03/21/11 – U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, officially resigned from his post this past Saturday March 19 due to controversial WikiLeaks documents that have caused ongoing friction between the two governments. Pascual, who has been ambassador to Mexico for a year and a half, greatly angered President Calderón after a cable that was discovered last fall revealed his doubts and criticisms of Mexican anti-drug efforts and feelings of inefficiency among Mexican security forces in the campaign against drug cartels. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that Pascual’s decision to return to Washington is based upon his “personal desire to ensure the strong relationship between the two countries and to avert issues raised by President Calderón that could distract from the important business of advancing our bilateral interests.”
President Calderón has repeatedly stated that Pascual’s comments have caused serious damage to U.S.-Mexico relations. The New York Times noted that Calderón has been seeking Pascual’s recall for months. A document that was published by WikiLeaks last December of 2010 quoted Mr. Pascual questioning the Mexican Army’s reluctance to act on American intelligence about a drug cartel leader. The cartel leader was later captured by the Mexican Navy. According to CNN, WikiLeaks website quoted U.S. officials talking about “widespread corruption” in Mexican security agencies and “a dysfunctionally low level of collaboration.” This same cable, which was dated January 29, 2010, described the Mexican army as “slow” and “risk averse” and concluded that only 2% of people arrested in Ciudad Juárez, the most violent city in Mexico, were charged with a crime.
President Calderón said he was particularly perturbed by comments he interpreted as implying “Mexican soldiers aren’t brave enough.” In an interview with El Universal last month, the president stated, “I do not have to tell the U.S. ambassador how many times I meet with my security Cabinet. It is none of his business. I will not accept or tolerate any type of intervention. But that man’s ignorance translates into a distortion of what is happening in Mexico, and affects things and creates ill-feeling within our own team.”
It has not yet been determined when Pascual will be leaving Mexico, but Clinton has asked Pascual to stay on for the time being to ensure “an orderly transition.”