Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Capturing Mexican Opinion

I've put together a 'quick and dirty' translation of today's editorial in Mexico City's "El Universal" on Bush's immigration speech and the Mexican response. I'm not posting it because I agree with it, but because I think it's useful to know what's being said in other countries about our policies.

Americans are criticized for not knowing much about other countries. It's always interesting to me to see the same blind spot in others' perception of us. For example, a highlight of the El Universal editorial is the Kent State Massacre. Yet, El Universal would probably be shocked if the New York Times editorialized that Americans should fear the Mexican government because in 1968, Mexican soldiers massacred hundreds of student protesters in Mexico City.

Anyway, my translation:

US: Militarized Border

It would be very sad for the government of president Vicente Fox to try to disguise something that's obvious for all to see: the virtual militarization of the US-Mexico border.

If things follow the course set out by the White House, within a month, approximately, the American National Guard will begin operations at the border with our country. This is an armed force sent only because Washington cannot use the army in their own territory, except in case of defense from an outer attack.

Bush tips his hand when he says in his speech "Mexico is our neighbor and our friend. We will continue working cooperatively to improve security on both sides of our border, to confront common problems like narcotrafficking and crime, and to reduce illegal immigration." That is to say, there is an express agreement to fight illegal immigration: in the case of Bush because it is his responsibility, and at the same time an urgent requirement of the national security of that country, taking into account that he's looking toward internal politics with this measure, at a time when his popularity is scraping bottom.

In the case of Fox, because he's supposed to be a friend and because he's a "cooperative" neighbor under all circumstance and whose reliability has not diminished, in spite of criticisms for it in Mexico.

So it's unacceptable that Fox tries to hide a truth that all can see. The northern border will be blocked to Mexican immigrants by the National Guard, about which one remembers the 4th of May of 1970, when they shot to death 4 students at Kent State University, in Ohio, who protested the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia. Another nine students were wounded. A subsequent investigation showed that the National Guard was never in danger, although some students threw stones.

If they acted so nervously toward their young compatriots, we don't even want to imagine what they would do to defenseless Mexican and Central American immigrants who cross the Rio Bravo [Mexico does not use our name - the Rio Grande], jump fences and look for work in that country, crossing the desert or in sealed trucks. All this is sad and embarrassing on both sides, because Bush tries to diminish the relevance of intervention by the National Guard, and because Fox tries to disguise the fact. Even for some observers it could wind up more dangerous that it's the National Guard and not the army that's in charge of taking care of the border.

Still, the National Guard won't be able to contain a human wave that's become part of the United States like humidity, silent but effective. Twelve million people have been able to do it in recent years, and while the figure is nothing for us to be proud over, the certain thing is that they exist and that the Mexican government has an obligation to safeguard their lives and to ensure that over there, their civil and human rights are guaranteed, as people who contribute to the strength of that nation.

To do otherwise is to betray to those who have left and - on the part of the American government - would be a great ingratitude.

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