issue 251 - January 1994
Also Worth Reading on MEXICO
For factual analysis by far the best first stop is Tom Barry's Mexico, a Country Guide, (Resource Center, Albuquerque, 1992). You need look no further if you want to take an interest in Mexican society a bit deeper. Almost everything imaginable is covered in great detail, and there are strong sections on women's and social movements. From the same publisher comes Runaway America by Harry Browne and Beth Sims, which disentangles what's really happening to jobs across the US/Mexico border and outlines a radical alternative agenda for jobs. A sharp documentary account can be found in On the Line: Life on the US-Mexican Border by Augusta Dwyer (Latin America Bureau, London, forthcoming, Spring 1994). I may have missed it, but I reckon the great history of Mexico in English has still to be produced: you could do worse than refer to Distant Neighbours (Vintage 1987) by Alan Riding (published as Inside the Volcano by IB Tauris in the UK) for some crisp comment by a foreign correspondent who got to know Mexico well. Lamentably few Mexican writers of fiction have been translated into English but Carlos Fuentes is always a good read, if sometimes a little obscure and rarefied. His most recent is Christopher Unborn (Picador 1989). From foreign writers of fiction, do try the wonderful 'jungle' books - written before and during the Revolution - of B Traven, whose identity remained a mystery even when The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was made into what remains one of my favourite movies. Most of his novels and short stories now seem to be out of print, but a trip to the library would be well rewarded. Anyone who has not read The Children of Sanchez (Penguin 1964) by Oscar Lewis has missed much more than a classic oral history of a poor family in Mexico City in the 1950s. Rubén Martínez in The Other Side (Verso 1992) writes out of a fresh culture that straddles the fault lines between California and Central America.