Mexican president insults U.S., Congress cheers

When Winston Churchill, then Prime Minister of Great Britain, addressed a joint gathering of the United States Senate and House of Representatives less than three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, it was a speech delivered at the right time, in the right place, to the right people.  It helped strengthen and define Allied resolve for the looming battles against Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire. 

Yet, among the many speeches delivered over the decades by foreign heads of state to the Congress of the United States, Churchill’s December 26, 1941 address was the exception to the rule.  Most foreign leaders who are afforded this honor deliver largely forgettable lectures about how wonderful are the ties between their nations and ours; and often in support of receiving financial or military support from Washington.

Few foreign leaders, however, possess the audacity exhibited earlier this month by Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon when he spoke to the House and Senate in joint session.  In his speech, Calderon as much as blamed the tide of extreme violence sweeping Mexico in recent months on the United States.  Calderon specifically singled out our government’s failure to reinstate the Clinton-era gun ban, which expired in 2004, as a major reason why some 23,000 citizens of his country have died as a result of drug-fueled violence since he became president in 2006.

In criticizing what he clearly viewed as a legislative “failing” of the Congress to pass gun-control legislation, Calderon crossed a line normally not breached by visiting heads of state – at least publicly.  Foreign leaders generally are more sensitive to the protocol that you don’t openly meddle in another nation’s domestic political agenda. 

The administration of President Obama may have urged Calderon to step into this fray as its surrogate; having correctly concluded that openly pushing the gun-control agenda this cycle would likely hurt not help Democratic candidates for Congress. 

Calderon added insult to injury, when he offered as evidence of America’s complicity in Mexico’s rampant drug-cartel fueled violence, the fact that “more than 80 percent of [guns and assault weapons seized in Mexico] came from the United States.”  In reality, this “fact” is not a fact at all, but rather a figure demonstrably proved to be false.  The “80%” figure (often boosted to as much as 90%) surfaced early in 2009, and was initially cited without challenge by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), officials at ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), and media personalities.

These bloated figures — offered as “proof” that lack of sufficient gun control in the US was fueling drug-cartel violence in Mexico – subsequently were shown to be completely false.  The vast majority of  firearms fueling Mexico’s violence were never able to be “traced” in the first place; and of those that were, they were shown largely to have entered Mexico’s burgeoning black market not from the US but from China, Russian organized crime groups, Spain, Israel, guerrilla groups in Colombia, and elsewhere.  The Mexican military, itself rife with corruption, is another source of purloined armaments for the drug cartel; though, of course, Calderon failed to mention this.

Thus, we witnessed a foreign leader accept an invitation to address a joint meeting of the United States Congress, and then criticize that body for not passing particular domestic legislation based on false and discredited data.  One might have hoped that such audacity would have elicited if not a “boo,” at least a raised eyebrow from the congressional audience.  National pride might have drawn at least stony silence.  Instead, the Democratic majority – or at least most of them – actually stood and applauded the insults delivered by Calderon.  They might as well have stood and said, “thank you, Señor; may we have another, Señor.”  How do you say “spineless” in Spanish?

155 comments Add your comment

lj

June 2nd, 2010
11:47 am

Its an odd conclusion that OUR freedoms are causing violence in Mexico.

Especially odd is the fact that our crime(and yes, that includes firearm-related crimes) has steadily DECLINED since the sunset of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004.

So why are we enjoying a dwindling violent crime rate while Mexico is seeing a surge in violence? Surely it has nothing to do with an inept government rife with corruption.

Leo

June 3rd, 2010
6:58 pm

As usual Bob Barr flys off the handle with his facts to make a political point. Shoot ( no pun intended), and I will be happy when AJC gets its own St. Petersburg Times politifact-type investigative journalists working to give us facts. I could care less about opinions.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2009/apr/16/barack-obama/Obama-claims-90-percent-guns-used-Mexico/

j0hn

June 4th, 2010
11:23 am

“Invertebrado” is the literal translation of “spineless.” But I am not sure that “spineless” is the correct word to use here, as it generally means “lacking backbone” or “lacking strength/character.” While it is strange that Calderon is trying to blame the entirety of Mexico’s gang violence problems on slack U.S. weapons regulations, and it is understandable that some may take objection to his claims, Calderon certainly isn’t lacking spine or strength/character; It probably took a lot of balls to stand up in front of the U.S. Congress and bitch about this. Rather than lacking spine or strength/character, Calderon is lacking a scientific worldview, making unproven claims, attempting to support such with random figures like “80%,” and failing to cite a [legit] source. As with the vast majority of our problems, both domestic and foreign, we are always lacking data and reliable controlled studies. Rather than using science/logic/rationality/empiricism, most of our political decisions (from individuals voting to presidents signing legislation) are based on emotional appeal. I would like to see more politicians with a scientific worldview. I would also like to see some controlled studies on gun regulations and gun violence… If anyone knows of any peer-reviewed journal articles on the subject, please post a link!

the truth

June 6th, 2010
9:34 am

Lets face it,obama is right when he admits “HUGE MISTAKES” that you nationalists insists that our country,”THE USA” didn’t make..
We have killed,tortured and who knows what?
But,as the president has said on numerous times we are,”A NATION OF LAWS”..
Those who are here illegally from mexico do not want to go back there.Period!!

I agree,they should be deported,but when u start to stopping cars because someone looks hispanic(like they did last wed.night after 9pm,on peachtree industrial),and then expect them ,millions of them who were 1st allowed to come thru under president reagon,then with clinton,and also 12 years of the bush regime,and you expect to put the blame on obama and act like 12 or more million illegals came under his watch,THEN U ARE WRONG..

Call this great president what you want,but he will never tear down,the true meaning of world leader like the man we had in office from jan.20,2001 to jan.20.2009..What a disgrace he was..

the truth

June 6th, 2010
9:43 am

7. Make people on welfare take drug tests. (no pass, no check)
8. Make people on welfare do some kind of work. (pick up trash, etc…
———————————————————————————————
wow,i agree to the fullest,and im a die hard progressive!!
lets add one more thing in there..lets say that the lighter your skin is does not mean that you can go straight into section 8 homes,and skip da ghetto..

there are more whites on welfare in this country than blacks..my wife works for the HEW,and has told me this for years and she for the love of god can’t figure out why the only homes blacks and latino’s get are the housing projects and rarely,rarely get section 8 homes in beautiful neighborhoods,like the lighter people..

And,its not because they will tear down the home like they do in the ghetto because there are plenty of trailor parkers who tear down those same nice homes monthly..

Lets make sure that meth,cocaine,and the people who make these drugs do more time than the ones who push it on the streets..