NAFTA has clearly resulted in astronomical trade increases between the U.S. and Mexico. Since 1993, the value of two-way U.S. trade with Mexico almost tripled, reaching $232 billion in 2002, and continues to grow twice as fast as U.S. trade with the rest of the world. As the numbers increase, so do the opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Texas has increased its exports to Canada and Mexico by over $10 billion since NAFTA started. The Department of Commerce claims that 19,000 jobs are created for every $1 billion in added exports. Using that formula, NAFTA has created 190,000 jobs in Texas. Other job estimates claim higher numbers. NorAm Energy (Houston), J.C. Penney (Dallas), Dave & Buster's Inc. (Dallas), and American Telesource International Inc. (San Antonio) are among those Texas companies that have benefited from NAFTA.
An oft-repeated aphorism: “Latin America is a beggar atop a mountain of gold.”
Some Theories: Dictatorship and instability. Most analysts of modern Latin America have stressed the area’s political instability, marked frequently by dictatorship. Ill-equipped people? Some early views: Latin America could not achieve democracy because dark-skinned peoples (Indians and blacks) were unsuited for it; because passionate Latin tempers would not stand it; because tropical climates somehow prevented it; or because Roman Catholic doctrines inhibited it.
Modernization Theory: economic growth would generate the social change that would in turn make possible more “developed” politics. Rural → Urban → change in values A middle class would emerge to play a progressive and moderating role. Latin America and its citizenries were not so inherently “different” from Europe and North America. Instead they were simply “behind.” (p. 6) Instead of spreading general prosperity, economic growth in the 1960s and 1970s generally made income distribution more unequal. The gap in living standards between city and countryside grew. Domestic capital’s ability to compete with the huge transnational firms declined. (p. 6)
Problems with Modernization Theory Politics took an authoritarian turn, producing military governments. (p. 7) Why? …antidemocratic politics was (and remains) a product of a Roman Catholic and Mediterranean world view that stressed the need for harmony, order, and the elimination of conflict. (p. 7) Dependency Theory: By its intrinsic character, “dependent development” generated inequities, allocating benefits to sectors participating in the world market and denying them to other groups.
Problems with Dependency Theory The proponents of “dependency theory,” as it quickly came to be known, maintained that economic dependency leads to political authoritarianism. By the mid-1990s almost all countries of the region, with the conspicuous exception of Cuba, had elected governments.
Scholars approached recent political and economic developments with intellectual caution. Instead of launching grand theories, such as modernization or dependency, political analysts stressed the role of beliefs, ideas, and human conviction. (p. 10) The Move Away from Grand Theories