The rise of Buchanan worries Mexican officials

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Pat Buchanan’s victory in the New Hampshire primaries has echoed ominously for many here, who find racism and hostility in the words of the man who wants to govern their powerful northern neighbor.
“I think his attitude should worry every person who has analyzed his actions and statements,” said Mexican Congressman Carlos Reta Martinez, secretary of the Congress’ foreign relations committee. “These have been characterized by a meaning that is anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant.”
Mexico has been a favorite target of Buchanan’s speeches.
He calls aid to Mexico “a backdoor raid on American taxpayers,” says free trade with Mexico is “a sellout of American workers,” wants to reduce the number of Mexicans coming legally to the United States and says he would build walls along the border to “stop illegal immigration cold.”
He has repeatedly called illegal immigration “an invasion of the country” that should be halted with troops if need be.
Buchanan insists it’s not racism.
“You know, the Mexican people are hard-working people; they’re good people,” Buchanan said in speeches last month. “They’ve got a lousy government that’s robbed them again and again.
“But America cannot continue to accept 1 million, 2 million, 3 million illegal immigrants into this country every single year.”
His call for a less-intrusive U.S. foreign policy and attacks on the North American Free Trade Agreement are in step with what Mexican leftists have demanded for years.
But the tone, the talk of troops and Buchanan’s relentless focus on Mexico, leaves many here convinced Buchanan is playing to racial hostility between Americans and Mexicans and perhaps even feeding it.
Buchanan’s words are “most xenophobic, most isolationist, with tints of racism,” said Jorge Bustamante, an expert on U.S.-Mexico relations who heads the College of the Northern Border, a think tank in Tijuana.
Bustamante, a political scientist with a doctorate from Notre Dame University, said many Americans feel “that we Mexicans are responsible for all sorts of evils…. (Buchanan) is taking advantage of the same sentiment.”
Both Bustamante and Reta see Buchanan as carrying to a national level the anti-immigrant sentiment that washed over California during the 1994 campaign for Proposition 187.
Reta said many Americans “want to find guilt abroad for all their domestic problems.”
Writing in the daily La Jornada on Wednesday, columnist Jorge Montano said Mexicans “can only observe with dismay” the course of political debate in the United States.
“The unjust weight of confused rhetoric will continue to fall on Mexico,” he wrote in a front-page column. “Sadly, it can take form in decisions by the administration to tackle the phantoms raised by Buchanan.”