Mexican President Announces Media Boycott During Trip to U.S.
A news conference that was scheduled in Utah was canceled, as well as reporters' questions at five other events in the state. Events in Seattle and California will also bar reporters' questions. One organizer of the Utah events, Joe Reyna, says, "President Fox is not giving any exclusives (to anyone) in Utah, Seattle or California due to the heated ... debate over immigration."
The media will no doubt not make an issue of his ducking them, as they sympathize with his plight and understand the trying times he is in, with incessant attacks from his northern neighbors.
Reports the Deseret News:
One native Mexican professor at the University of Utah thinks he knows why Fox doesn't want to talk to reporters.
No questions. No questions. No questions. No questions. No questions. No questions. That's the official policy for Mexican President Vicente Fox's 24-hour visit to Utah that begins today.
According to the latest version of the Mexican leader's schedule, released Monday by Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s office, Fox won't be saying anything here beyond his scripted speeches to various groups, including the Utah Legislature.
The schedule spells out that there are to be "no questions" at each of the six events Fox will attend and includes a note stating that a previously announced news conference "has been canceled due to scheduling changes."
With immigration increasingly a volatile topic, Fox appears to be playing it safe in Utah by avoiding any opportunity to make a misstatement. He even went so far as to cancel meetings with newspaper editorial boards.
And it's not just Utah. The Mexican leader apparently won't be talking much to the media during his other stops on this visit to the United States. He's scheduled to be in both Seattle and Sacramento before returning to Mexico.
Why? "President Fox is not giving any exclusives (to anyone) in Utah, Seattle or California due to the heated ... debate over immigration," one of the organizers of the visit, Joe Reyna, said in an e-mail to the Deseret Morning News.
One political expert says it's much safer for President Fox to remain silent.
"Typical Mexicans," Armando Solorzano said laughing. A native of Mexico and professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah, he believed the lack of media access to Fox may have had more to do with message control than scheduling.
"You never know," he said. "But Mexico is very concerned about it's image."
There's illegal immigration in the United States, and Mexico is also dealing with sensitive situations with Venezuela, Cuba and Ecuador, Solorzano said.
"Mexicans, as a tradition, deal with diplomats rather than the press," he said. "They want to control the kind of information they can release."
Solorzano speculated that Fox may just not want to be "exposed to the series of questions" that could compromise the image he's seeking to present.
"They never talk or announce what they're going to do; they tell the press what they have already done," Solorzano said. "It's a different culture in dealing with the press. ... It's a matter of controlling the message."
A member of the nationwide group La Raza, which translates literally into "The Race," says Fox is afraid to inflame more ant-illegal immigrant sentiment in the U.S.
There is not much for Fox to gain by answering media questions about immigration, but there is plenty to lose, said Kirk Jowers, director of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics. "There's certainly a lot more downside than upside for him talking to the press."
The visit, Jowers said, "still gives him a great platform to say the right things." What it doesn't do is "give him a chance to make a statement that would anger the Bush administration or even make it uncomfortable for Governor Huntsman."
"Maybe he just doesn't want to rock the boat in terms of setting up any more anti-immigration activity, as there already is, so the Senate can go ahead and do what they want to do with a solution," Cordova said.