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."
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