North American Trade Agreement

I read with interest the article of Richard Haney "A Stable Mexico, a Secure U.S." (Commentary, Sept. 29), which analyzes some of the political implications of the North American Free Trade Agreement. I fully agree with him: NAFTA is not simply a matter of economics.

It is indeed ironic how things have changed in such a short time. In 1986, analysts in this country, alarmed by the apparent growth of domestic political unrest, the triple-digit inflation rate and a staggering $90-billion external debt, argued that Mexico could be "the next Iran." Six years later, people speak with optimism about our country thanks to the confidence generated by Mexico's successful economic and social reforms.

Today, few people regard Mexico as a security concern. A vastly changed international order as well as economic troubles at home have convinced the U.S. electorate that the time for a greater domestic introspection has arrived.

There is no other country with a more immediate and substantial connection to this country's vital security interests than Mexico. And this is not simply because of geography but also economics. The degree in which our two countries have a "stake" in the economic success of the other is unprecedented. With or without NAFTA, this interdependence provides a stabilizing influence in world politics. Drawn by strong security interests, the U.S. must remain strongly involved in the promotion of free trade, not only in North America but also in the rest of the world. In this sense, NAFTA is the first step in the right direction.

FAUSTO ZAPATA

Consul General of Mexico

Los Angeles

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