Irked Mexicans open alternate consulate

Chicago Tribune/Oscar Avila/[[November 29, 2006]]/ link

Reports that supporters of AMLO of Mexico's PRD party have opened an "alternate Consulate" in Chicago's Gage Park neighborhood. The "self-appointed" consul is Rene Magana, a longtime community activist whose office already provides immigration services. He isn't trying to issue official documents.

Salvador Pedroza, president of the Illinois chapter of Calderon's PAN Party (PAN), said he already has heard from co-workers who had planned to visit the "alternate consulate," without realizing that they could not obtain documents there.

...Martin Unzueta, president of the PRD's Illinois chapter and one of the activists behind the "alternate consulate," said the frustration of local Calderon supporters shows that the unusual protest is achieving its goal of raising awareness.

...Local activists said they decided to try this tactic on their own, although PRD officials in Mexico support them. PRD supporters in other U.S. cities say they hope the concept spreads.

...Pedroza said party officials agreed to open a PAN office in February in the Little Village neighborhood. Pedroza hopes the facility will improve coordination among party activists in both countries.

...Pedroza, for instance, is president of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce and supports PAN's pro-business platform. Unzueta is a labor activist and backs the PRD's push for social justice in Mexico.

'Both were key organizers of the massive immigrant marches in Chicago earlier this year. The march's executive committee included members of Mexico's three main political parties.

Pedroza said he doesn't think the latest ploy will damage that cooperative spirit.

"I hope we're smarter than that," he said. "We should put it aside and continue to work together."

..."As they said, this is symbolic. This is politics," (Mexican Consulate spokesman Cesar Romero) said, noting that PRD supporters have worked with the official consulate on labor rights and other issues. "We don't play that card. We represent the Mexican government, not one party or another party."