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Conflict Resolution and the Evolution of Cooperation in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Niles M. Hansen

Abstract


Some recent observations by Jorge Bustamante (1985b) provide the point of departure for this paper. He maintains that recent relations between the United States and Mexico have been characterized by tensions whose level has not been seen since the nationalization of U.S. oil interests in Mexico in 1938. Although empirical evidence indicates clearly that bilateral relations have increased in intensity and diversity, the representations of politicians and the press have created "a strong sense that something is going on between Mexico and the United States which is not rational and not congruent with the increasing de facto interdependence between the two countries." Bustamante further points out that "Scholars from both countries must recognize that they are not isolated from, and they cannot extricate themselves from, the seemingly unrelated elements of intergovernmental relationships affecting their work." Thus, "one of the goals of research should be to examine our current binational problems, to expose their causes, and to establish a base for their resolution." Elsewhere, Bustamante argues that the common border is a logical place to begin working out North-South differences because situations that arise there force us to pay attention to each other's thought processes (cited in Weisman 1984, p. 24).

This paper attempts to address the foregoing issues by examining some of the ways in which international interactions at the border create conflicts as well as cooperative undertakings. No effort is made to describe in detail the more or less formal institutions that have been established to provide a framework for transborder interactions. For information in this regard, see for example ANUIES 1981; Chattan 1983; González 1981; International Boundary and Water Commission 1981; U.S. Department of State 1985. Rather, the objectives are to identify the nature of fundamental asumptions that condition transborder interactions and their outcomes; to indicate the consequent policy implications, especially with respect to transborder cooperation; and to suggest feasible approaches that could enhance such cooperation.


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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229

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