Un Secretary General Gets Mostly Negative Response to Request That Mexico Contribute Troops to Peacekeeping Forces
In a request that created strong controversy in Mexico, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked the Mexican Senate and President Vicente Fox's administration to consider contributing peacekeeping troops to international missions. Annan made the request during a visit to Mexico City in early September to meet with Mexican government officials and intellectuals and to take part in a seminar on democracy in Latin America.
Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez set off a similar debate in May of this year when he brought up the same issue (see SourceMex, 2004-05-19).
Mexico willing to contribute noncombat personnel
Derbez has since ruled out the involvement of Mexican military personnel in peacekeeping forces but said he would support the use of Mexican medical personnel, observers, and police officers in other peacekeeping operations. He said the Fox administration has conveyed this possibility to Annan.
"[President Fox] has clearly stated that we would like to participate in humanitarian efforts," Derbez said during a radio interview. "Our conversations with the secretary-general are related to how we can provide support services."
The foreign relations secretary said a police deployment is not the equivalent of sending troops. "Our country would be providing security, not participating in combat," said Derbez.
Derbez said, for example, that the Fox government would be willing to send police to train law officers in Haiti if the Haitian government presented such a request. Derbez' statements did not lay to rest the controversy regarding possible participation by the Mexican military in international peacekeeping operations.
During a brief statement to the Senate, Annan noted that several countries in Central and South America have allocated troops to international peacekeeping operations.
The UN has deployed 50,000 troops for 17 peacekeeping operations worldwide. Annan told Mexican senators and the Fox administration that 30,000 more soldiers would be needed for peacekeeping missions in other areas.
Sen. Dulce Maria Sauri Riancho said Annan's address to the upper house was short and did not leave room for dialogue between legislators and the secretary-general. "We were not able to communicate to him that we have actually discussed this issue in the Senate and that there are diverging positions among the various parties," said Sauri, a member of the former governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). …