September 5, 2002: Enrique Krauze discusses human rights and corruption in Mexico with host Daljit Dhaliwal.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Enrique Krauze, welcome to WIDE ANGLE.
Enrique Krauze: Thank you very much.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Why should Americans care about what’s happening in Mexico?
Enrique Krauze: First of all because you have Mexico within the U.S. It’s not just a neighbor. We will remain neighbors for some centuries. It’s not only that Mexico is a friend of the United States. It’s also a partner. A very important commercial partner. But also the fact that you have 20 million Mexicans within the borders of the United States, and that is changing American culture, and it’s bound to change it both ways. It’s changing Mexican culture, and American culture. So mutual understanding is something very important.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Immigration is a major factor linking the U.S. and Mexico. What should we know about it?
It is a very healthy kind of migration. If you compare it with other kinds of difficult, or conflictive migrations in our own time, for instance in Europe, you see that there is comparability, a culture comparability between the US and Mexico. Mexican culture has been inclusive from the very beginning. Mexico was, I would say, the most successful experiment of cultural blending in the Americas. Spaniards and Indians mixed not only biologically but also culturally. You have not the same experience in Peru and South America, and of course you don’t have it in the United States.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Do Americans understand Mexican culture?
Enrique Krauze: No, unfortunately not. It would be wonderful if they understand not only Mexico. After the shock of 9/11, Americans began to understand that they need to know how America is perceived in the outside world. And they found out some unpleasant truths, no? Of course I don’t agree with many of them. But the truth is there, and the perceptions are there. The United States is a reluctant empire. What will be the role of the United States in the 21st century? It’s bound to have a role of immense importance in the world, naturally it must know better what’s happening out there. So the force has to be matched with the knowledge of different cultures, and it might start with the friendly — more or less friendly — but different and distant neighbor.
Daljit Dhaliwal: What do you mean by unpleasant truths?
Enrique Krauze: For instance there are places in the world where America is not liked, where there is resentment and even hatred. But that’s not the case with Mexico. It’s important to know your adversaries and your enemies. But it’s also important to know your friends. And Mexico is mainly, as I say, a neighbor, a friend, a partner of the United States. So it’s important to know Mexicans. If history becomes more conflictive, which it’s bound to become in the next years, to know thy neighbor is important. You don’t necessarily have to love thy neighbor…
Daljit Dhaliwal: But it helps if you love your neighbor. Doesn’t it?
Enrique Krauze: Yeah. But first get to know him. It’s like love. Get to know him, and then love him.
Mexico and the whole of Latin America is the West … let’s not forget that. It’s an eccentric part of Western Civilization, but it’s still the West. We don’t have the kind of conflict that Europe has now with the Muslim migration, which is very conflictive.
In Mexico there is a kind of historical resentment. I don’t think there is hatred. But there is historical resentment for some clear historic reasons. We had a war that America has forgotten, the first war of the 19th century, where we lost half of our territory to the United States. And then there are incidents that have been completely forgotten, or not known in the United States, which every boy or girl in Mexico knows. At the beginning of the century, for instance, there was a very pure Mexican president, a Democrat, who was assassinated with direct intervention of the American ambassador. But again, these are things of the past. Now we have friendly, but not simple, relations.
Has NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, had a positive or negative impact?
NAFTA has done wonders in my point of view for both countries. The free trade agreement has been important economically, but also it has enabled political changes in Mexico which have been very important in recent years.
Mexican people have an intense sense of history, but they don’t cling to the past that much anymore. They are now more drawn to look to the future. That’s why NAFTA presents a huge opportunity for our countries.
I think that Mexicans have a healthy attitude towards their northern neighbor. They would like to have a better life. They would like to have it there, but if they cannot have it in Mexico they come here to the United States, some of them, to reach for a better life for their families.
Daljit Dhaliwal: President Bush promised to make Mexico his first priority. Do you think that’s happened?
No, because that was said September 5, 2001. And six days later, we had that historic shock [of 9/11]. And understandably, the priorities of the United States have changed. The United States, for good reason, has to be much more watchful on the borders. No? But there must be a way in which we can sort that out because it’s a key question for Mexicans. The whole question about how people die on the border is very sensitive. And it is really doing damage to our relationship, which I underline again and again, it’s healthier than some people think. It is not important if you say that Mexico’s number one, or number three, or eleven priority. It’s just important.
There are two things that the Mexican government is pressing, and rightly so, I would say. First is a deal for the migrants that are already in the U.S., three million migrants that don’t have papers. And then a kind of mini-Marshall plan. A mini-mini-Marshall plan for those states, or regions of Mexico, that export migrants. Because, to be sure, it is not in their nature or the will of these people to migrate. They do it because they have to. If they would find ways to develop a better way of life in their own villages and towns, they would do so.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Lets talk about immigration. Has there been any progress in that since 9/11?
Enrique Krauze: No. It is in a stalemate. I understand that two of the main ideas were to legalize the millions of Mexicans that are here without their papers, and three million of them. The second point was to develop a kind of mini-Marshall plan in the regions where these migrants come from. For instance, Zacatecas. It’s a very poor state, it lacks water, which is an immense problem in Mexico. and they simply haven’t been able to make a life for themselves. It’s a matter of life and death and of survival. It’s like the 19th century waves that came from Europe. No? People from Puebla come to New York. It seems that people from Oaxaca go to California. They tend to stick together. Mexicans have an idea of life as a big extended family. But one thing we can say is that they have come here to look for a better life, not unlike the wave of immigrations all through American history. But without losing their roots in Mexico.
Daljit Dhaliwal: They also make a huge contribution to the Mexican economy by sending money back to their families.
Enrique Krauze: Which is very important. They sometimes go to the U.S. and they rebuild their local church, and they come with American cars, or they rebuild their homes. It contributes a lot to the welfare of Mexican peasants. But again, how can this be managed in a more rational way? I mean there are 20 million Mexicans here, and they will go on to try to become something else. Not only unskilled laborers, but to go to colleges, their children. It’s a huge social and cultural change going on within your borders, and Americans need not only to acknowledge it, but to study it and come in terms with it.
After all, their work is very important for instance for agriculture and other services in the West and in the South of the United States. We also have there a picture of the border patrol. I guess doing their jobs. But many times mistreating the migrants and scenes of people dying on the border. Trying to cross the river. So the remnants of the old historical resentment of Mexicans towards the United States sometimes reappear, when there are these stories. But of course, left wing ideologues and politicians try to put more gasoline on the fire by enlarging them.
Daljit Dhaliwal: For political purposes?
Enrique Krauze: For their political purposes, and saying well, here you see, you cannot trust the United States. There was a famous Mexican dictator that stayed in power in 19th and 20th century for 30 years. His name was Porfirio Diaz. They say that he said “Poor Mexico. So far from God, so close to the United States.” Well, not many Mexicans would say that at the beginning of the 21st century. First of all, Mexicans are not that far from God in the sense that they are very religious people, and they know we now perceive that being close to the United States has some difficulties but many advantages.
Daljit Dhaliwal: How do you think Americans see Mexico and Mexicans?
Enrique Krauze: Well, first of all Americans don’t see much Mexico, and when they see Mexico they have a kind of touristic stereotype in their heads: that Mexico begins and ends in Tijuana, or Acapulco or Cancun. Mexico’s a very complex country. Mexico is a country not unlike China or India, a very ancient country, and a country that had a blend of Spanish and Indian civilization . There are many Mexicos. There are at least three Mexicos. The Mexico of the South, which is poor and has a huge Indian population; Mexico of the center that is in a way in tension between the more developed first world North and the backward South. Mexico is a place of a tension between the will of becoming a modern country, and the weight of Mexico’s past, which is a very rich past, but also a very conflicted past.
Daljit Dhaliwal: What about the issue of drugs?
Enrique Krauze: We have the problem of drugs. Mexican perception is that Americans have a liberal free market attitude towards everything — except to drugs. The invisible hand of Adam Smith works in everything, but not when it comes to drugs.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Why do you think that is?
Enrique Krauze: Americans tend to only focus on the supply side, and not on the demand side of the problem. That is the perception in Mexico. And I think there’s some truth in it. Yes, there’s a network in Mexico and the production of drugs in Latin America, but there is also the need here and the immense demand … so that suggests a social, moral disease. Let me tell you that in Mexican communities and families, and I’m not idealizing my country, the problem of individual isolation and angst and even the use of drugs is not as acute as in Northern countries.
Daljit Dhaliwal: I want to move on to the changes that are taking place in Mexico with the election of President Fox. He promised el cambio – change – and transparency. Has he succeeded?
Enrique Krauze: Well, he has succeeded partially. But many things remain to be done. el cambio meant first of all to finish 71 years of the reign of one party system, a very peculiar system – the PRI… el cambio meant also to get rid of that system, but to build new things like the end of corruption, growing the economy, the rule of the law. Many things that Mexicans believe are central to becoming a more decent society.
First of all let’s talk about the positive aspects of el cambio. Mexico in its 180 years of history, independent history since 1821, has been a democracy, a true democracy, probably less than 15 years. Some of them in the mid-19th century, a few months in the beginning of the 20th century, and now at the end of the 20th, and beginning of the 21st.
Daljit Dhaliwal: So really this is the first real opportunity to put down democratic roots and to build those structures.
Enrique Krauze: You could say that. We have had Caudillos, dictators, revolutions, and we had, so to speak, a benign dictatorship … the corporate, Statist dictatorship of the PRI. There have been 11 Presidents of the PRI. Every six years we have one. But there weren’t really clean elections. There were elections, but they were rigged elections. There wasn’t really freedom of the press. We were not really a democracy. We simulated democracy.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Do you think that President Fox bit off too much with el cambio?
Enrique Krauze: Yes, but it was inevitable. You see, after 71 years of the rigid structure of that political system that lasted so long, you needed a strong civic caudillo, as we say in Spanish, a charismatic leader. People like him and believe in him, and he had to promise. But he probably promised a little bit too much.
Daljit Dhaliwal: I just want to relate it back to the film, on the question of reining in the military and fighting corruption, has that happened?
Enrique Krauze: Well, the reality that is portrayed in the film is painfully true. Real. The main problem in Mexico as perceived by Mexicans clearly is insecurity, crime, and the lack of rule of law. Far more important than economic progress. Far more important than anything that the state could enable or provide. That if the state does not provide security for its citizens and rule of law, then what is the state for?
Daljit Dhaliwal: Are you referring to the role of the police, who in some respects are said to be as corrupt as the drug cartels?
Enrique Krauze: Actually what is somehow misleading in this wonderful film is that it overstates the problem of the Army, and it does not pay sufficient attention to the problem of the police. The Army in Mexico, unlike many armies in Latin America, has more or less been an honest and loyal institution since the 40’s.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Really?
Enrique Krauze: They step out of power willingly on their own. The last military President in Mexico was Manuel Avilla Camacho in 1946. And he chose a civilian successor. And from then on, all the presidents of the PRI, and now, President Fox, have been civilians. You don’t have the same thing happening in Latin America where you have the terrible cycle of anarchy and dictatorships. Where the Army has the temptation — not only the temptation –the will to step into politics and take over. We did not have that. We had stability. We did not have democracy, but we had stability for many decades.
And the Army played a role. I’m not saying that now with the problem of drugs we do not have some problems with the military. Some generals have been discovered that were involved in drug deals. But all in all I would say is that the problem is not the Mexican Army. The problem now overwhelmingly recognized by Mexican people is the police. Mexican police at all levels. National, state level, municipal level, is to an important degree corrupt. But it’s something that the police are the most corrupt force in Mexico. You approach a policeman and you don’t know if you’re going to be robbed or what. The PRI was like a Sicilian Mafia. Now you have the breakup of that Mafia, and the Capos of the Mafia are now dispersed.
Daljit Dhaliwal: How has Fox tackled the problem?
Enrique Krauze: He has been doing very poorly in that sense. And this is one of the things that Mexicans, Mexican people who still like Fox and believe in him, resent most.
To be a good and honest guy is something important for voters. No? They think that he means well and he still has the credit – diminishing – and the trust of the people. Because they also do not forget the positive aspects of el cambio that we have achieved in Mexico. It is not only Fox, but the work of Mexicans and many people.
But there have been some important, I would say very, very important aspects of el cambio that Americans should acknowledge and understand.
Daljit Dhaliwal: For example?
Enrique Krauze: We talked about the problems. The problem of corruption, lack of rule of law, and the police. But let’s talk about two important changes. Elections. Even the word elections didn’t mean much for Mexicans during the years. No one really believed in election. No. It was a kind of folkloric thing. We even had a word “alchemy” for elections — that is people went to vote and then something happened — an alchemy — with computers, or specialized technicians — changed the results, and of course we had the PRI winning in every state, and in every one of the 2500 municipalities.
Daljit Dhaliwal: So where did the impetus for change come from?
Enrique Krauze: It’s a very interesting question. You see it started in the early 80’s, during the big economic crash in Mexico. Mexicans began to understand that to put all the power and resources in the hands of one man — like a Monarch, an absolute monarch, disguised in Republican and Democratic clothes — was very dangerous. We began to think that democracy might be a solution. We had never thought that.
Daljit Dhaliwal: It had never been discussed even among the intelligentsia?
Enrique Krauze: Actually no. We have had just 10 years in the 19th century and a few months in the 20th century. But democracy was not an issue. Not even a word that we talked about. Because Mexicans and the intelligentsia was much more in love with the word revolution than the word democracy.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Those days are over in Mexico, aren’t they?
Enrique Krauze: Not totally and we need to talk about that. Of course after the fall of the iron wall … but Cuba is still there and still draws some attention and sympathy from some places.
But let’s go back to democracy. During the 1980’s, we understand that the concentration of power in the hands of the president was something that entailed enormous risks, and in some northern modernized states of Mexico was a democratic awakening. Slowly we had elections in some of those Northern states, and found out that the PRI was trying to do the same old game, but some parts of the press noticed that and the international press started to notice that Mexico was … a politically irregular country.
Then came the 90’s, and slowly the democratic awakening grew … stronger and stronger … and this man Fox, a rancher from Guanajuato in central Mexico, who had worked for Coca-Cola, understood that yes, his calling was to lead the country finally to a democratic change. There were writers and intellectuals and media and citizens that contributed to the process, but then the process came. Against some people who doubted it would ever happen.
So a country that didn’t have democracy in all its history, save for a few years, suddenly begins to have clean elections in every level of state and regional and in the municipalities. Because now there is an independent agency, The Instituto Federal Electoral, which is independent from the government, that handles the elections, and makes us believe in that institution.
Well, that’s a huge step. It is easier said than done, but Mexicans now vote and believe in their vote. Well, that’s something important.
Freedom, political freedom, freedom of the press, freedom of the media — to be able to know and to investigate things as they are, and to shed light into corruption and the problems of Mexico is something that is also an end in itself. Mexicans also like that.
It’s not only a matter of formal elections, it’s also an atmosphere of freedom that you breathe in Mexico now that you did not breathe in decades before. So there are two things that el cambio has brought to Mexico. True civic liberties, freedom in the press and elections.
It’s not only Fox who has done that, but it is something that shows that Mexico is growing or becoming a more mature country politically.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Would it have happened without Fox?
Enrique Krauze: No, I happen to think that individuals sometimes are important in history. You see? And we needed this leader to break the structure of the PRI. He was a wonderful leader for that democratic change. But yes, has he delivered? And in that sense we must say that his performance has been mediocre. Why? First of all Fox does not have political skills. One thing is to be a good leader in a campaign, and something quite different is to be a good politician. He is, in my opinion, not a politician. He likes to talk. He likes to be with crowds. He likes to woo them and be liked by them. He has a good heart and good intentions. People still believe in him. People know and think that he’s honest, and I think he is.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Why hasn’t he been able to realize his promises?
Enrique Krauze: First of all because of the lack of political skills of himself and of his cabinet. There are many reforms that need to be done in Mexico. We have a huge problem with energy. Electricity. Oil. Both are monopolized by the State — it is highly inefficient. We are on the verge of having collapses in a few years in both aspects. And there are serious economic drawbacks and problems. We still don’t have tax reform or a tax system that is minimally intelligent or suitable for the country. We have very outmoded labor laws. And of course there is a huge problem of the rule of law that we’ve been talking about.
Daljit Dhaliwal: He’s opened up the archives to have an investigation of the disappearances that happened in the 60’s and 70’s.
Enrique Krauze: In that case, that is a very positive aspect relating to the freedom that I mentioned along with elections, free elections, and clean elections.
Daljit Dhaliwal: So that was an easy one for him?
Enrique Krauze: It’s important, but not one of the most important things. Mexico, in its recent past, had some very traumatic experiences, like, for instance, the massacre of students in ‘68, and a sort of covert, secret war against some of those radical students in the 70s. And there were, for sure, many abuses done by the army and by the government. But nothing in comparison with let’s say Chile or Argentina, not to mention some European recent experience of war. I mean, Mexico does not have in its recent past wounds of that nature or of that dimension. Nevertheless the wounds are there. And it’s one of the positive aspects of el cambio to open up those archives. It’s part of this new transparency that has to do with the freedom in the media that Mexicans are now enjoying. It is very important. But again, traditionally, we are not a people that dwell a lot on the past. Now, we are much more oriented towards the future.
Fox was brave to open the files. But it was something that he could do. You see, Mexicans elected a President of the PAN in the year 2000. But the House of Representatives and the Senate have majorities of the other two parties. The PRI and the left-wing party, the PRD.
They have blocked many of the initiatives that come from Fox. And they have been doing this in my opinion for the wrong reasons. Not that they had to approve everything, but there has been something systematic in the way they have been blocking the initiatives. The idea is to arrive to the elections in July 2003 next year, and for them to gain again the majority. They are making this blockade in order to impede the normal performance of Fox’s government until the end – in 2006. Then the PRI dreams of coming back to power, while the PRD hopes to have for the first time their opportunity.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Do you think Mexicans are going to sit back and let this happen?
Enrique Krauze: I’m not saying that if the PRI comes back to power we will have again the old cooperative system. That is gone. The PRI was a party with a president, and the system is not there anymore. They even drew the resources directly from the Federal Reserve, you see? No. There are certain things in the system that not even a PRI president will be able to do again. But if things do not change — if Fox does not deliver some things — we might arrive to the year 2006 with the feeling that we should go back to a president of the PRI or, like it’s happening in Latin America, a more left wing populist president. That is clearly something that can happen.
That’s one reason why the United States and the Bush administration have a huge opportunity with Fox. Because he is a pro-American President, a president who believes in free market, and who believes in democracy. Who has a very friendly attitude towards the United States. That might change. The problem now appearing in Latin America, in many places, is disenchantment, not with democracy, but with globalization and free markets. In the case of Brazil where you most probably will have a populist – a left-wing leader or president in the October elections. You could have that in Mexico too.
It’s very important to make it clear that there is a role for the United States here that they should understand. That this administration in Mexico is one that has the greatest convergence with the main values for liberty, economic freedoms, and political liberty in the United States.
Daljit Dhaliwal: So do you think that’s partly the reason why Fox didn’t have a truth commission, for instance?
I think we really didn’t need that much. I mean we know. The historians and the news media have been shedding enough light. We know many of the things that happened, happened. But we Mexicans know that we have such pressing problems in the country, that what we really need is a hands on attitude towards them. And try to begin to solve them, because if we don’t, if the government doesn’t do that, we will start thinking that the whole unveiling of the wounds of the past is like a smoke screen to disguise the limitations of this administration.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Our film highlighted the murders of two lawyers in Mexico. What does that represent for Mexicans?
Enrique Krauze: These two are very painful cases which, once again, corroborate that laws mean very little in Mexico. That the basic individual rights and security are something that we still have to achieve. There is a general sense of uneasiness in every level of the society. People go to work, and go afraid. When you have sons, no matter what age, or daughters, you’re always worried about their fate, no matter at what time of the day. Because there is insecurity in the streets. I don’t want to overstate this, but there is this problem. And whom do you turn to? If you know that the police in every level is implicated?
Daljit Dhaliwal: Which brings us back to the whole problem of corruption, which President Fox has not dented.
Enrique Krauze: Yes. He talks much about that in the film two or three times. We now have an agency in the government that is overseeing cases of corruption, not only in the past, but now. I mean you can trust that the administration is an honest administration. That is perceived by Mexicans. And I think it is true. All in all, it is an honest administration. And that is important, because Mexican people think, and rightly so, I would say, that the president and the people that are working with him have good intentions and are honest. But below, we have a huge problem. And the problem, it has to do also with the independence, the true independence of the judiciary system in Mexico. The judiciary branch, one of the three main branches of government, has in Mexico been traditionally completely dependent on the executive. Unlike any real democratic government. We need to strengthen the judiciary system.
Daljit Dhaliwal: What impact has NAFTA had so far on Mexico?
Enrique Krauze: A very positive one. Mexico, first of all, has always been an inward looking country. Obsessed with its past, and with its own identity — looking always towards itself. Sometimes, looking towards Europe, to balance a little our conflictive relationship with the United States. Since NAFTA, for the first time, Mexicans started to look towards the north. And began putting up old resentments, old nationalistic ideologies, to try to be more compatible with its neighbor, and not only a neighbor, and partner. So there’s a huge cultural change, looking northwards. Starting to think that yes, it is possible to become a more modern country.
It’s already happened in the northern states of Mexico, which are much more modern. But it’s slowly coming down South. People are thinking that this relationship could be a benign one. So there’s a cultural change. But then of course economics have changed, too, in some dramatic and positive aspects. Mexico 20 years ago was a country dependent on its oil. Then it had a vast public sector. In these two instances, we witnessed wonderful changes. First of all, it is a country that has a thriving export economy. We thought we couldn’t export but now, we are exporting many things. So there you have a great change.
I’ll tell you an anecdote. The Mexican people didn’t know because of the control of the media that there was such a thing as a political debate. The PRI lost their grip in the beginning of the 90s because of NAFTA and we had the debates for the presidency of the United States televised in Mexico. So, many Mexicans started to ask themselves the natural question, why exactly is it that they have that and we don’t have that? We started having debates. So there you have an effect, a positive effect. So I think it’s been great, that it has helped to change the Mexican mentality, to change the economy, and to change politics.
You can say even that a new country is being born, the birth of a new nation along the border, no? A Mexican-American nation. So I think I there are huge culture changes that have been undergoing, and there is compatibility in these two cultures. And there’s a great opportunity there, because the tide now is in favor for convergence. But it can change.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Has the United States helped the development of democracy in Mexico?
Enrique Krauze: Well, I’m sorry to say that in the indirect sense of having signed the agreement with Mexico, it has helped. And of course, you can’t forget that the US paid for a huge bail-out after the crash of 1994 in Mexico. We perceive that there is a positive change towards Mexico after NAFTA. But much remains to be done on your side. And much remains to be done on our side. But the United States has not helped in any direct sense. Because we must remember that during the whole history of Latin America that the United States has been a very insensitive, to say it politely, very insensitive to the democratic process.
Daljit Dhaliwal: You mean supporting dictators?
Enrique Krauze: Yes, and didn’t even care to think that there were many liberal democrats in those countries that shared the main democratic liberal values of the United States, and they felt betrayed.
Americans have been very skillful in exporting many features of the American way of life. For instance, take baseball, as a strange example. It is played as a sport in northern Mexico, in the Pacific, and in the Gulf of Mexico. It is the national sport of Cuba, of Puerto Rico, of Cuba, of Nicaragua. Many places that at the same time harbor a strong and old resentment to the United States. On one hand, they love many things of the United States. So it’s an ambiguous attitude. They love it. Baseball is a wonderful example, because now it is the real cultural melting pot. You have players from all over those countries playing here, playing wonderfully along with the Americans. But there is one item, one historical item in American history, which is more important than baseball, which they have not taken serious: that is democracy. Perfectly exportable, because it’s common sense. I mean the majority should rule. There are values that are universal. The great contradiction is that the home of democracy has been backing dictators in the 20th century and behaving with not much sensitivity.
Daljit Dhaliwal: But that is a failure then of U.S. foreign policy rather than the American people.
Enrique Krauze: Yes, you’re right. I’m not talking about blame.
Daljit Dhaliwal: President Fox has spent a lot of time in the United States since his election. In fact has been to California something like eight times. He also campaigned here. Why?
Enrique Krauze: I would say that he thinks the electoral future of his party has as much to do with the way the Mexican population in the United States think he’s performing. He believes and behaves like he is being a president, not only of the Mexicans within Mexico, but also the Mexicans outside the borders.
Daljit Dhaliwal: President Fox has moved away from that close relationship he once had with Cuba, with Fidel Castro. Why?
Enrique Krauze: That was also a momentous decision that should be taken in account, which is this: Mexico had a very peculiar relation with Cuba. Cuba exported its revolution almost everywhere but Mexico, because Mexico supported it to a certain extent. The deal was Castro did not export revolution to Mexico. That was the deal. Now after NAFTA, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, after the demise of Communism and in this new era, Mexico understood that the deal was a deal of the PRI and that Mexico has little to gain today. And what’s more important, human rights were beginning to be an important issue in Mexican diplomacy. That is also a good point in the Cambio. We now have an active foreign policy, that is dynamic and creative.
Daljit Dhaliwal: What do you think that Americans and Mexicans need to know about each other?
Enrique Krauze: Americans need to understand that on the other side of the Rio Grande lies a very complex, interesting, and profound culture, a country which is many countries. Not only for visiting as tourists, although tourists are welcome, but also because it’s a very important commercial partner. It is struggling to consolidate it’s democratic life. It wants to be prosperous. It wants to be respected. And this is a country that is not only a neighbor, a partner, but also a friend, but is something which is very important. Also one huge part of its population is living here in the United States. So to understand Mexico, in a way, is to understand yourselves, as you are now.
Mexicans have to get rid, once and for all, of the prejudice and the old ideological sentiments towards the United States. I mean if we want to become a more modern country it’s something that we have to do, mainly by ourselves and yes, we need the understanding of our neighbor and partner, but we need to do it ourselves.
Daljit Dhaliwal: Enrique Krauze, thank you very much for joining us on Wide Angle.
Enrique Krauze: Thank you very much. It’s been a real pleasure.