Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Public Affairs/International Relations

First Advisor

Robert Weiner

Second Advisor

Primo Vannicelli

Third Advisor

Ursula Tafe


Despite its status as hemispheric hegemon, the United States has been confronted with some resistance in implementing its Free Trade Area of the Americas agenda with the major South American countries. Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Bolivia in particular have expressed strong dissatisfaction with the FTAA, and with US Latin American policy in general. US-Mexico relations and NAFTA may be contributing to South America's sense of dissatisfaction. As close as they are as neighbors, the United States and Mexico are very different economically, politically and culturally, and the US is perceived as a disinterested neighbor - save for periods of opportunistic intervention. This paper looks at some of the problems associated with NAFTA's conception and implementation, and US-Mexico relations, for examples of what the United States might be doing right or wrong. It attempts to review many of the political and structural problems that Mexico has experienced in the twenty-five years leading up to NAFTA, with the objective of identifying opportunities for the U.S. to assist its neighbor in its struggles with income inequality and corruption, its attempts to achieve free and fair elections, and in general, Mexico's attempts to modernize. These bypassed opportunities, along with some of the detrimental effects of NAFTA, may be projecting a negative image of the United States to the South American countries - a negative image that can be reversed.


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