The Democratic chairmen of a top congressional human rights panel gave stronger support for the Iranian people and tougher criticism of the presidential election than the White House and most European leaders.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the Obama administration continues to “monitor the entire situation closely” in Iran, where hundreds of thousands of angry voters are rioting in the streets of the capital, Tehran. The reaction from British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who said London is “seriously concerned,” was typical of the European response.
At the U.S. Capitol, however, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland and Rep. Alcee L. Hastings of Florida, co-chairmen of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, dismissed diplomatic niceties and denounced Friday’s election as a fraud.
“It is apparent that the deep flaws in this so-called election began well before the Iranian people began voting,” Mr. Cardin said.
He denounced President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as “an unfit leader.”
“Regardless of the limited scope of his duties,” Mr. Cardin added, “Ahmadinejad’s consistent pattern of noxious remarks and his belligerent attitude inject understandable tension around the Middle East and beyond.”
Mr. Hastings noted that the theocracy led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remains the real power in Iran.
“And the cost of keeping this regime in place is seen every day in the lack of freedom and opportunity the Iranian people so desperately deserve,” he said.
Mexico, where the swine flu outbreak began, is beginning to recover from the economic side effects of the virus because of a targeted government stimulus program, according to Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan.
Although the World Health Organization declared swine flu a pandemic Thursday, the governments of Mexico and the United States have lifted emergency precautions imposed when the disease first broke out in a small Mexican town in April, he said in the Mexican Embassy’s latest newsletter.
However, a worldwide panic over the flu, officially called the H1N1 virus, severely affected Mexico’s tourism industry, as foreigners canceled vacation plans.
Mr. Sarukhan said President Felipe Calderon released $1.3 billion in targeted economic stimulus funds to help the tourist industry and small businesses.
“As a result of these measures, and as the U.S. lifted the temporary travel alerts put in place due to the influenza outbreak, the flow of tourists to all major destinations has started to bounce back,” the ambassador said.