Two Nations Indivisible | Shannon K. O’Neil

Summary of: Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead
By: Shannon K. O’Neil


Dive into the compelling narrative of ‘Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead’ as author Shannon K. O’Neil highlights how Mexico has transformed itself from a crime-ridden nation to one displaying rapid economic growth. Despite the setbacks caused by drug-related issues and political turmoil, you’ll discover the blossoming infrastructure, multinational corporations, and strengthening diplomatic ties between Mexico and the United States. This summary provides an in-depth look at the key themes and topics surrounding the relationship between these two countries, including immigration, international trade agreements, and political reform.

The One-Sided Narrative of US Media on Juárez

In “Juárez: The Laboratory of our Future,” Juan Enriquez highlights the American media’s one-sided focus on drug-related crime in Juárez, Mexico. While Juárez is infamous for its high rates of drug-related violence, the city is also experiencing rapid growth and prosperity. Multinational companies such as Siemens and Bosch are investing in the city, and Juárez has a per capita income above average for Mexico. However, news coverage of the city is primarily centered around drug lords and dealers, presenting a skewed and incomplete picture of the city and its progress. The book argues that while drug violence is still an issue, it’s essential to recognize the positive changes happening in Juárez to paint a more accurate and hopeful picture of its future.

US-Mexico Diplomatic Relations

The United States and Mexico have a complicated relationship, given the large number of Mexicans living in the United States and Americans retiring in Mexico. Efforts to strengthen diplomatic ties have been made, but progress has been slow. In 2009, Carlos Pascual became the US Ambassador to Mexico, and he sought to create a security strategy that would address Mexico’s drug wars. However, the countries were not ready to cooperate, and WikiLeaks exposed critical messages from Pascual and his team in 2010. The Mexican president was furious, and Pascual resigned in 2011.

Mexico’s Oil Crash and its Impact on Immigration

In the 1980s, Mexico’s primary source of wealth – its oil industry – crashed, leading to a devaluation of its currency. The economic downturn resulted in a vast wave of immigration, with Mexican citizens seeking refuge in the USA. Despite the long history of Mexican immigration, the legal status of immigrants in the USA remains a pressing issue. To address the situation, in 2012, the Obama administration made the decision to halt deportations of illegal immigrants and give work visas to children who were brought into the USA before the age of 16. Congressional legislation known as the DREAM Act went even further, providing provisional and eventually permanent citizenship to all such immigrants who had lived in the USA for at least five years and had earned a high-school degree.

Mexico’s Road to Democracy

Mexico experienced a long period of institutionalized authoritarianism under the political domination of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Nevertheless, in the 1990s, Mexico experienced a growing wave of protest, with the expanding middle class feeling utterly abandoned by the PRI during the peso crisis. Independent political movements, like the Zapatista National Liberation Army, emerged to demand social justice and political reform. This, together with the changing public pressure, led to significant electoral reforms. Finally, in 2000, control of the presidency in Mexico democratically changed hands with the election of the opposition candidate, Vicente Fox of the National Action Party, or PAN.

Trading for Success

International trade agreements create beneficial economic growth. NAFTA eliminated border taxes on imports and protection for intellectual property rights, leading to increased trade and stronger economies for Canada, US, and Mexico. This facilitated a boost to foreign investment, developing Mexico’s manufacturing sector and making it Latin America’s largest exporter. However, this competitive edge is fleeting as other countries negotiate their own agreements with the US, and Mexico’s economic problems such as major companies inflating prices without competition persist. Mexico needs to strengthen economic regulations to prevent monopolies and increase competition.

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