MEXICO CITY (Dec. 30)
The unexpected resignation of Foreign Minister Emilio O. Rabasa may have been triggered by the storm of criticism in the Mexican press that he went too far in trying to mollify Israel for Mexico’s vote in favor of the General Assembly’s anti-Zionist resolution adopted Nov. 10.
But some observers here attribute his sudden departure to a basic trend in Mexico’s foreign policy toward the Third World and away from the United States which, sources say, was responsible in the first place for Mexico lining up with the Arab-Communist-Third World bloc to identify Zionism as a form of racism.
Rabasa, a close friend of U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, announced his resignation last night without giving a reason but said his decision was “irrevocable.” Government sources said he had not been dismissed. His successor, appointed immediately after Rabasa’s announcement, is Ambassador Alfonso Garoin Robles, until yesterday, Mexico’s Permanent Representative to the UN and the diplomat who cast Mexico’s controversial vote in the General Assembly.
EFFECT ON TOURISM
That vote sparked a general boycott of Mexico by thousands of American Jews and Jewish organizations who usually take winter vacations in Mexico or hold conventions there. The boycott has taken a heavy toll of Mexico’s all important tourist industry with severe repercussions on this country’s economy.
Tourism officials here report that tourism. Mexico’s second largest foreign currency earner, is off 25 percent this holiday season, largely as a result of the American Jewish boycott. More than 120,000 cancellations were received for the Christmas week in Mexico City and Acapulco. The lose of Jewish convention business alone is estimated at $750,000. In addition non-Jewish groups have canceled conventions here in deference to the sensibilities of Jewish participants.
It was at least partially to save the tourist trade that President Luis Echeverria dispatched Rabasa to Jerusalem earlier this month to “clear up certain misunderstandings” with the Israeli government. Echeverria subsequently met in Mexico City with 15 Jewish leaders from the U.S. and Canada to whom he reportedly pledged that Mexico would no longer support anti-Zionist measures at the UN.
But several days later. Mexico voted in favor of a declaration by the International Women’s Year Convention held in Mexico City last summer which equated Zionism with colonialism and apartheid as movements that should be eliminated. The boycott was continued. Rabasa, meanwhile, was attacked in the Mexican press for compromising the nation’s honor by apologizing in Jerusalem for acts of his government. Newspapers here denounced his remarks to reporters in the Israeli capital that the misunderstandings had been “forgotten, pardoned and buried.” He was taken to task especially for his use of the word “pardoned.”
HITTING BACK AT THE U.S.
Observers here say the entire affair must be viewed in the perspective of Mexico’s desire to become the leader of Third World forces in Latin America and Echoverria’s personal ambition to succeed in the presidency of the General Assembly at its 31st session next year.
Mexico, along with many Third World countries, is not considered to be basically anti-Israel or anti-Zionist but increasingly anti-American. By supporting the Arabs in their drive to isolate Israel diplomatically, these countries are striking at the United States without running the risk of a direct affront to the U.S. whose economic assistance they sorely need.