic interdependence--and shows their impact on the official relationship between the two countries. Although its conclusion is too brief, this remains a highly informative fact book on the evolving U.S.-Mexico relationship. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-- Roderic A. Camp, Latin American Ctr., Tulane Univ., New Orleans
Booknews
The three authors are affiliated with the Inter-Hemispheric Education Resource Center, a private, non-profit research and policy institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their discussion encompasses the border region--immigration, narcotics, the maquila industry; environmental repercussions of the cross-border relationship; and US- Mexico economic relations. Lacks an index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Mary Carroll
The authors explore the complex relationships linking Mexico and the U.S., and place the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) within the context of these relationships as well as global economic trends. Rather than opposing economic integration, they seek to move it beyond a purely economic agenda. To represent the needs of workers, consumers, and the environment as well as businesspeople, they propose adoption of four "mechanisms": democratized decision making, compensation for those on both sides of the border who are hurt by free trade, new "international legal and normative frameworks . . . to help compensate for the declining ability of . . . governments and their citizens to oversee and restrain . . . transnational actors," and "representative and accountable [binational and trinational] institutions . . . [which would] account for the full social costs that will accompany the integration process." Even readers who find the authors' recommendations hopelessly utopian will find much useful data--on immigration, the cross-border drug trade, and "maquiladoras", the environmental disasters along the border, and the history of the two nations' economic and political relationships--in "The Great Divide".
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802115591
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/1994
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 452

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. I Life on the Line 5
Beginning at the Border 7
Crossover Dreams - and Nightmares 27
The Drug Connection 49
Calling in the Troops 73
Manufacturing on the Margin 80
Dual Development: The Never-ending Promise 101
Pt. II Environmental Showdown 149
The Lesson of the Cobalt Man 151
The Nature of the Borderlands 156
The "Other America" 171
The Poison Trail 191
Governments Face the Environment 211
Pt. III The Economic Connection 251
Economic Globalization Sets the Stage 253
Ties That Bind 270
Free Trade: The Ifs, Ands & Buts 287
Labor Solidarity Faces the Test 321
Pt. IV Official Relations 367
Conflict and Cooperation 369
Boosting Business 385
Development, Democracy, and Military Aid 399
Conclusion: Crossing the Great Divide 441
Acknowledgments 449
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