Thursday, August 18, 2005

Undiplomatic Diplomats

The Houston Chronicle reports today that the Mexican Foreign Ministry called in the US Ambassador to Mexico, Hon. Antonio Garza, to rebuke him for a speech the Ambassador made on Tuesday, in Denver, stating, inter alia, that he closed the US Consulate in Nuevo Laredo to “punish” the Mexican government for its “…failure to control violence in the region.”

As is well-known, Nuevo Laredo has been convulsed by violence caused by feuding among the various drug cartels, and the Mexican government’s sporadic efforts to crack down on them. Ambassador Garza stated that he has “been clear” that his “…primary responsibility as ambassador is the safety of United States citizens.” Earlier this year, the Chronicle tells us, Ambassador Garza, evidently publicly, requested the State Department to issue travel advisories alerting Americans to the border violence.

As soon as is possible, Ambassador Garza should be quietly recalled, and replaced by somebody ready to play in the major leagues. Ambassador Garza is indeed supposed to look to the safety of American citizens, but his primary, overarching responsibility, is the advancement and protection of the state interests of the United States. This is not accomplished by open and public insults by the US Ambassador to the host government.

Certainly, Ambassador Garza might find it necessary to complain to the Mexican government about the problems in Nuevo Laredo, perhaps even close the consulate. The Mexican authorities are certainly aware of the US government’s view of problems in Nuevo Laredo, but what purpose is served by airing of a friendly government’s dirty laundry in the papers ?

The current Mexican administration is as friendly a neighbor as we are ever likely to have in that quarter. A publicly understanding, diplomatic, tone by our chief diplomat in the area is more likely to be helpful than public hectoring. The US has plenty of trouble coming down the pike in Latin America (Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba). There is no sense in buying more.

No comments: