The Miami Herald
Oct. 03, 2002

Mexico's Fox nominates new ambassador to Cuba

From Herald Wire Services

  MEXICO CITY - Longtime diplomat Roberta Lajous will ''faithfully'' represent Mexico as the country's new ambassador to Cuba, President Vicente Fox said Wednesday.

  In announcing the nomination, Fox's comment appeared to be a reference to Lajous' predecessor, Ricardo Pascoe, who was asked to step down after he sparred with Foreign Secretary Jorge Castañeda over strained Mexico-Cuba relations.

  Pascoe largely supported Havana's communist government, while Castañeda has squabbled with Cuban officials, including leader Fidel Castro.

  Pascoe on Wednesday accused the Fox government of kowtowing to Miami exiles by changing the country's foreign policy toward the island.

  ''It is evident that there is an attitude of complacency [expressed] by opinions which are more from Miami than from Washington,'' Pascoe said.

  Lajous began her diplomatic career in 1980 and has served as Mexico's ambassador to Austria as well as the country's alternate representative before the United

  In a statement released Wednesday, Fox said he believed Lajous' nomination would be confirmed by the Senate. Opposition lawmakers, however, have criticized Fox's policy toward Cuba, a longtime ally of Mexico. Many were angered that Fox prodded Castro to leave a major summit in Mexico on March 21 -- a day before President Bush was to arrive.

  In the statement, Fox said Lajous and her staff would ''respond faithfully to the directives'' of the Mexican government. He added that ties between the two countries would remain the same.

  In another appointment, Fox named Arturo Puente as Mexico's ambassador to Lebanon. Puente has spent 25 years in diplomatic service, serving in Mexican consulates in Montreal, Miami, Houston and Chicago, among other cities.