Sep 8, 2015

Mexico's U.S. Ambassador Reflects Nieto's 'Contempt for Diplomacy'

El Universal (Translated by: World Meets): The foreign secretary's recent appointments to our embassy in the United States speak to the contempt of President Peña Nieto's diplomacy. These appointments are being made after six months of vacant representation in Washington. During that time, Barack Obama nominated Roberta Jacobson, who has impeccable diplomatic credentials, as the next ambassador for Mexico. However, Peña Nieto opted for an old family friend from Mexico City to occupy the office, Miguel Basanez, who while is a respectable university professor, has no experience in the Foreign Service.

The already-ratified ambassador just held a disastrous meeting with senators from the National Action Party [PAN – now the main opposition party]. He acknowledged his lack experience but boasted of "citizen diplomacy." He suggested not reacting to the tough language of Donald Trump, "because it would grant him a level of recognition he lacks, since only one in 15 people in the U.S. follow him." He claimed that abuse of our migrants by U.S. authorities is a myth, and downplayed the negative image of Mexico projected by recent corruption scandals because, "the Americans are accustomed to dealing with African countries which are equally or more corrupt than ours."

 And he went further. He said that corruption in Mexico (as revised by recent surveys) focuses on "garbage collectors, so-called franeleros and police cruisers." Basáñez minimized the prolonged vacancy in Washington because, he said, over recent months, no transcendent bilateral issues appeared on the radar, and in addition, our embassy and consulates continue to operate without an ambassador, so it makes no difference. The academic finished by saying that his work should be relatively straightforward since Peña Nieto and Barack Obama maintain "a great personal relationship." The new representative does not have relationships with government officials or legislators on either side of the border.
Posted by Worldmeets.US

His work over recent years has focused on his perch at the Fletcher School and far from the public administration. Nevertheless, to the Mexico Senate, which is jointly responsible for foreign policy, this seemed unimportant and it endorsed the budding diplomat. We'll see him in action -and also we'll see the performance of our new foreign secretary, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, whose experience in the field is near zero.

Her considerable work as head of the Tourism Ministry and her accompaniment of the president on international tours is scarcely sufficient to grasp and undertake her own share in active diplomacy in the context of complex bilateral and multilateral relations. Mexico is wasting splendid career diplomats who transcend administrations, presidents and political parties. Yes, foreign service personnel represent the Mexican government and not just the current executive. In short, with his recent appointment, President Peña Nieto has displayed his contempt for the most important bilateral relationship we have. The chancellery has been put into the hands of improvisers and has dismissed our country's most qualified career diplomats.

*PAN Senator Javier Lozano, a native of Puebla, is former secretary of labor.

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