Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Today's Mexico City Headlines: Be careful what you ask for

All the dailies save Reforma front Obama’s decision to de-blacklist Cuba. Only La Jornada gives it prominent space, leading with the headline “Cuba will come off the list of terrorism sponsors: Obama.”
    Jornada plays it straight with the main news story, but uses an editorial to spin the move as negatively as possible. “The Hawaiian politician,” we're told, is acting to create a legacy for his administration. Also, there’s no guarantee that Congress will vote to lift the embargo, given election-year pressures. And at any rate, it’s the United States that should be classified as a terrorism promoter, given its history.
    It’s an approach we’ve seen a lot here in the last few months — concede that Obama’s moves have been good ones, but  don’t let up on the bashing. That combination requires tying Obama to a legion of past American sins he had nothing to do with.
    Reagan supported Central American death squads. Reagan was a U.S. president. Obama is a U.S. president. Ergo, Obama is as guilty as Reagan.
    Significantly, Raul Castro has been the most prominent voice to recognize that presidents are individuals, even the ones in the United States. Obama, he said, inherited the U.S.-Cuba policy. And Obama ended it.
    Raul also knows from his brother Fidel’s experience with other nations how an individual president can change bilateral relations. As an example, let's pick, say, Mexico.
    Mexico under PRI presidents was a strong supporter of Cuba from 1959 until the day Vicente Fox took office as the first PAN president in 2000. Relations quickly got ugly. So ugly, in fact, that Fox tossed Castro out of an international  conference Mexico was hosting, even giving him exit  instructions: “You finish eating and you leave.”
    Solutions aren't always appreciated by those who have a vested interest in the problem. Obama's seeing that at home on the Iran negotiations, and in some corners of Mexico and the rest of Latin America on the Cuba policy reversal. The former is expressed by overt opposition, the latter by changing the subject.
    Some of the reactions to the Cuba-U.S. rapprochement remind me of a political cartoon that ran in, I think, the Los Angeles Times in early April of 1968, just after Lyndon Johnson stunned the world by announcing on American television: "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president."
    The cartoon shows an exhausted sign painter working on a protest sign, surrounded by maybe thousands of other such signs he's already finished. They all say, "Johnson Must Go!" Just then he's being shown the morning paper, with its huge headline "Johnson to Go." "Damn!" he moans, devastated.
    How much ink and breath has been spent in Mexico demanding an end to the U.S. Cuban policy? Obama's ending that policy. Damn!

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