David R. Ayón, who focuses on U.S.-Mexican and Latino politics, was a contributing writer for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States Latinas in the United States. He is a senior research associate at the Center for the Study of Los Angeles, where he is also the U.S. Director of the binational Focus Mexico/Enfoque México project.
Though no one is likely to mistake Mexico for a Muslim country--even one of the friendly, oil-exporting ones--the United States' declaration of war on terrorism has forced its southern neighbor into a predicament not altogether different from the one faced by moderate Middle Eastern countries like Oman or Saudi Arabia. If the country's government does not actively support the U.S. coalition against terror, it risks international ostracism and alienation from America; but if it appears too eager to support U.S. ventures abroad, it risks losing political support at home. Indeed, the foreign policy of Mexico's president, Vicente Fox, which before September 11 had made a closer relationship with the United States its top priority, is now teetering atop a smoldering volcano.