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Sunday, July 16, 2006

COLUMN: MY INTERVIEW WITH MEXICO'S FELIPE CALDERON

Will Felipe Calderón, the official winner of Mexico's contested July 2 elections, be a champion of globalization, human rights and closer ties with Washington if he becomes president? Or will Mexico's political reality force him to leave these campaign promises behind? When I interviewed Calderón at length on foreign policy issues last week, these were key questions I wanted to find out. Read the full column, with Calderon's statements, and my own conclusions.

25 Comments:

Anonymous Mousqueton said...

Dear Andres:

You have to rid yourself of the Miami Herald marketing constraints that force a Cuban slant on almost every article you right.
I was watching Dan Rather on Larry King Live last night and I could not help but think about you. He explained how news organizations today are guided by ratings and focus groups instead of the simple and unbiased public service duty of covering, what he calls, “news that matter”.
Maybe what we need to do is start a campaign to get you on national television? While not completely, that would give you more independence.

The most important thing that Calderon mentions in your interview is that regardless of the pressing foreign policy issues with the United States, Mexico will make pursuing strong relations with Latin America a high priority during his tenure. It was about time!

The second thing is that he is looking for a “third path” in dealing with the immigration issue. Not that it will work, but certainly it means that he is trying to avoid the current polarizing positions.

The third comment is that he is committed to economic development through free trade, investment and open markets. That doesn’t mean that he will champion an indiscriminate free market policy but that is not only understandable but reasonable. For all the free market and globalization talk, the US remains one of the most protectionist markets when it comes to Pan American trading.

Last and, in this case, least, he will keep the “status quo” with Cuba and Venezuela. This makes sense because both cases do not even rise to the status of a priority in geopolitical terms.

I must say though that I am disappointed with your final comment were you attempt to define Calderon’s commitment to Democracy by his position on the Cuba issue. We have closer ties with Communist and certainly totalitarian regimes such as the ones in China, Vietnam and even Pakistan and no one in his right mind would insinuate that we are not committed to Democracy. We are well regarded as hypocrites because of it but not undemocratic.

There are no morals in politics; it is not a religion. Presidents are elected to look after the well being of their citizens and everything is fair play as long as they deliver on that promise.

Finally, I would have liked to hear from Calderon, as it was wisely brought up by a.m. mora y leon in a comment on your blog, if he had any plans to empower the Mexican people by given more political and economic autonomy to the states and if he feels that this would indeed contribute to a stronger democracy in Mexico.

3:25 PM  
Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

I don't agree with Mous who thinks that Andres put a Miami Cuban marketing slant on it. The coming death of Castro is going to be one of the most momentous events of the century, it's perfectly legitimate to ask about that, and it tells us a lot about Calderon, his limits, his perspective. I hope he's lying and intends to explicitly destabilize the brutal tyranny, but let's wait and see, the information from the interview is valuable.

Good work, Andres!

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Mousqueton said...

A.M. Mora y Leon:

I am sorry I have to say this but you can not be in the procession and the church at the same time. You advocate a Mexican intervention in Cuba that you resent from Chavez in every other country. You justify your undemocratic position because you believe it to be righteous but the fact is that every extremist believes their position to be righteous as well.

As much as I despise Castro and for that matter, Chavez, the fact is that Cuba will be free only when the Cuban people decide to fight for their freedom.

If at all, Calderon’s refusal to take an extremist position on Cuba and/or Venezuela makes him a real democrat.

As for the pompous comment on Castro’s death being “one of the most momentous events of the century”, you need to clarify for whom. It will certainly be a momentous event for the Cuban-American community in Miami, and rightly so I may add, as well as for the media eager for ratings and sales but for the rest of the world and certainly for most of Latin America it will be just a newsworthy event.

2:44 PM  
Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

Mous: Pompous? Hardly. The source of all evil in Latin America springs from the Castro nexus.

The bearded beast is the be-all and end-all of inspiration of the dangerous left, the grand Stalin the far-left cringes down to. There is no dissent - what castro wants, they want. Without Castro, a living god is gone and thinking minds can unfold.

Castro is a radiating sun of communism to these guys. Nobody else comes close. The fact that Eastern Europe, the Far East and all those places had no cult of personality to bow down to has a lot to do with why communism has absolutely no traction in the normal parts of the world anymore.

You need to read up on why Castro matters in this part of the world. He looks so ragtag, so scarecrow, so failed, but that's because we live in the West. To people in countries that are still trying to figure out how to develop, Castro is a glorious polestar. Even to people who aren't 100% totalitarian leftwing. I recommend the chapter on Castro worship in Carlos Alberto Montaner/Alvaro Vargas Llosa's excellent book, "The Complete Guide To The Latin American Idiot"

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Mousqueton said...

a.m. mora y leon:

I really enjoy your comments; you are certainly an intelligent and educated person. I do not agree with you on many issues and certainly I disagree with your high concept of the Montaner/Llosa book, which by the way I feel ashamed to say that I have read, but hey, that is what free speech is all about.

In any event, I do think Andres is long over due on national television and therefore I have started an iPetition and blog to promote bringing the Oppenheimer Report to one of the national Hispanic TV networks. Please sign it and spread the word.

I do not know if it will work and I am absolutely certain that Andres is going to hate it, but, I think it is worth trying and what can I say, this is one off those few blogger privileges.

OPPENHEIMER TO NATIONAL TV

4:06 PM  
Blogger Boli-Nica said...

Mexico has historically maintained a foreign policy US, based on previous interventions. And its not only nostalgia, all Mexicans needed to do was read Texas textbooks where kids were taught a myth where white Texans were heroes and Mexicans played the villains, and that when Lyndon Johnson went to lay a wreath on the Martyr Children of Chapultepec, there was a firestorm of condemnations in Texas from politicians and the public - showing where the Texas myth was strong.

The Mexican mythology, which resound powerfully is based on Juarez famous saying of "respect for foreign rights is peace" or something like that.

So the US should know in that it can not be seen as publically forcing Mexico to do anything, and Bush's administration has been a plodding and clumsy dinasour in many ways.

Its not because its right or wrong, it is because it just does not work. You can get a lot more done behind the scenes quietly. And if enough distance is given, the Chavez and Fidels of the world dig their own grave.

After 2003 when the US started keeping a much lower profile in Latin America. Thats when Chavez went ballistic and got massive backlash from everyone in Latin America.

12:50 AM  
Blogger Manuel A. Tellechea said...

Boli-nica:

It was Harry Truman who laid the wreath at the Monument to the boy-martyrs of Chapultepec, an act of political courage on his part since all his advisors counseled him against it because it could alienate Texans and other Southerners. The Mexican honor guard at the ceremony, composed of military cadets, broke out in tears when President Truman laid the wreath. Sometimes symbolic acts can mean more in bilateral relations than treaties. Back then, the U.S. was breaking down walls with Mexico; now it is building them.

5:57 AM  
Blogger Manuel A. Tellechea said...

Hypocrisy is writ large in Mexican-Cuban relations over the last 50 years. Castro's rebels were trained in Mexico and the "Granma" expedition was launched from there. Mexican presidents have traditionally supported the Castro regime because of a longstanding entente cordiale whereby Mexico refrains from challenging Castro and Castro refrains from fomenting revolution in Mexico. Although it is doubtful that Castro has ever observed his part of the bargain, it is certainly true that Mexico has scrupulously held up its end. Castro is regarded by many Mexicans, both on the left and the right, as the avenger of the historic wrongs committed by the U.S. against Latin America. The poor Cuban people alone pays the price and suffers the consequences of this insane policy of revanchism by proxy.

6:22 AM  
Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:29 PM  
Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

I know many Mexicans who say they've been to Cuba. When I hear that from them, my reply is:

"Mexico's much better, isn't it?"

The universal reply is yes. And the Mexicans seem to appreciate that observation.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Manuel A. Tellechea said...

Mora:

I agree. Ordinary Mexicans know the truth about Cuba, or if they don't know, they pick it up fast enough when they visit the island. I think the fact that we both speak the same language is the determining factor for why Mexicans "get it" and American and Canadian tourists don't (for the most part).

The plutocrats who ran Mexico under the PRI didn't have an ideology in common with Castro, but they did have a culture of corruption and venality in common. Their praise and support for Castro must be understood in that context also.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Boli-Nica said...

Miguel....for some reason I confused them, thought it was something I read in an LBJ bio.

As for that tacit agreement b/ween Castro and the P.R.I., that was the view that Central Americans had during the Cold War. I remember as soon as the Zapatista's came out, Central Americans were saying..."looks like the deal is over"

But if there was that understanding , there was another one with the U.S., which meant that the C.I.A. would be able to spy on the Cubans- sometimes with Mexican authorities discreet cooperation

5:12 PM  
Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

Good point, Boli.

Remember that Aldrich Ames picked up his commie Colombian coconspirator wife in Mexico City in the 1980s, must've been commie spy central back in those days.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andres, the USA/Canada/Anglos are NOT the babysitters of you Hispanics. It is not up to us to create infrastructure and jobs in the poorest parts of Mexico. It is up to Mexico and the rest of Latin America to create their own jobs and infrastructure in their own countries. Surely you Hispanics are capable of doing so, as it is you Hispanics who proudly proclaim you "made modern Miami".

Paul Thorsen
PThorsen240@aol.com

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what about French Canadian? May they?
Of course, Hispanics are babysitters of your children. You do not know much about that job.
Don't you like Miami? How old are you?

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