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Castro's gone, but not forgotten - PRI rattled as President Fox pushes democracy
San Antonio News-Express - My San Antonio ^ | 03/31/2002 12:00 AM | Susana Hayward - Express-News Mexico City Bureau

Posted on 04/01/2002 4:42:01 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife

MEXICO CITY - In just seven tempestuous minutes, Cuban President Fidel Castro ignited an extraordinary diplomatic brawl with Mexico that could alter relations between the two traditional allies.

Now, Mexicans want to know: Who's lying? Castro or Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda, who has been asked to appear this week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?

Legislators are demanding to know if what Cuban officials allege is true: Did the Mexican government force Castro to leave a U.N. conference in Monterrey earlier this month because President Bush didn't want to be in the same room with the communist leader?

Castañeda, Mexican President Vicente Fox and Bush have denied it. Fox said he was surprised by the allegations and told TV interviewers Thursday night that Cuban and Mexican relations "are very good, as always."

But many here fear the clash could lead to a severing of ties with Cuba.

"We're up against a serious matter that has never before existed in Mexico's foreign policy," said Gustavo Carbajal Moreno, a congressman from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

In last week's congressional sessions, other lawmakers even called for the resignation of Castañeda, who in the past decade abandoned a long-held sympathy for Cuba's socialist government. Some also charged the foreign minister violated the constitution, threatened Mexico's hands-off policy toward Cuba and was becoming a servant of the United States.

The rift probably is the worst since 1959, when Mexico was the only country in Latin America keeping diplomatic ties after Castro's revolution.

The issue has dominated headlines and comes at a time when Fox is strengthening ties with the United States.

Last week, Fox hosted the U.N. International Conference on Financing for Development, a platform that also exhibited to the world Mexico's nascent democracy.

Fox, of the conservative National Action Party, took office in 2000. Since then, he has been a nonstop world traveler, spouting his ideas on trade, immigration, fighting crime and espousing democracy.

At the Monterrey forum, some 50 nations, representatives from international lending agencies and nongovernmental organizations met to discuss slashing poverty in half by 2015.

They agreed to a U.S.-backed agreement in which rich nations would increase aid to poor ones provided they follow free trade policies and respect human rights.

Fox said Mexico was becoming a "bridge" between the rich and poor and would take a more active international role.

But then came Castro.

Last Thursday, the bearded, 75-year-old communist leader addressed the conference. Coming after three days of tedious speeches, Castro stole the show and provided juicy news for bored journalists.

Wearing green fatigues, Castro roared against industrial nations and free markets for creating the vast gaps between rich and poor countries.

"The world economy of today has become a gigantic casino," Castro said, as many participants applauded.

However, the ever-faithful guerrilla hushed the room as he finished his seven-minute speech, a rarity in its brevity. He asked participants for forgiveness, saying he had to leave because of special circumstances "created by my presence here."

The abrupt exit caused a stir, and Cuban officials immediately circulated copies of his speech in a dozen languages.

Speaking off the record, a Cuban Embassy official told reporters Bush had imposed the demand on Mexico.

Meanwhile, a top Mexican Cabinet official said neither the U.S. nor Mexican government would "dignify" Castro with an answer. The official said he doubted the controversy would make the news.

Before the conference, the Fox administration issued a release saying Castro wrote Fox to tell him he would go to Monterrey for a "minimum period."

But Cuba has maximized its impact.

In its government newspaper, Granma, editorials called Castañeda a "diabolical liar" who has tried to "humiliate" the Caribbean-island nation several times since becoming foreign minister.

It charged Mexico was becoming an "instrument" for the U.S. government, which maintains a trade embargo against the country.

Castañeda is a former communist party member and political scientist who was critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement and similar global policies he now embraces. He has written several books, including one on Ché Guevara, the Argentine doctor who turned guerrilla and helped Castro win his revolution.

When he accepted his post with a conservative government, many leftists criticized him.

Castañeda has spoken publicly about human rights violations in Cuba. He met Cuban exiles in Miami and caused a political storm by saying the Mexican Embassy in Havana was "open to all Cubans." Soon after, a group of Cubans on a bus rammed the embassy gates.

Wednesday, Granma provided photographs from Mexican media showing a young Castañeda wearing fatigues and holding a machine gun. It said Castañeda wanted military training to support guerrilla movements in Central America.

On Thursday, Granma's assistant editorial director, Miguel Cornellas, told reporters from the Mexican weekly magazine Proceso that Castañeda wanted to become a guerrilla but didn't join any movement.

"As soon as the first shot was fired during target practice and it flew over his head, he left running," said Cornellas, adding Castañeda is "not a macho and lacks ideology."

Castañeda was in Geneva for a U.N. rights conference and his office had no comment.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; Mexico; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: communism
Commies really hate it when they lose a fellow traveler on their blood soaked road to justice.

Mexicans Want Answers From Castro - Castaneda

[Excerpts] MEXICO CITY (AP) - Alarmed by Cuban President Fidel Castro's sudden departure from a U.N. summit last week, some Mexican lawmakers are demanding explanations from Foreign Secretary Jorge Castaneda.

Castro suddenly left the U.N. development summit in the northern city of Monterrey on Thursday, citing "a special situation created by my participation in this summit."

……… A large group of legislators representing all of Mexico's political parties - except President Vicente Fox's National Action Party - held a news conference Monday demanding Castaneda's resignation and announcing plans for a protest in front of his office.

The controversy has dominated radio talk shows and newspaper headlines for days in Mexico, which has long been Cuba's closest friend in the hemisphere, and where many see that friendship as proof that Mexico doesn't always bend to American wishes.

But Castaneda, once a member of Mexico's Communist Party, has become a prominent critic of Cuba's socialist system in recent years and has repeatedly wandered into the eye of political hurricanes involving the island nation.

Mexico abstained from a resolution before the U.N. Human Rights Commission last year that condemned human rights in Cuba. Still, Cuba's foreign minister accused Castaneda of trying to persuade other countries to back a condemnation.

Castaneda was then publicly chastised in Mexico for commenting that the Cubans were getting "hot under the collar" over the issue. [End Excerpts]

1 posted on 04/01/2002 4:42:01 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Moreno, a congressman from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

Fox, of the conservative National Action Party,

I can't imagine what the political leanings of Susana Hayward might be. Sort of calls into question the accuracy of the rest of the article.

2 posted on 04/01/2002 5:26:42 AM PST by Tex-Con-Man
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To: Tex-Con-Man
The corrupt, Marxist PRI still hold majorities in the Mexican Congress and most mayors are from the PRI. You may not think Fox is conservative but our idea of conservative is a far cry from where the Mexican government is. President Fox is walking a fine line but it is in the right direction. Support for him will go a long way toward shinking the PRI and strengthening Fox's National Action Party. If he can succeed, Mexico could see more conservatism and less communism, more prosperity and less poverty. We need strong, free neighbors and allies.
3 posted on 04/01/2002 5:42:57 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Tex-Con-Man; Cincinatus'Wife
Fox is the America-Acceptable front man for the biggest bunch of intellectually convinced Marxist Latino Intellectuals this side of Bologna.

Fidel is their confidante and counsellor. Mexican and Cuban foreign Policy are usually very well synchronized, so if Fidel wanted to leave the room, he left the room. If he wants to blame the bug-out on Bush, he will. In Mexico, the blame will stick.

There are some elements in the Mexican government that are anti-Fidel. So now, the Mexican Media will punish them.

4 posted on 04/01/2002 5:43:24 AM PST by Francohio
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To: Francohio
I'm not sure I follow your post.

Fox is officially and carefully distancing the Mexican presidency from Castro, the communist dictator of Cuba.
Fox's Mexican Foreign Secretary, Jorge Castaneda, has been very vocal against Castro and his communist regime.

Are you saying this is all a put-on? Why?

5 posted on 04/01/2002 5:59:12 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
"The world economy of today has become a gigantic casino," Castro said, as many participants applauded.

Yep, and the best place to 'gamble' is where the 'customer' has the odds in their favor and where skill at the 'game' is important. The only place luck is involved is where one is born. With capitalism, most everyone can become a 'winner' as opposed to socialism, where almost everyone is a 'loser'.

6 posted on 04/01/2002 10:05:47 AM PST by connectthedots
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To: connectthedots
We are so fortunate to live in the United States. We need to remember it every day and preserve and protect our heritage.
7 posted on 04/02/2002 1:09:51 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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