Poll: Country neutral on U.S. war

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I guess when things are bad you find out who your real friends are. Contrast this response to our other neighbor Canada.

For educational purposes only


Poll: Country neutral on U.S. war BY JANE BUSSEY jbussey@herald.com

In recent trips to the United States, President Vicente Fox of Mexico has portrayed the neighboring countries as one integrated economic family unit. But as Washington seeks its allies' support against the forces of terrorism, Mexicans are sounding like distant cousins.

Despite the ties between the two nations -- nearly eight years of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the presence of 20 million people of Mexican descent in the United States and any other cultural links -- the terrorist attacks have brought out a side of Mexican nationalism and anti-Americanism that pundits had pronounced buried.

An opinion poll published in the daily Reforma showed that 62 percent of Mexicans said the country should remain neutral in the U.S. war on terrorism, 16 percent called for opposing it, and only 17 percent voiced support.

``We are partners of the Americans, but in no way are we their lackeys,'' declared Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes.

In the early hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda came out strongly backing the Bush administration's war against terrorism. Since then, lawmakers from the left-of-center Party of the Democratic Revolution and the recently unseated Institutional Revolutionary Party have spent more time accusing Castañeda of giving Washington a blank check than condemning Osama bin Laden, the Saudi multimillionaire accused of masterminding the attacks.

When author Guadalupe Loaeza called a sympathy rally at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City a week after the attack, only 10 supporters showed up.

In San Cristóbal de las Casas, Catholic Bishop Felipe Arizmendi told parishioners the United States ``has generated violence to protect its interests and now it is reaping what it sowed.''

This is not just the view of the political elite. While many Mexicans have been saddened and shocked by the attacks, several Mexico City residents said friends or acquaintances had commented that the United States got what it deserved.

``I was at a tea party, and one woman, who goes shopping in the United States several times a year, said that the attack was deserved and the United States had done damage in Latin America and everywhere,'' Mexico City resident Josefina Rivera said.

It's the sort of reaction that could undermine Fox's plan to have Washington agree to a guest-worker treaty and begin development aid.

Mexicans' love-hate relationship with the United States is nurtured in public schools, where Mexican textbooks still highlight the loss of over half of Mexico's territory to the United States and U.S. invasions.

Missing from the controversy has been a strong stance from Fox. After he canceled Sept. 16 Independence Day celebrations in Mexican consulates across the United States, Fox made little comment until criticism mounted.

Several prominent Mexicans called on him to step into the fray and express solidarity with the United States and sympathy for the thousands of victims, who included at least 15 Mexicans.

``Historic offenses do not justify abandoning moral solidarity,'' historian Enrique Krauze said in a letter to Reforma. ``For this reason and because of the nature of the bilateral agenda, I think that President Fox should make a clear gesture of sympathy to the American people.''

Similarly, Mexican poet Homero Aridjis says of Fox: ``He hasn't called for a minute of silence. He hasn't laid a wreath.''

Aridjis, who is president of the writers' association PEN International, adds, ``We are not talking about military aid, that is another thing. This is about an act of solidarity by the Mexican people for the American victims.''

Under growing pressure, Fox began to speak. On Wednesday, he repeated to reporters his unconditional support for the United States -- while calling on Washington to respect human rights. Thursday he made new comments: ``We are living an unusual moment in which international peace is threatened by terrorism and by governments that shelter terrorists.''

But this was still a world apart from the outpouring of national support by European leaders immediately after the Sept. 11 attack, the thousands of people who lay flowers at U.S. embassies around the world, and the journey by world leaders to Washington to offer personal support to Bush.

The Bush administration, concentrating on drumming up Mideast support, has no public complaint about Mexico. ``We haven't started breaking down Latin American reactions,'' said a State Department official in Washington.

``We noted Mexico was supportive in the Organization of American States resolution last week.''

Andrés Rozental, a former deputy foreign minister in Mexico who serves as a policy advisor to Fox, said the president remained in close contact with Bush and the countries were cooperating on intelligence sharing and border security.

-- K (infosurf@yahoo.com), October 02, 2001


The Mexicans have revealed their true colors and we have discovered that, at best, we are lukewarm friends. The Mexicans need to walk a mile in our shoes. Heaven forbid a WTC type incident happens down there. I wonder if they appreciate our tourism dollars?? It makes me think twice about visiting a country who shows less vocal condemnation than Arafat did (genuine or not).

-- Steve McClendon (ke6bjd@yahoo.com), October 02, 2001.

We never did get the proof (that terrorists/bin Laden did this) as we were promised. And I don't think the Mexicans ever envisioned the Nafta agreement as being an endorsement for the use of nuclear weapons. Maybe they deserve a little slack.

-- Ken (n4wind@sonic.net), October 02, 2001.

We were PROMISED proof that bin Laden was responsible for the attacks? NAFTA was an endorsement for the use of nuclear power? Boy, am I confused.

What kind of twisted reasoning is this?

-- Raymond (raymondpljohn@webster.net), October 02, 2001.

Perhaps the citizens of Mexico understand that the New York tragedy, while unspeakably horrible, still had fewer casualties than the tens of thousands who die EVERY DAY around the world from malnutrition and preventable diseases. But their deaths don't get recorded by CNN.

It is widely documented that US based transnational corporations systematically extract "resources" from countries such as Mexico, which contributes to these problems. These problems are very complex, with numerous causes - but unfortunately, US foreign policies usually exacerbate them, not solve them. Perhaps this is why the people there aren't willing to support global military escalation that could trigger World War Three.

9/11 was also the 28th anniversary of the military coup in Chile, where the US supported fascism (literally) over democracy. If we're going to make war on terrorism and its supporters, the US should allow Henry Kissinger to be tried for his war crimes. See www.counterpunch.org That would be a true test of the US government's sincerity. Unfortunately, after 9/11, the US Congress confirmed John Negroponte as US ambassador to the United Nations - Negroponte was of course the Reagan administration ambassador to Honduras, where US military policies (Contra War) encouraged massive terrorism against the civilian populations of the region - perhaps a quarter million dead in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, nearly all of them civilians. In Honduras, US military support came while the Honduran military created "Battalion 316," which murdered Honduran citizens. What is the message sent to the rest of humanity by appointing this person as our representative?

If we want an end to "terrorism," it will probably require an end to double-standards.

-- mark (mrobinowitz@nospam.igc.org), October 02, 2001.

``We are partners of the Americans, but in no way are we their lackeys,'' declared Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes.

Sounds like an inferiority complex to me. The FAR left wing (I don't mean "liberals") element in Mexico is still very strong, something typical of any country that is much poorer than their neighbors...who they happen to blame instead of the corruption that ran that country for decades.

We never did get the proof (that terrorists/bin Laden did this) as we were promised. And I don't think the Mexicans ever envisioned the Nafta agreement as being an endorsement for the use of nuclear weapons. Maybe they deserve a little slack.

What planet are you from? NAFTA is a trade agreement.

Now, there's the Rio Pact. THAT is the mutual defense agreement.

Mexico is a signatory of the Rio Pact that clearly says that an attack on one is an attack on all. Mexico was shown the proof, just like NATO. It was not released to the public to protect people, in the MidEast, who would be killed.

IF Mexico City was attacked, I guarantee you, we would be there in what ever capacity they needed...especially humanitarian and rescue. No one expects Mexico to supply military support when they are not equipped to do so -- but -- an enthusiastic unified statement of solidarity against the attacks and in support of the victims (the Amerccan people), from the western hemisphere is the least we can expect.

Excuse me, where have you heard we are going to use nuclear weapons except on foaming at the mouth web sites/publications run by hysteric left wing US haters, including Americans?

Get a grip! JB

-- Jackson Brown (Jackson_Brown@deja.com), October 02, 2001.

NATO seems to think Bin Laden did it. But that isn't the point any more. Is he a terrorist? Yes, then it's time for him and others like him and those that offer refuge to start counting their final days on earth. As far as US hegemony: We have made mistakes and will probably continue to do so. We have also saved the world a few times too. I concur with your view on Negroponte but I don't believe he has been confirmed by the Senate as of yet. The Senate should ask some very pointed questions.

-- Steve McClendon (ke6bjd@hotmail.com), October 02, 2001.

In all fairness, I have spoken to people of AMERICANS of Mexican extraction in the last few weeks. They are appalled at the Mexican government's response.

-- K (infosurf@yahoo.com), October 02, 2001.

Sorry for the typo in the previous message.

It should have read:

In all fairness, I have spoken to AMERICANS of Mexican extraction in the last few weeks. They are appalled at the Mexican government's response.

-- K (infosurf@yahoo.com), October 02, 2001.

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