The Miami Herald
Posted on Fri, Feb. 10, 2006
OUR OPINION: MEXICO INCIDENT RAISES SPECTER OF COLOSSUS OF THE NORTH
The expulsion of Cuban officials from a U.S.-owned hotel in Mexico City at the behest of the U.S. Treasury Department is an incident straight out of the Three Stooges school of diplomacy. A friendly nation has been insulted, U.S. businesses in Mexico are alarmed, and Cuba can once again paint itself as the aggrieved party in its dispute with the United States.
With an arrogance that undoubtedly surprises no one in Mexico, U.S. Treasury officials demanded that managers of the María Isabel Sheraton expel a delegation of Cubans who were there to discuss oil drilling in Cuban waters with U.S. oilmen. The hotel acquiesced, fearing punishment under laws related to the U.S. embargo against Cuba.
The ensuing controversy was altogether predictable. The only thing that's not clear is what U.S. officials thought they had to gain by acting in such an overbearing and imperial manner.
Clearly, they did not like the fact of the meeting itself, but the threat against the hotel resulted only in the minor inconvenience of having to move the conference elsewhere. In Mexico, where this is seen as an infringement of national sovereignty, there are laws against this sort of discrimination, as well as a law neutralizing the foreign reach of the U.S. embargo.
U.S. diplomatic statements on Latin America consistently use words such as ''partnership,'' ''mutual respect'' and ''non-intervention.'' Such precepts are the foundations of our hemispheric policy, but try telling that to anyone in Mexico or any other country in the region familiar with the María Isabel incident.
If U.S. officials cannot bring themselves to apologize for this blunder, the least they can do is reassure U.S. companies and regional governments that there will not be a repetition of this grievous mistake.