Mexico's Macho Mood

Oil brings confidence—and a new relationship with the U.S.

It was an uncommonly revealing photographic session. Posing in the Rose Garden outside the Oval Office of the White House last week, President Carter and his guest, Mexican President José López Portillo, 59, flashed toothy smiles and made an awkward attempt to stand together arm in arm. But the transparent effort to present a buddy-buddy image tailed to camouflage the uneasy relations between the circumspect Carter and the blunt, ebullient Mexican. Their lack of rapport mirrors the testy state of affairs between the U.S. and its angry, increasingly influential neighbor to the south.

For far too long the U.S. tended...

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