Jorge Castaneda, Fifth Columnists, and the Los Angeles Times
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Yesterday former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castaneda spoke as part of the Los Angeles Public Library-associated Zocalo program. I attended (after first going to the library where I thought it would be and then rushing over to the Music Center where it actually was) and was able to ask him whether Mexico had a "Fifth Column" inside the U.S. His answer was somewhat in line with what you'd expect; feel free to skip ahead to read it.
JC discussed the political situation in Latin America and, among many other points, said he thinks there are two forms of leftism there: that represented by Castro, Hugo Chavez, and others, versus the other form represented by Lula, Bachelet, and others. He's not in favor of the former group, but he thinks LA needs more of the latter. (Later on he said, in effect, that it's good that there's a needler like Chavez around, but that no one had really appointed him to the role he fills.)
Then, he moved to the topic of immigration:
* Thinks that Fox's making of immigration "accord" one of his key issues was necessary, not just to get the accord but to prevent a "wall" from being built when Fox first started pushing it. He thinks a "wall" would have been built without Fox taking such a pose.
* Thinks Fox was right about going for an all-inclusive approach (what JC called "the whole enchilada" and what "our" politicians call "comprehensive").
* Thinks it's hypocritical for the U.S. to have its only migration treaty (emphasis on the bilateral nature of treaties) with their "top" enemy Cuba, but not to have one with their "best" friend to the south.
* Thinks the Senate massive amnesty scheme is "good".
* Is "relatively confident" that the "wall"/"fence" (he switched back and forth between those terms, as others do) won't be built.
* Thinks 9/11 gave the Bush administration a pretext to pull back from previous joint statements they'd made with Mexico vis-a-vis immigration.
I asked him about this blurb from 2002:
[Mexico's foreign minister Jorge] Castaneda said Mexican officials will begin rallying unions, churches, universities and Mexican communities... "What's important is that American society sees a possible migratory agreement in a positive light," Castaneda said. "We are already giving instructions to our consulates that they begin propagating militant activities -- if you will -- in their communities."
I mentioned that some of the organizers of the recent immigration marches have links to the Mexican government, and specifically refered to a non-organizer, the ACLU, being part of a group with other groups that have such links. (Later, from the floor, I mentioned that one of his former consuls also organized a march.)
AFAIK, the only paper that published the blurb above was the Houston Chronicle, and it was on the same page as two other blurbs. (The page where it was returns a 404, but you can find it by signing in and searching their archives for parts of the text). However, he refered to something appearing in the New York Times and said that Bush and Powell had been upset about what he said, and Powell had spoken to him about it. Since this was four years ago, he may have been confused over which quote this was.
In any case, he went on to defend the quote, saying that he doesn't think there's a Fifth Column in the U.S. and that he's not aware of any links between the Mexican government and the immigration march organizers. (I made it clear later from the floor that I wasn't saying those organizers were directed by Mexico, only that there were links). He supported Mexico's right to defend their people. He also supports the country of Mexico working with groups in the U.S., and he said that when Powell complained about his statement he told him that "I'm working for you on this matter": by getting such groups involved he could help acheive the "accord" that both Mexico and the U.S. government (just not most of the governed) want.
He thinks attempts to look for a Fifth Column are "barking up the wrong tree". He thinks it's OK for Mexico to be involved with U.S. groups provided it's done in an aboveboard, open, legal fashion. (The only problem is that, because of the corrupt press, such links aren't being publicized.)
Then, he engaged in a tu quoque argument, refering to U.S. meddling in Latin America.
In retrospect, there wasn't really much use in asking this question, aside from the fact that it probably made Andres Martinez a little uncomfortable to have someone mention facts that his newspaper, given its druthers, would rather not mention. As foreign minister, Castaneda was just doing his job. The question above, and many others, need to be asked of our elected officials and find out why they aren't doing their jobs.