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Shannon O'Neil Urges U.S. to “Wake Up” to Mexico’s Prosperous Future, in New Book

March 25, 2013

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Over seventy thousand people have been killed in narco-related crimes in Mexico in the past six years. Tales of grisly murders conveyed by American media shape the widespread perception of Mexico as a dangerous place, overrun by brutal drug lords. But there is far more to Mexico's story than this narrative would suggest, writes CFR Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies Shannon K. O'Neil, in Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead.

"While thugs have been grabbing the headlines, Mexico has undergone an unprecedented and under-publicized political, economic, and social transformation," argues O'Neil. "The United States is making a grave mistake by focusing on the politics of antagonism toward Mexico. Rather, we should wake up to the revolution of prosperity now unfolding there."

The news that is not being reported is of a more hopeful Mexico, with a globally competitive economy, a rising middle class, and increasingly influential pro-democracy voters. It is also a Mexico whose people, communities, companies, and commerce are intricately tied to the United States. O'Neil warns, "It is past time for the United States to forge a new relationship with its southern neighbor—in no uncertain terms, our future depends on it."

In a related essay in the March/April 2013 issue of Foreign Affairs, O'Neil observes that "new administrations are beginning their terms in both countries. In Mexico, Peña Nieto has six years to overcome his country's remaining economic, social, and political barriers. Obama has the opportunity to strengthen U.S. manufacturing, production, and security by working with the United States' increasingly prosperous neighbor."

PRAISE FOR TWO NATIONS INDIVISIBLE:

"Shannon O'Neil has combined her deep knowledge of Mexico with illuminating anecdotes and insightful analysis to set out the opportunities and challenges for Mexico and to persuasively make the case that a successful Mexico is of vital importance to the United States. In that context, she thoughtfully explores the policy paths that Mexico and the United States should pursue to realize the potential for Mexico's success that she strongly believes in. And, while this discussion is serious and important, it is also well written and engrossing."

Robert E. Rubin, former U.S. Treasury Secretary

"The U.S.-Mexico relationship is as complex as it is misunderstood. Shannon O'Neil provides a lucid and timely correction to the many myths that have long plagued this relationship."

Moisés Naím, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and author of The End of Power

"Wedded—for better or for worse. Trade booms, they reshape each other's societies, and Mexico democratizes. Yet, Mexico's thugs get weapons in the United States; U.S. kids get cocaine from Mexico. Shannon O'Neil's smart, articulate, well-researched, and illuminating book sheds light on this binational intimacy, its tragedies and hopes, and sets the path for a better future."

Jorge Domínguez, Professor and Vice Provost for International Affairs, Harvard University

"Two Nations Indivisible is an in-depth analysis of the relationship between two nations that together can play a major role in the twenty-first century."

Claudio X. Gonzalez, Chairman, Mexico Business Council

"Two Nations Indivisible provides a brilliant, well-documented roadmap showing how and why the United States and Mexico could and should collaborate to solve shared economic, social, and security challenges and in doing so advance their respective national interests. Leaders, public and private, on both sides of the border should take note."

Carla A. Hills, former U.S. Trade Representative and Chairman and CEO of Hills & Company

Shannon O'Neil is senior fellow for Latin America studies at CFR. Her expertise includes U.S.-Latin American relations, energy policy, trade, political and economic reforms, and immigration. She directed CFR's Independent Task Force on U.S.-Latin America Relations and writes the blog Latin America's Moment, which analyzes developments in Latin America and U.S. relations in the region. She holds a BA from Yale University, an MA in international relations from Yale University, and a PhD in government from Harvard University.

The Council on Foreign Relations is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy.