Mexico and the U.S.: Ideology and Reality

Octavio Paz, 68, is one of Mexico's most distinguished avant-garde writers, critics and poets. He is best known for The Labyrinth of Solitude (1950), a classic work that has explained Mexico to foreigners, and to many Mexicans, for more than a generation. In the following piece for TIME, Paz assesses Mexico's complex, often tortured relationship with its overpowering northern neighbor.

The border between Mexico and the U.S. is political and historical, not geographical. There are no natural barriers between the two nations. The Rio Grande does not separate, it unites. But the sameness of...

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