President Obama's pick for Mexico ambassador

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LISA MULLINS: I'm Lisa Mullins and this is The World. President Barack Obama's pick to be the next US Ambassador to Mexico is a Cuban-born former career diplomat. His name is Carlos Pascual. His selection for the post didn't make a lot of news here in the United States but some in Mexico are upset about the choice. The World's Lorne Matalon has more from Mexico City.

LORNE MATALON: Carlos Pascual fled Cuba in 1962 with his parents when he was three years old. Today he's an expert on conflict management. Pascual's had a long diplomatic career. He was US Ambassador to Ukraine from 2000 to 2003 and served in Africa and Latin America. Most recently Pascual was at the Brookings Institution where he headed the Iraq Policy Project. He co-authored an article on Afghanistan entitled The Danger of Failed States. And that's a sensitive topic for Mexico after the US military issued a report suggesting Mexico is at risk of becoming a fail state so Pascual's nomination has upset some people here. Lorenzo Mayer specializes in the US/Mexico relationship at the Colegio de Mexico.

LORENZO MAYER: Mexico doesn't want to admit that we are not a failing state but even close to that. So the government is not pleased and not even the public is pleased with idea of receiving as an ambassador that is an expert in failing states because the messenger is the message. But on the other hand it's quite understandable that the United States is signaling that they are not very happy with the weaknesses of Mexican institutions.

MATALON: In early April, before President Obama's visit to Mexico City the government of Felipe Calderon received word from Washington that Pascual would be the nominee. Mexico took a month to finally say we approve. Amy Glover is a member of Mexico's Council on Foreign Relations.

AMY GLOVER: Dragging this process out was a little bit of a sign saying, ?hey we're not that pleased with this decision and the message that is underlying it.?

MATALON: Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa won't comment on the delay.


MATALON: But she says her government is ready to work with Pascual when he arrives in Mexico. Despite some of the negative reaction to the nomination political commentator Sergio Sarmiento says Pascual is an excellent choice.

SERGIO SARMIENTO: The criticism that I've heard and seen about Carlos Pascual is only focusing on a very narrow part of his experience. He's a top rated diplomat. He has wide-ranging experience in a lot of issues not only on failed states. Of course you never know exactly what the role of an ambassador is going to be but I have no doubts that he will be a good ambassador.

MATALON: Pascual also would like to see a change in US policy toward Cuba. That's a theme that resonates in Mexico. Despite recent friction between Mexico and Havana over illegal immigration and Mexico's handling of the flu crisis. Pascual has written that current US policy has eroded Washington's ability to help democratize Cuba and left the US isolated in Latin America. For The World I'm Lorne Matalon in Mexico City.