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The Mexico-bashers.

THE MEXICO-BASHERS For years Mexico was an object of ridicule for Americans who find humor in anything attached to a country they have invaded, annexed, exploited, pillaged and turned into a tourist resort. The more Mexican braceros came to pick California lettuce, the more U.S. banks profited from loans to Mexico, the more U.S. companies unloaded dangerous drugs and toxic pesticides on the Mexican market and, indeed, the more Acapulco Gold and subsequent sinsemillas were imported to satisfy ravenous demand -- the more the source of such bounty was reviled. Familiarity bred contempt, at least on this side of the border. A low point of a sort was reached in 1979, when President Jimmy Carter shocked a Mexican audience with his reference to "Montezuma's revenge." His apology should have signaled a change in U.S. attitudes.

But now along comes a succession of Administration officials, government bureaucrats and Congressional xenophobes to bash Mexico with renewed vigor. Charges of endemic Mexican corruption, drug smuggling and other examples of moral turpitude filled a Senate committee hearing on May 13. Senator Jesse Helms, Under Secretary of State Elliott Abrams and Customs Service chief William von Rabb wielded such a big stick that higher powers -- Secretary of State Shultz and Attorney General Meese -- had to step in to stroke their Mexican counterparts. This time there is a different spin to the contempt. Mexico is more sympathetic to Central American independence movements than to Yankee imperialism, is willing to feed America's drug habit and is mired in debt acquired to survive in the U.S. economic system. It is no longer simply a hapless victim but a perceived threat to U.S. power. Plainly wht the Mexico-bashers fear -- and suspect they deserve -- is a new revenge, which is no laughing matter.

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Publication:The Nation
Article Type:editorial
Date:Jun 7, 1986
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