Mexico and Argentina: A Tale of Two Countries

Angel Jaramillo Torres

The two premiere writers of Mexico and Argentina, Octavio Paz and Jorge Luis Borges, had an uneasy relationship with their respective homelands. Despite having worked as a civil servant and diplomat for the Mexican government, Paz became a formidable critic of the twentieth-century Mexican political regime, which the Peruvian writer, Mario Vargas Llosa, famously called the perfect dictatorship. As for Borges, although he has written several of the best lines of love for Argentina, he did not share many of the cultural traits upheld by his compatriots. In particular, he was not shy to excoriate Peronism, a political movement which he regarded as both vulgar and authoritarian.

Mexico and Argentina should be seen as strategically relevant for the United States because of their regional hegemony in the southern part of the Western Hemisphere. According to the Dutch political scientist, Nicholas John Spykman, the United States became a worldwide hegemon in the twentieth century by first taking control of what he calls the “American Mediterranean.”

The Caribbean divides the Western Hemisphere into two geographically different regions. Among the three largest Latin American nations in the area north of the Amazonian jungle, Mexico continues to be the most politically and economically stable. As for the area south of the Ecuadorian tropical rainforest, Brazil and Argentina have historically shared hegemony in the region. For most of the last twenty years, the relations between the two South American nations have mostly been cordial, as left-wing quasi-populist leaderships in each country were able to forge a bilateral relation founded on mutual interests. This may no longer be the case. Last year Brazilians elected the right-wing populist, Jair Bolsonaro, as president, whereas later this year the victory of left-wing Peronism in Argentina is nearly unavoidable. Ideologically speaking, Brazil and Argentina will likely become rivals rather than partners.

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