Mexico: Democracy Interrupted
In 2000, Mexico's long invincible Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) lost the presidential election to Vicente Fox of the National Action Party (PAN). The ensuing changeover—after 71 years of PRI dominance—was hailed as the beginning of a new era of hope for Mexico. Yet the promises of the PAN victory were not consolidated. In this vivid account of Mexico's recent history, a journalist with extensive reporting experience investigates the nation's young democracy, its shortcomings and achievements, and why the PRI is favored to retake the presidency in 2012.
Jo Tuckman reports on the murky, terrifying world of Mexico's drug wars, the counterproductive government strategy, and the impact of U.S. policies. She describes the reluctance and inability of politicians to seriously tackle rampant corruption, environmental degradation, pervasive poverty, and acute inequality. To make matters worse, the influence of non-elected interest groups has grown and public trust in almost all institutions—including the Catholic church—is fading. The pressure valve once presented by emigration is also closing. Even so, there are positive signs: the critical media cannot be easily controlled, and small but determined citizen groups notch up significant, if partial, victories for accountability. While Mexico faces complex challenges that can often seem insurmountable, Tuckman concludes, the unflagging vitality and imagination of many in Mexico inspire hope for a better future.
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Q. So you are interested in Mexico? A. Yes. Years ago, I thought of retiring there, as a million other Americans have, according to Jo. But after reading her book, I am not so sure. Q. So the book aroused your fears? A. Yes. Jo is a journalist and focuses extensively on drug cartel violence, corrupt politics, widespread poverty, all the negatives. But I do not doubt her perspective or findings. Life has become cheap, in the whole world but especially in Mexico. It may have something to do with large increases in population, I think, but that is only a guess. The cheapness of life in Mexico also explains, or gives a rationale, for why so many of them would try so hard to cross the border and come to the U.S. Really, after reading this book, I can see their reasons more clearly. I commend Jo for staying there, in Mexico, for so long, since 2000, and before that in Central America, her career actually, and for writing about matters that could, I assume, put her in jeopardy. Q. You mean from those she writes about in a negative way? A. Yes, including but not only the drug cartel kingpins. She has guts. Also, she writes very well, at a nice pace, not too slow and not too fast. Q. So can you recommend that others read this book, general readers? A. Yes, it is interesting throughout. But Americans especially will benefit, I think, by gaining empathy for Mexicans, those who try to get out and those who are still there. Jo tries to put a little upturn on a smile by the end of the book, about the future of Mexico, and we all hope she is right. Americans and Mexicans, the whole world, would benefit if they got their act together, so to speak, but really who knows? The population just keeps growing and corporations have a way of having their way, no matter what. They may not be so good for anyone.
Review: Mexico: Democracy InterruptedUser Review - Andrew Paxman - Goodreads
Every several years a foreign correspondent takes the pulse of contemporary Mexico, chiefly for the benefit of North American readers. High-profile examples include Andrés Oppenheimer's Bordering on ... Read full review