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Reading: Mexico’s Foreign Policy under Salinas: The Search for Friends in the First World

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Research Article

Mexico’s Foreign Policy under Salinas: The Search for Friends in the First World

Author:

Omar Sánchez

Abstract

Mexico’s official foreign policy under Carlos Salinas (1988-1994) was defined as a search for economic modernization and diversification in its external relations. Traditional elements of Mexican foreign affairs were largely turned upside down, even if the Salinas diplomatic team maintained its traditional discourse in multilateral fora. The new Mexico became pragmatic, internationalist, pro-American and economistic. However, attempts to diversify economic relations and build economic bridges with Europe and Asia did not bear fruit. When the dust settled, Mexico had devoted most of its political capital to cultivating its relations with the United States, and largely distanced itself from Latin America. NAFTA, the crowning achievement of the sexenio, did not necessarily render Mexico more politically vulnerable, as common wisdom has it and, paradoxically, it may yet prove the key to enhanced diversification. But however one judges Salinas’ term in office, it is clear that the political economy orientation his administration gave Mexico has become institutionalized. Therefore, making sense of current Mexican foreign policy requires an understanding of the Salinas era.

La política exterior mexicana bajo el mandato de Carlos Salinas (19988-1994) se definió oficialmente como una búsqueda de la modernización económica y de la diversificación de sus relaciones exteriores. Los elementos tradicionales de dicha política fueron sustituidos por completo, si bien el equipo diplomático mexicano retuvo su retórica tradicional en foros multilaterales. El nuevo México devino pragmático, internacionalista, proamericano y economicista. Sin embargo, los intentos por diversificar los lazos económicos y tender puentes con Europa y con Asia no dieron fruto. En ultima instancia, México utilizó todo su capital político en cultivar su relación con Estados Unidos, distanciándose de Latinoamérica. El Tratado de Libre Comercio Norteamericano, el máximo logro politico del sexenio, no hizo de México un país más vulnerable, como se suele afirmar. Paradójicamente, el TLC puede ser la llave de una futura mayor diversificación. No obstante e independientemente de cómo se juzgue el periodo de Salinas en la presidencia, no hay duda de que la orientación que dio al país en materia de política económica ha quedado institucionalizada. Por ello, comprender la política exterior mexicana actual require la compresión previa de la era Salinas.

How to Cite: Sánchez, O., (2001). Mexico’s Foreign Policy under Salinas: The Search for Friends in the First World. Iberoamericana – Nordic Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. 31(1), pp.55–82. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16993/ibero.118
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Published on 01 Jan 2001.
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