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NEW YORK — If you are preparing a Thanksgiving dinner toast, you may want to cherish the fact that the United States is still one single nation, under one flag. Judging from some of the books I’ve been reading lately, it may not be that way for much longer.
Growing numbers of futurologists are forecasting that not only the United States but Mexico and several other Latin American countries are likely to split into smaller states in coming decades. The flag to which you are pledging allegiance today may not be your children’s flag, they say.
Last year, Samuel Huntington, a world-renowned Harvard University political scientist, made headlines with a book called Who We Are, in which he warned with alarm that America’s territorial integrity is being threatened by the country’s growing Hispanic population.
Now, a soon-to-be-published book by Juan Enriquez, a former Harvard professor turned genomics entrepreneur, makes a far more insightful case for the likelihood of new states — or countries — in the Americas.
His book, The Untied States of America, reminds us that, in 1950, the United Nations had 50 member countries. Today, the number has grown to 191.
And the trend seems to be toward more new countries. From 1900 to 1950 the world saw an average of 1.2 new countries a year; from 1950 to 1990 the rate grew to 2.2 new countries a year; and between 1990 and now, to 3.1 new nations a year.
Rather than a Mexican takeover of southern U.S. states, we may see Hispanic populations in southern U.S. states and northern Mexico seeking “in-between states” a la Puerto Rico, perhaps — if they feel alienated from their respective central governments, he says. Watch ongoing regional autonomy drives in Britain and Spain, he says.
In Mexico, Enriquez sees a possible breakup in four nations: the north (“NAFTA country”), Central Mexico (Mexico City and its surroundings), indigenous Mexico (Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca) and the new Maya (Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo).
(Posted on November 29, 2005)