Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Lynching" an ambassador

Figuratively speaking, that is what happened to Mr. Carlos Pascual, USA ambassador to Mexico until recently ( March 2011) . The dramatic word "lynch" came from a lady radio commentator whose name I did not catch. Wikileaks had revealed that in a report to Pres. Barack Obama, Amb. Pascual said the fight against organized crime is inefficient due to internal strife in the army and navy , described Mexican President Felipe Calderon as "inseguro" and the presidential aspirants of the ruling party, PAN (Partido Accion Nacional) as "hombres grises" meaning colorless. ( I am quoting from "La Jornada", a local rag.)

Pres. Felipe Calderon felt betrayed and hurt, to say the least. As expected, Amb . Pascual was attacked relentlessly by legislators, the academe, the labor sector and the public in general. Had he not resigned, he could have been declared "persona non grata." However, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, came to the rescue, praised Pascual's good work in helping Mexico fight drug lords and announced that the ambassador would stay for a bit to insure orderly transition. She declared that his replacement will be appointed after the Mexican presidential elections (next year!) ; a charge d'affaires will take over in the meantime. Was that a veiled threat?

Amb. Carlos Pascual, a Cuban-American, used to be connected with the Brookings Institute and, curiously enough, his previous diplomatic assignments were to "precarious" states like the Ukraine, so when he was sent to Mexico, there was a lot of "eyebrow raising" here. Be that as it may, Amb. Pascual made frequent visits to Los Pinos (Mexico's Malacanan) , had the ear of the President with whom he was reported to have discussed and perrhaps planned "Rapido y Furioso" (Fast and Furious) a controversial deal that secretly sent 2,000 high-powered arms to Mexico, the unmanned flights of drone planes over Mexican territory, and heaven knows what other obscure operations which Mexicans fear may be violating their Constitution.

In a radio interview, Mexixcan historian, Dr. Lorenzo Meyer, said that was certainly not the first time a US ambassador to Mexico has had shown his hand. In 1853, Amb. James Gadsen negotiated with the corrupt Pres. Antonio de Santa Ana the sale of a vast part of Mexican territory to the USA. The " Gadsen Purchase" so infuriated the Mexican people there were many uprisings and revolts against Santa Ana who was overthrown by the Ayutla revolution.

Dr. Meyer also related that in 1912, when Francisco Madero became president after the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, US Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson thought him a weak reformist so he openly cultivated the friendship of Madero's rivals like Gen. Victoriano Huerta. Emboldened, the latter rose against Madero and during a meeting, supposedly at the US embassy, Amb. Wilson advised Huerta to "do what was best for Mexico". Huerta lost no time and Madero was assasinated. For his part, US Pres. William H. Taft believed that Amb. Wilson had gone too far and bade him to stop meddlding in Mexican political affairs. Had there been Wikileaks in those tumultuous times, Ambassadors Gadsen and Wilson could have been lynched.# (written in Mexico city, March 2011)

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