Mexico's' Cold War
Cuba, the United States, and the Legacy of the Mexican Revolution
Cambridge University Press 2015
New Books in Caribbean StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Latin American StudiesNew Books in National SecurityNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network February 7, 2016 Christy Thornton
When former Mexican president Lazaro Cardenas traveled to Havana in 1959 to celebrate the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, he stood shoulder to shoulder with Fidel Castro in front of a crowd of thousands, providing the early sketches of an image of unquestioned Mexican support for revolutionary Cuba that would persist over the next few decades. Mexico was the only country in the Western Hemisphere that defied the United States and refused to break off relations with Castro’s government, and successive presidential administrations in Mexico cited their own country’s revolutionary legacy in their enduring professions of support. But the story told in Renata Keller‘s fascinating new book, Mexico’s Cold War: Cuba, the United States, and the Legacy of the Mexican Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2015) paints a rather more complicated story: one in which leaders in all three countries craft official public narratives contradicted by their actions behind-the-scenes, and one in which the optics of foreign policy are undercut by the realities of domestic politics. Using now-restricted Mexican security files, US government documents, and Cuban Foreign Ministry sources, Mexico’s Cold War details how the Cuban Revolution reverberated within Mexico to produce an often contradictory and frequently repressive politics that ultimately resulted in an internal dirty war–one that has parallels in the Mexico of today.
Renata Keller is an Assistant Professor of International Affairs at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, where she teaches classes on Latin American politics and US-Latin American relations.