Political commentator, Michael Barone, recently wrote that American perception of a “Mexico convulsed by violent drug wars ,” and as a hopelessly impoverished backwater nation from which “hundreds of thousands of desparate immigrants flee” projects an out-of-date image.

According to Barone, the drug war that once dominated U.S. and other media’s coverage of the country is, today, hardly an issue in most of the Mexican Republic.  He also cites Pew Hispanic Center information to point out that net new migration to the United States from Mexico has been cut to virtually nil for the last six years. In some quarters, however, American perception of Mexico has not caught up with this new reality.

The bulk of the changes that are molding today’s Mexico have been in the making for a full generation. The country that was once ruled by the monolithic PRI, or,  the interestingly named “Institutional Revolutionary Party,” for a period of seventy-one uninterupted years, is now a stable multi-party democracy that has moved from possessing what was essentially a closed economy to one which is today among the world’s most open and forward thinking.

Mexico began to open to the world when, in 1988, Carlos Salinas and George H.W. Bush began to speak to one another, and Canadian officials, about creating a North American Free Trade zone. The NAFTA was eventually signed into law by president Bill Clinton on January 1, 1994.

After Mexico joined the economic partnership with its North American neighbors, it then reformed its political system. The election of Vicente Fox, from the conservative PAN, or, National Action Party, effectively put the end to seven decades of continuous one part rule by the PRI. Neither Fox or his PAN successor, Felipe Calderon, were were able to achieve some of the reforms that would be required to further invigorate Mexico’s national economy.

In 2012, the PRI regained the nation’s presidency, when Enrique Peña Nieto assumed office. Where his predecessors failed in implementing much needed change in critical areas, over the course of 2013, he was successful in getting key reforms passed through a divided Mexican Congress in the areas of education, labor, taxes and energy.

With the drug violence becoming a thing of the past, Mexico is increasingly becoming a nation with a growing and thriving middle-class This is largely due to the steady crafting and implementation of policies to promote manufacturing in Mexico that have successfully created tens of thousands of jobs in recent years.  These new positions have improved the economic lot of much of the nation’s citizenry.

The image of an economically hobbled, drug war ravaged country is a thing of the past. American perception of Mexico is out-dated. It is time to recognize  things as they are today.

Read the primary source for this post at Rasmussen Report.