Labor leaders to Bush: Stop bullying Mexico

Leaders of the nation’s main farm labor organizations sent a letter on March 10 to President George Bush expressing their “outrage over the heavy-handed tactics” employed by his administration against the government of Mexico.

Dolores Huerta, co-founder – along with Cesar Chavez – of the United Farm Workers of America; Arturo Rodriguez, president of the UFW; and Baldemar Velasquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, wrote, “As Latino leaders of farm labor organizations representing immigrant workers from Mexico, their families and retirees, we write to say that we are outraged by the heavy-handed tactics that your administration is employing against the government of Mexico in an attempt to secure its agreement with your plan for waging war on Iraq.”

Mexico and four other countries in the UN Security Council have not expressed any indication as to how they will vote. In recent weeks, President Fox of Mexico has stated his government’s strong opposition to any resolution that would legitimize a U.S.-led war on Iraq. But Mexico is under intense pressure from the Bush administration to go along with the U.S.-British-Spanish resolution – pressure that includes bullying tactics and threats towards Mexican immigrants in the U.S. Popular sentiment across Mexico is strongly opposed to war on Iraq, with up to 80 percent opposing a U.S.-led military assault.

The farm labor leaders chastise the Bush administration for “acting like a bully against another sovereign nation.” Their letter quotes a high-level Mexican diplomat who told the media, “U.S. State Department officials actually told us that any country that doesn’t go along with the United States ‘will be paying a very heavy price.’”

The labor leaders said, “Our government cannot claim to be fighting for democracy in Iraq while at the same time demanding that the government of Mexico support a war without the consent and against the will of its own citizens.”

Huerta, Velasquez and Rodriguez concluded the letter by stating their opposition to the war. “We oppose this war because you have not made your case to the citizens of the U.S. or of the world that it is necessary. We oppose this war in the name of democracy and we ask you to respect democracy and national sovereignty not only in our country but in all other countries, including Mexico.”