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Friday, February 17, 2006

Mexican sovereignty

Communication through the iron curtain

La comunicacion por la cortina de hierro

PROGRESO WEEKLY February 16, 2006 Violation of Mexican sovereignty by the U.S. By Eduardo Santana Castellón

Two weeks ago, through the application of the Helms-Burton Law, the government of the United States obliged the Maria Isabel Sheraton hotel of Mexico City to evict a delegation of Cubans who were participating in a meeting about oil business.Washington's pressure was confirmed both by hotel officials and organizers of the event. The delegates' only crime was their nationality. This action violates the laws and principles against the extraterritorial application of foreign laws, against discrimination, and against activities that affect the sovereign development of a country. Once more we see the high-handedness with which the administration of George W. Bush tramples Mexico's sovereignty and the tepid manner in which President Vicente Fox's administration responds to those pressures.
In recent years and responding to pressure from the Bush administration, Fox limited the stay in Mexico of Cuba's President, Fidel Castro, during a meeting held by the United Nations Organization, using the sadly remembered expression "You eat and go."
The Mexican government also agreed to vote against Cuba at the forum of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, a strategy that has more to do with the United States' hegemonic plans toward Cuba than with the legitimate defense of human rights.
CIA chief Peter Goss declared publicly that Mexico was the UnitedStates' "back yard." The comment did not affect the leader of U.S. espionage, but the same comment in the voice of Adolfo Aguilar Zinzer, Mexico's chief delegate to the United Nations, during a speech to university students, generated protests from the Bush administration, which obliged the Mexican government to recall his own U.N. delegate.
After Cuba, Mexico probably has been the country most harmed by the extraterritorial and internationally condemned Helms-Burton Law, which has forced Mexican businessmen to stand back and lose million-dollar contracts with Cuba in strategic areas, such as tourism, communication and many others.
Now, the U.S. forces Mexican hotels to discriminate against clients on the basis of their nationality.At a time when representatives of the U.S. government murder Mexicans on the border and violate their rights, builds walls to impede the movement of humans, reclassifies illegal immigrants as criminals and now defines who can and cannot stay in Mexican hotels, we need strong answers from the Mexican government in defense of its sovereignty. Unfortunately, the initial response of the Foreign Relations Secretariat was to say merely that the Sheraton incident was a matter "between private parties." Later, it rectified itself, stating that it would initiate an investigation, because U.S. laws cannot be applied in Mexico and discrimination is forbidden. The Secretariat declined to file a protest with the U.S. government over the pressure exerted against the hotel.
The government of Mexico City, associated with the center-left Democratic Revolutionary Party, was more vigorous, stating that the Sheraton hotel specifically violated the laws on Business Establishments, Consumer Protection and Antidiscrimination and promising that sanctions would be imposed, which might include a shutdown of the hotel.
In the next several days we shall see if the federal government puts up an effective defense of its own sovereignty or if it continues a policy whose objective, in Fox's own words, is not to "distance"itself from the United States.
Eduardo Santana Castellón is a professor at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico.

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