I couldn’t be happier that Mexico’s economy is rebounding. After barely 2% average annual growth between 2000 and 2010, the country’s GDP expanded almost 4% in 2011 and 2012. Investment is booming and the middle class is enlarging. Mexico’s manufacturing exports lead Latin America, and its trade as a share of GDP tops China’s. Its No. 53 spot on the World Bank’s ease-of-doing-business rankings far outshines the No. 126 grade of its main regional rival, Brazil; it has signed more free trade agreements (44) than any other country, and it’s enrolling more engineering students than any south of the Rio Grande.
But I emphasize: it’s a trend. It’s not the miracle, the economic version of the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, that so many Mexico cheerleaders from government officials to foreign investors to embassy diplomats are insisting we call it. Yes, good news from Mexico is more than welcome after a decade overshadowed by horrific narco-violence; a more positive conversation about the country is a relief. But no matter how loudly the enthusiasts scold the media for dwelling on Mexico’s mayhem, the cartel killing hasn’t stopped, and many of the socio-economic ills that help breed the brutality persist. The media didn’t just make up the 60,000 gangland murders of the past seven years, or the relentless massacres and beheadings, or reports like the one released last week by Human Rights Watch about the 27,000 Mexicans who have disappeared during the drug war.