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Response to Review no. 954

The Institute of Historical Research sent me your review of my book Unequal Partners: The United States and Mexico. I find your review excellent and it praises my work on Mexico more than I probably deserve. You know much about me and this comes out in the review. Nevertheless, I want to make a few comments.

The most important comment is the attention you give to my discussion at the bottom of p. 74 on the violation of human rights by the military in Mexico’s antinarcotics effort and then comparing this with what President Reagan said about the Soviet Union to ‘trust, but verify’ (p. 75). I probably should not have made the comparison with the Soviet Union, but the part of the quotation about the need to verify seemed apt. I was talking about violations of human rights and not the Cold War. In other words, I think you pushed the Soviet comparison too far. That is the only sentence, really the only phrase, in the book that refers to the Soviet Union. The army was later withdrawn from the antinarcotics effort in large part because of its human rights violations and its ineffectiveness as a police force.

You imply that I omitted to indicate that making it more difficult to cross the border from Mexico into the United States without papers made it likely that successful border crossers would stay as permanent unlawful immigrants rather than return to Mexico after each border crossing. I made this precise point at the top of p.107.

In the following paragraph you make the point that Mexico is less diffident at present than it had been earlier on trade, investment, migration, or the border, and you wonder why I did not make this clear. I thought I did make this clear in my discussion of changes Mexico made in economic policy in my first, hence most important, policy conclusion (pp.133–4). I also make the statement on p. 133 that perhaps the most important policy conclusion of the book is that Mexico was able to make changes during times of policy stress.

You note that I made the point that it has been hard for the United States to change policies that conflict with Mexican priorities (p.139).  I would prefer that the final sentence of your penultimate paragraph – that the United States still treats its best-ever ally in the Mexican presidency as if he were a Soviet ruler – did not allude once again to the Soviets. My view is that you overdo this analogy and make it appear that it is a major point in my book. It is not.

Again, thank you for the careful reading of my book and the complimentary comments it has about me.