- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 7, 2005

Reopening in Mexico

The U.S. Consulate in the lawless border town of Nuevo Laredo will reopen today, after being closed last week because of the continuing battle among drug gangs for control of lucrative smuggling routes.

The latest victims, a city councilman and a police commander, died in a burst of fire from gunmen with military assault weapons Friday morning, the same day U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza announced the reopening of the consulate.

He condemned the assassinations of Councilman Leopoldo Ramos Trevino and police commander Federico Ocampo and called on the Mexican government to deal decisively with the violence, which has claimed 109 lives so far this year in the city of 300,000 just south of Laredo, Texas.

“This morning’s tragic events once again highlight the need for Mexico to stand resolute in its efforts to rescue Nuevo Laredo from the hands of kingpins and capos that are actively undermining the fabric of life in both our countries,” Mr. Garza told reporters Friday.

He said he decided to reopen the consulate last week after Mexican authorities promised a crackdown on the drug gangs.

“One week ago, I asked the government of Mexico to take swift and what I then called decisive action and, in my view, they have done so,” Mr. Garza said.

“In the past few days, I have worked with my Mexican government counterparts to gauge the state of criminal activity along our border and obtain security assurances and an agreement on what needs to be done.”

Mexican President Vicente Fox held a Cabinet meeting a week ago in response to the closing of the consulate and ordered tougher measures to combat the drug gangs.

“The president gave instructions to radicalize the operation and raise its efficiency,” presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar told reporters in Mexico City. He did not give details of the new measures.

Eye to eye

One of America’s oldest Jewish organizations condemned the killings of four Israeli Arabs by an Israeli army deserter last week, just as one of America’s newest Muslim groups called on Jews to recognize the attack as an act of terrorism.

Morton A. Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, agreed with Kamal Nawash, president of the Free Muslims Coalition.

“The murder of four Israeli Arabs and the wounding of 12 more is a terrorist act which we condemn unreservedly,” Mr. Klein said.

Mr. Nawash’s organization frequently denounces terrorist acts and criticizes other Muslim groups for too timid a response.

“The reason the Free Muslims Coalition constantly demands that Muslim leaders do more to fight Islamic terrorism is because Muslims are in the best position to stop it,” Mr. Nawash said. “Similarly, we believe that Jewish leaders are in the best position to stop Jewish terrorism.”

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:


• Retired Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu of the East African Legislative Assembly and Proscovia Salaamu Musumba, a member of the Ugandan parliament. They discuss the political situation in Uganda at 1 p.m. at the National Press Club.

• Ali Salhi, chairman of the Free Officers’ Movement of Kirkuk, Iraq, and chairman of Kirkuk’s Economic Development. He joins a panel discussion at the U.S. Institute of Peace.


• Karsten D. Voigt, coordinator of German-North American Cooperation in the German Foreign Office. He discusses the Sept. 18 German parliamentary elections at 3 p.m. at the National Press Club.

• Former Judge Phillip Banks, a member of the Interstate Council of Liberia, who discusses Liberia’s struggle for democracy at 2 p.m. at the National Press Club.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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