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Mexico and the United States

     Mexico is perhaps America's biggest and certainly closest international problem. A previous posting described the meetings held in Berkeley and San Francisco in support of the strikers at the National University of Mexico (UNAM). A similar meeting in Stanford on Friday, March 10 was announced with the distribution of the same message, which was little more than crude propaganda. Two WAISers went to cover the meeting but could not even find it. Possibly it was cancelled because this is finals week when students have other concerns.
     On the same day, a panel of four Mexicans addressed the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on the forthcoming elections. Two of the speakers were especially interesting. One was Luis González Souza, chairman of UNAM's International Relations Department. He accused Fox and Labastida of playing up to Clinton. He seemed to be most sympathetic to Cuautémoc Cárdenas. He dismissed Fox as saying whatever the audience wanted, while Cárdenas was the only on who clearly wanted reforms in NAFTA, which González Souza said helped big business but not the ordinary man. He took the typical Mexican view that all migrants to the U.S., legal and illegal, help the U.S. economy; illegal immigrants keep labor costs down and impose no burden on public services because they are afraid to use them. He paid no attention to U.S. arguments against illegal immigration. In other words, he criticized NAFTA by just the opposite reasons from those of Pat Buchanan and American unions. He unfairly accused Americans of not obeying NAFTA by imposing restrictions on Mexican trucks.
     Marieclaire Acosta Urquidi is a member of Mexico's human rights commission. She ridiculed the Mexican government's plan to give computers to children and have them all learn English. What the people want are roofs over their heads and better salaries for teachers. She described crime in Mexico as out of control; 98% of crimes go unsolved. The police play games. For example, a number of women were tortured and killed in Ciudad Juárez. The police arrested an Egyptian citizen as the suspect in an attempt to prove that it was on the job.
     Meanwhile Mexican public opinion was appalled by the suicide of the second in command at the Justice Department, leaving three notes confessing that the funds discovered in his safety box at City Bank were the product of shady operations. While government officials were obviously stunned, they tried to shift the blame by accusing City Bank of not respecting banking secrecy. In fact, the bank opened the box only after the owner failed to appear in response to a notification by the bank that the boxes were to be moved.
     All this is background for the May visit of President Ernest Zedillo to Washington to meet with President Clinton. They will have much to discuss, and we shall undoubtedly be treated to the usual bland final statements and communiqués.

Ronald Hilton - 3/11/00