Book Review: Opening Mexico The Making of a Democracy, by Julia Preston and Samuel Dillon

 

Reviewed by Bruce Rhodes

 

Very well-written account of the decades-long dominance and eventual fall of the mighty PRI in Mexico. Some reviewers have complained that the book is too long, but I disagree. The narrative moves at a sprightly pace; it reads like a very long feature article in, say, the New York Times (the authors' employer), which, for me, is an appropriate way to tackle the topic. I've read other books on modern Mexican politics and history by more academic auhtors, and found their work turgid and hard to follow.

 

The book does a great job of revealing both the ruthlessness and haplessness of numerous Mexican political figures, as their traditional authoritarian ways are largely washed away by growing numbers of average Mexicans clamouring for democracy.

 

Mexico was not out of the woods upon V. Fox being elected president, and the authors stress this. There are still huge problems with wealth disparity, corruption and drug trafficking. However, the country now has a better chance to address these issues with an electoral system that is more transparent than it has ever been, and with a populace that has a taste for greater political freedom now that they have seen that it was possible to vote out the venerable PRI.