The insidious duplicity of Latrine America’s leaders.
Mexico’s Pena Nieto Is for Reform, Just Not in Cuba
Last February, Mexico’s former president, Felipe Calderon, posted 22 tweets about Yoani Sanchez, the Cuban dissident blogger. Each tweet was more enthusiastic than the last. “Brave activist for freedom,” Calderon called her.
Ten months earlier, Calderon had been in Havana, on an official trip, dining and smiling with Raul Castro. There was no mention of Yoani or any dissidents and, of course, no visit with them. On the recommendation of the Cuban government, the “activist for freedom” was ignored.
Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico’s current president, should have set a different example during his recent official visit to Havana. He has, after all, styled himself as a bold reformer, as he boasted last week in Davos, showing off a plan that would allow private investment in Mexico’s energy sector for the first time in half a century.
Yet Pena Nieto had little to say about Yoani, or Guillermo Farinas, or “Las Damas de Blanco” (the Ladies in White), all dissidents persecuted by the Castro regime. That would have been incompatible with one of the main objectives of Pena Nieto’s visit: to have an encounter with Fidel Castro. In what has become a tradition for Latin American and Asian leaders, they go to Havana, wait for a couple of days and suddenly are spirited to some undisclosed location for a moment with the semi-retired old dictator who has mostly given up his green fatigues for Adidas sport suits. On Wednesday afternoon, Pena Nieto pointedly told the news media that he would meet that night with Fidel. “The moral and political leader of Cuba,” he called him — whatever that means. After that, he would see Raul.
The picture released afterward by the Cuban government — Pena Nieto talking, Fidel listening — didn’t come cheap. Last year, Pena Nieto’s administration erased $340 million of Cuba’s debt to Mexico, or about 70 percent of the total amount. That’s more than the value of trade between the two countries, which reached $297 million over the first nine months of last year; $274 million of that represented Mexico’s surplus. The bilateral relationship is otherwise limited. From the Mexican side, at least, the main issue may be the influx of Cubans who use Mexico as a way station to the U.S.
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