News & Current Affairs

September 27, 2008

Republican quits in Hispanic row

Republican quits in Hispanic row

Mr de Baca said he was referring to the older generation of Hispanics

A Republican official in the US has resigned over comments he made to the BBC that “Hispanics consider themselves above blacks”.

Fernando de Baca, the chairman of the Republican Party in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, also said Hispanics “won’t vote for a black president”.

Mr de Baca spoke last week but resisted calls from his own party to resign, saying he was quoted out of context.

He said he decided to step down because of the “media circus” that developed.

Mr de Baca had been approached by the BBC’s Jon Kelly for comments on the presidential election campaign at the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque, part of Bernalillo County.

He was explaining why he thought John McCain would do well in the state, which has large population of Hispanics.

“The truth is that Hispanics came here as conquerors. African-Americans came here as slaves.”

He said the Latino emphasis on hard work and family values and the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion made the community naturally conservative.

The remarks appeared on the BBC News website on its Talking America blog.

After calls grew for his resignation, he said the comments were taken out of context and that he was referring to views held by the older generation of Hispanics.

“Snippets were used to try and embarrass me,” Mr de Baca, 70, told the Associated Press (AP) news agency.

He said a “media circus” had developed that was obscuring the election issues.

“It’s time to step aside and let the candidates and the political races that are so important to this country and democracy be placed in focus,” he told AP.

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September 9, 2008

Mexico kidnap suspects detained

Mexico kidnap suspects detained

Hector Slim (left) and Alejandro Marti

Fernando Marti’s father, Alejandro (right), had reportedly paid a ransom

Mexican police say they have detained five people suspected of involvement in the kidnap and killing of a teenager whose murder sparked national protests.

Prosecutors in Mexico City said those arrested included a former policeman.

The death of Fernando Marti, 14, whose decomposing body was found in the boot of a car in August, led to calls for tougher punishment for serious crimes.

In response, Mexican President Felipe Calderon drew up an emergency program to tackle violent crime.

At least 2,700 people have been killed and 300 kidnapped so far this year, mostly in drugs-related violence.

Ransom

Mexico City prosecutor Miguel Marcera said Fernando Marti’s alleged kidnappers disguised themselves as police officers and set up a bogus checkpoint on a busy street in the capital to capture their victim.

Last month his decomposing body was found in the boot of a car, even though his father, a wealthy businessman, had reportedly paid a ransom.

Investigators believe Fernando may have been killed because the kidnappers were not satisfied with the money they received.

What is certain is that in a country with abduction and murder rates among the highest in the world, his treatment sparked off a mass protest movement by Mexicans demanding tougher punishment for serious crimes.

After more than 100,000 people held a march in Mexico City calling for an end to such brutal acts, the government was pressured to draw up an programme to tackle violent crime, including a purge of corrupt police officers, and the building of prisons for kidnappers.

Mexicans have grown weary of politicians’ promises to do something about the violence, but they hope that for the sake of children like Fernando, the government’s pledge to redouble its efforts may start to bear results.

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