NEW YORK (Jul. 19)
Dr. Laurence R. Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, believes that the “silencing” of Mexico’s liberal newspaper, Excelsior, two weeks ago may have been linked to its past criticism of Mexico’s anti-Zionist stand in the United Nations General Assembly and the anticipation of renewed criticism over Mexico’s letter to the Security Council implicitly condemning Israel’s July 3 rescue operation at Entebbe Airport in Uganda.
“We regrettably must come to the conclusion that President (Luis) Echeverria (of Mexico) either directly instigated the ousting of Excelsior’s editor, or fully supported the action by helping to arrange for it to take place,” Birns said.
“Even if one leaves aside the accusations that President Echeverria stood to financially gain from the change-over of the administration of Excelsior, we now have to take serious the allegations which have been made that what put the Mexican President on a collision course with the Mexico City newspaper was its vocal opposition to his policy of supporting the anti-Zionist vote which was favorably acted upon by the UN a number of months ago,” Birns stated.
He added that the “silencing of Excelsior and the conversion of it to being little more than a house-organ for the Echeverria government took place only days before Mexico had submitted an unsolicited letter with the UN Security Council which accused Israel of having violated Uganda’s sovereignty by means of its raid on the Entebbe Airport to free Israeli hostages being held by Palestinian hijackers. We have to conclude that President Echeverria had anticipated that Excelsior might have again opposed the Echeverria policy,” Birns said.
A SIGNIFICANT SET-BACK
He called the take-over of the paper “among the most significant set-backs to the orderly development of Latin American institutions which have occurred since the military overthrow of the constitutionally-elected government of Chile in 1973.” Birns said a complete file on the Excelsior take-over was being forwarded by the Council to the leadership of the Norwegian parliament because Echeverria “is being touted to receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.” Under the will of Alfred Nobel, the Norwegian parliament has the responsibility to select the annual recipient of the Peace Prize.
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs is a newly formed organization concerned with increasing attention to U.S.-Latin American relations and widening the understanding of the region’s problems. Its board members include Sen. James Abourezk (D.SD), Rep. Donald Fraser (D.Minn.), Leonard Woodcock, United Automobile Workers president, Patrick E. German, Amalgamated Butchers and Meat Cutters sec- retary-treasurer, and Rabbi Morton Rosenthal of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.