The U.S. ambassador in Mexico warned about the dangers of modern slavery in a recent newspaper article but declined to mention Mexico's failure to stop what he called "this horrible exploitation."
"Human trafficking is a severe violation of human rights, and governments are responsible for fighting it in a way that empowers victims and deters those who would steal another's freedom," Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne wrote in Mexico's La Jordana.
He noted that the State Department's 2013 report on human trafficking stresses the importance of identifying victims of the sex trade and labor abuse. The report focuses on "those approaches and policies that have succeeded in bringing victims out of the darkness of exploitation," he said.
However, Mr. Wayne declined to mention that the report ranks Mexico among the countries failing to meet "minimum standards" established in a U.N. treaty against human trafficking. Mexico is one of 150 countries that have signed the pact.
The Trafficking in Persons Report calls Mexico a "large source, transit and destination country," meaning smugglers find victims in the country, move their human cargo through it and supply sex slaves to clients in Mexico.
"Mexican women and children are exploited in sex trafficking within Mexico and the United States, lured by fraudulent employment opportunities, deceptive offers of romantic relationships, or extortion, including through the retention of identification documents or threats to notify immigration officials," the report says. "Mexican men, women and children also are exploited in forced labor in agriculture, domestic service, manufacturing, construction, in the informal economy, and in forced street begging in both the United States and Mexico."
In his article, Mr. Wayne notes that several governments last year identified only 40,000 victims of human trafficking but sociologists estimate the real number may be 27 million.
Because so few victims are identified, the traffickers are "operating with impunity, beyond the reach of the law," the ambassador writes. "It means that modern anti-trafficking laws are not being fully employed and that the heinous networks are too often operating out of the scrutiny of police, prosecutors and caring citizens."
He notes that the U.S. and Mexico have joined with civil rights groups and government officials to work on efforts to identify slave trade victims.
HE DID NOT EAT THE HAM
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, quoted Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" during his filibuster against Obamacare last week, but a more serious issue regarding pork also emerged.
The New York-based Jewish Daily Forward newspaper ran a correction that must have embarrassed its editors: Israeli Ambassador Michael B. Oren did not eat the ham.
The confusion began in August, when the Forward published an article on Washington journalist Mark Leibovich and his new book, "This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — Plus Plenty of Valet Parking — in America's Gilded Capital."
The Forward noted a passage in Mr. Leibovich's book about Mr. Oren at a Washington reception where the ambassador "hovered dangerously over the buffet table, eyeing a massive Christmas ham."
The Israeli Embassy thought the Forward implied that Mr. Oren ate some of the ham, a meat prohibited under kosher dietary laws. Mr. Oren did not. He keeps kosher, an embassy spokesman told the newspaper.
The sheepish correction — lamb is kosher — read: "The Forward previously reported that [Mr.] Oren reached for the ham, which misrepresented what [Mr.] Leibovich wrote in his book. [Mr.] Leibovich's account never insinuated that [Mr.] Oren ate the ham. The Forward regrets the error."
• Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at email@example.com or @EmbassyRow.
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