cover image A New Time for Mexico

A New Time for Mexico

Carlos Fuentes. Farrar Straus Giroux, $22 (216pp) ISBN 978-0-374-22170-6

In these vigorous essays, eminent Mexican novelist, critic and ex-diplomat Fuentes calls on Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo to take definitive steps toward a full democracy--electoral reform; equal access of candidates to the media; independent, aggressive labor unions; and, above all, true separation between the ruling party and the government. Arguing that NAFTA merely institutionalized the growing economic interrelationships of Mexico, the U.S. and Canada, he charges that Americans, ever in need of an external enemy, unfairly characterize Mexico as unreliable, unable to govern itself and financially inept. He views the recent guerrilla uprising in Chiapas as symptomatic of a country divided between a relatively modern, prosperous north and an oppressed, backward south. Adding that the Chiapas rebellion has revealed the deep-rooted racism and intolerance of many Mexicans, Fuentes pleads for social justice for Mexico's Indian communities, devastated by poverty, alcohol and lack of social services. Offering lapidary, lyrical meditations on Mexico as a land of continual metamorphosis, Fuentes nostalgically reminisces about his home in Veracruz, whose port his father defended against a Yankee invasion in 1914. (June)