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President Felipe Calderon: Don't talk bad about Mexico

March 27, 2010 |  1:48 pm

Felipecalderon If you don't have anything nice to say, then just don't say it, Mexican President Felipe Calderon seems to be telling his countrymen. Speaking Friday during an event to promote Mexican tourism, the conservative Calderon complained that Mexicans both here and abroad talk too negatively about their country -- unlike, Calderon said, Brazilians, who, as the president sees it, live in a more violent country than Mexico.

"The problem that is affecting us especially in tourism is perception and image," Calderon said. "Because, that's right, Mexico is demonized and reproached, even by Mexicans. But, that's right, Brazil, which has double [the homicides of Mexico], takes the World Cup and the Olympics Games. I've never heard a Brazilian speak bad about Brazil."

If those words sound a bit over the top to you, you're not the only one. Calderon's statements sparked a barrage of angry -- let's say "bad" -- reactions among Mexican Twitter users. One responded: "Someone tell Felipe Calderon we're not speaking bad about Mexico, we're speaking bad about him."

Mexico's president often stumbles when speaking off the cuff in public.

In January he sparked an outcry when he initially suggested the 15 young people killed in a mass shooting in Ciudad Juarez were narco-gang members. Turns out most were accomplished high school students.  Last June, he said in a public event that young Mexicans turn to a life of crime with the cartels because "they don't believe in God, they don't know him."

Calderon is understandably under a lot of pressure right now. Criticism is mounting and mounting on both sides of the border about his enforcement-heavy anti-narco campaign, which has resulted in more than 18,000 deaths since December, 2006. When and how will we know if we are winning against the drug smugglers? (We don't, and that's the problem, argues blogger and analyst Patrick Corcoran.)

And when, as citizens or concerned Americans, will it be OK to "talk bad" about the effort?

--Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City.

Photo: Mexican President Felipe Calderon scolds those who speak ill of Mexico. Credit: El Universal.