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Give ’em an inch, they’ll take California, Arizona …

15 March 2009

The United States Embassy, at the corner of Reforma and Rio Danubo ALWAYS has a line snaking around the block.  People just wanting to visit the United States and trying to do so legally have to patiently queue up starting at about 4 AM for an “interview”  interrogation and just not being in line could cost them their right to EVER cross the border.  And, there’s no guarantee that going to the interrogation will result in a visa.  So… there’s that long ruly (whatever the opposite is of “unruly”) line that blocks Rio Danubo, but the Embassy more or less controlled the flow, at least putting up traffic barriers along the street.

I never thought a lot about it, not having much reason to go to the Embassy, and not having any business or social events that required being in the area.  There’s a market behind the Embassy, but it’s no different than any other market in the City (except catering to a wealthier clientele, this being a posh neighborhood).  However, after the start of the War Against Iraq, when the 99 percent of Mexicans who opposed that war (the Mexicans feeling some sympathy for the Iraqis, also having  a lot of oil and a crappy army… and recognized they were a lot closer to the United States to begin with), the Embassy started to look like a fortress… the outside lanes of Reforma were blocked off (including the sidewalk) as steel mesh barriers went up to keep Mexicans from tossing rocks at the building … and Embassy guards were posted in the fenced off area.

I’m sure this had the tacit support of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (he probably got tired of getting demands for payment for window replacement), but… there’s a kicker.  The Embassy never sought a permit to block a public street.  And, Mexicans have this thing about gringos taking over their land.

Mexican law… and the Federal District’s charter… grant citizens the right of free access to public property (like sidewalks and city streets). The neighbors, who were already annoyed about not being able to park on Rio Danubo, and one of the minor parties (PANAL) filed a complaint.  Of course, given whose embassy is occupying Mexican territory, you betcha this is being raised in Congress.

Whether or not this is raised when the U.S. Secretary of State arrives in Mexico City later this month, it would pay the Embassy (and the Secretary) to at least learn a little Mexican history and avoid what is going to be a major diplomatic headache.

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