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Recent Radio Live derogatory references to Mexico

Embassy of Mexico

For immediate release
20 October 2009

It was with dismay that I heard a recording of part of a recent Radio Live broadcast in which host John Tamihere made derogatory references to Mexico. The context was the debacle over the World Cup broadcast rights and the former Cabinet Minister expressed surprise that the perceived inequitable treatment of the parties by the government could have happened in this country, though ‘you’d expect this from Mexican politicians, you’d expect it from a banana republic’.

As Radio New Zealand’s Colin Peacock so correctly noted on his Media Watch programme four days later on 18 October, it was ironic that Mr Tamihere was complaining about racism while indulging in racist commentary of his own. To imply that playing favourites is endemic in Mexican politics and to implicitly equate the country with a banana republic, which is of course a highly pejorative term, is most offensive to all Mexicans and especially to the constantly growing number who currently reside in New Zealand.

Mexico’s democracy is now more robust than at any time in its history. The country is New Zealand’s main trading partner in Latin America and great strides have been made in recent years in the development of the economy. Opportunities abound in this youthful nation, where the average age is 26. Moreover, the country is moving into a new era of celebration and festivities with the milestone that will be reached in 2010 when we commemorate the 200th anniversary of Mexican Independence and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution.

Fortunately, such gratuitous use of stereotypical references to Mexico which are based on ignorance and a misguided attempt at humour, rather than on any desire to convey information, are rarely encountered in the New Zealand media, and for that we are most grateful.

Yours sincerely,

Luis Enrique Franco
Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.


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