Andres Oppenheimer

Mexico wants to confront anti-Hispanic hate in the U.S. Fine. But it needs to confront its own problems | Opinion

Forensic experts in Mexico work on the recovery of at least 10 bodies wrapped in bags found in a river channel.
Forensic experts in Mexico work on the recovery of at least 10 bodies wrapped in bags found in a river channel. Getty Images

Mexico deserves credit for calling an Aug. 28 summit of Latin American and Caribbean countries to devise a “joint strategy” to fight anti-Hispanic xenophobia in the United States. I’s a good idea, but it would be much more convincing if Mexico showed equal concern for other human-rights atrocities at home and abroad.

President Andres Manuel López Obrador called the exploratory meeting of foreign ambassadors in Mexico in the aftermath of the recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people — including eight Mexican citizens and several U.S. citizens of Mexican descent — were killed by a lone gunman.

The El Paso shooter had written a manifesto about an alleged “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” echoing President Trump’s rhetoric of an “invasion” of undocumented immigrants from Latin America.

Days after the Aug. 3 shooting, Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard called the El Paso shootings an “inflection point” in Latin America’s struggle for the protection of Hispanic communities in the United States, “because it was a domestic terrorist attack, based on a xenophobic rhetoric against our peoples.”

There is little question that the El Paso shooter singled out Hispanics for his mass killings. He traveled to the border city of El Paso and picked a Walmart mall known to be mostly visited by Latino shoppers and Mexican tourists.

And there is little question that Mexico has a right to be concerned about the escalation of hate crimes against Hispanics in the United States and to raise its voice against them. Neither Ebrard nor other Mexican officials have mentioned Trump’s name in connection with the rise in hate crimes against Latinos, but the El Paso shooter’s manifesto and polls among Hispanics speak for themselves.

A 2018 Pew Research Center poll said nearly half of U.S. Hispanics said their situation had worsened in the previous year, up from 32 percent when Trump was elected in 2016.

In light of all of this, an international meeting to raise public attention about hate-motivated crimes like the El Paso shooting should be welcome. While it probably won’t sway Trump into abandoning his anti-immigrant rhetoric, it could help keep the issue on the front pages and put pressure on U.S. legislators to pass gun-safety measures, among other steps, to stop this craziness.

But for Mexico’s proposed Ibero-American summit against racism and xenophobia to be effective, Mexico needs to clean up its own act.

Mexico not only is failing to prevent, and downplaying, a record number of killings at home — 17,608 people have been murdered in Mexico during the first six months of this year, according to official figures cited by the Animal Politico website — but is not doing enough to protect Central American migrants in their home countries and in its own territory.

In addition, Mexico has incredibly declared itself “neutral” on Venezuela, the biggest human-rights tragedy in Latin America’s recent history.

López Obrador’s leftist government has effectively recognized Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, who had been declared an illegitimate ruler by Mexico’s previous government, the United States and more than 50 other Western democracies. In a major break with the international effort to isolate Maduro, López Obrador invited the Venezuelan dictator to his inauguration ceremony last December.

López Obrador has also been notably shy about criticizing Venezuela’s government-sponsored mass murders of peaceful opposition activists.

According to a recent report by Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Maduro regime is responsible for more than 6,800 extrajudicial killings of pro-democracy protesters just between January 2018 and May 2019. That’s more than the number of killings by Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s regime during his 17 years in power.

I welcome Mexico’s initiative to convene a meeting to denounce racism and xenophobia in Trump’s America. I hope it goes forward. But the Mexican government should urgently raise its voice about the human-rights atrocities at home, in Central America and in Venezuela. Otherwise, it looks like a hypocrite.

Don’t miss the “Oppenheimer Presenta” TV show at 8 p.m. E.T. Sunday on CNN en Español. Twitter: @oppenheimera

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