- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 26, 2004

Mexicans in America

Mexican Ambassador Carlos de Icaza declared that no Mexican in the United States is a terrorist, as he defended Mexican migration across the border as healthy for the economies of both nations.

“Mexican migrants are not terrorists,” Mr. de Icaza said in San Diego this week.

The ambassador did not distinguish between legal and illegal migration in his address to the Institute of the Americas, run by Jeffrey Davidow, a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico.

An estimated 8 million to 12 million foreigners are in the United States illegally, and 60 to 70 percent of them are Mexican, according to the U.S. government.

Mr. de Icaza said, “Mexican migrants in the United States contribute to both the U.S. and Mexican economies.”

Millions of legal and illegal Mexicans here send some portion of their salaries to relatives in Mexico.

The ambassador called on the United States to adopt “immigration reforms that allow us to have order, security and human dignity.”

He noted the increasing political clout of Mexicans and other Hispanic immigrants, who now constitute the largest ethnic minority in the United States.

“One of the most important developments … is the increasing influence of Mexican communities in the United States,” he said.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 24 million American citizens have Mexican heritage and that nearly 10 million Mexican nationals live legally in the United States.

Mr. de Icaza, who became ambassador in Washington in March, said the relationship between Mexico and the United States “has no parallel.”

“Our cooperation on border security is good, which also allows us to fight against organized crime,” he said.

Before his latest assignment, Mr. de Icaza, 56, served as Mexico’s ambassador to Japan, Belgium, Argentina and Ecuador in a foreign service career that began in 1970.

Venezuela questions

The U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States is skeptical of the fairness of the recall election in Venezuela, even though the OAS certified the Aug. 15 results.

“The referendum contrasted a Venezuelan people intent on voting with an electoral process plagued by organizational and technical problems that prolonged and complicated the vote,” Ambassador John F. Maisto said this week.

He cited a “climate of fear and intimidation” by the government of President Hugo Chavez against political opponents who forced him into the recall referendum.

Mr. Chavez won 58 percent of the vote compared with 42 percent for those seeking his ouster, although exit polls by the respected New York firm of Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates Inc. showed the opposite results. Opposition leaders, who accuse Mr. Chavez of running an authoritarian government with close ties to Cuban leader Fidel Castro, also complained that hundreds of voting stations recorded the same number of votes in favor of keeping Mr. Chavez in office.

“The preliminary results of the referendum were disputed by the opposition, and the dispute continues today — underscoring the divisiveness of Venezuela’s political crisis and the profound mistrust that continues to define that crisis,” Mr. Maisto said.

He urged his colleagues to “recognize the fact that this process has been fraught with many problems,” and he commended OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria for offering to review any “credible evidence” of election fraud.

Mr. Maisto complained about the “unrestricted use of state resources aimed” at defeating the referendum and restrictions on international observers that prevented “free and unfettered access” to voting stations.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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