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Media Conference Call: Jorge Castañeda and Shannon O'Neil on Nieto and U.S.-Mexico Relations

Speakers: Jorge G. Castañeda, Mexico’s Foreign Minister in 2000–2003
Shannon K. O'Neil, Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies
Presider: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, CFR.org
November 28, 2012

Listen to CFR Senior Fellow Shannon K. O'Neil and former foreign minister of Mexico Jorge G. Castañeda discuss President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto and the future of U.S.-Mexico relations.

In an op-ed that appeared this week in USA Today, O'Neil argued that the main obstacle to better relations between the two countries is Americans' perceptions of Mexico and its people:

"In Americans' psyches, drugs dominate. When advertising firm GSD&M and Vianovo strategic consultants asked Americans to come up with three words that describe Mexico, nearly every other person answered 'drugs,' followed by 'poor' and 'unsafe.' Other questions reveal Americans see Mexico as corrupt, unstable and violent, more problem than partner. Americans had more favorable views of Greece, El Salvador and Russia."

Read O'Neil's USA Today op-ed "Mexico Isn't a Gangland Gunbattle."

In the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs, Castañeda and historian Héctor Aguilar Camín claim that there is a political mandate in Mexico that calls for less corruption, greater rule of law, and improved economic justice:

"Mexicans' clamor for prosperity is no longer negotiable, and today, the country is less than a generation away from becoming the full-fledged middle-class society it aspires to be. But only if it gets to work now."

Read Camín and Castañeda's essay "Mexico's Age of Agreement."


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