Whatever exactly happened between last Thursday and Monday that got Mexico’s representative at UNESCO in Paris Andrés Isaac Roemer Slomianksi fired by Foreign Relations (SRE) Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu is seemingly a diplomatic mess.
A press release dated Oct. 17 says the following:
“The Foreign Relations Secretariat informed that Andrés Roemer Slomianski was removed as head of Mexico’s permanent representation to the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) due to different causes, among them that he issued, without the permission of the chancellor’s office, his vote in favor of the preservation of the cultural heritage in East Jerusalem.”
“Today the government of Mexico will announce in the UNESCO executive council meeting that it changes its vote for one of abstention on this issue.”
The rift between SRE and Ambassador Roemer broke out even before the 58-country vote on an Arab drafted resolution that denied Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s Temple Mont and the Western (Wailing) Wall.
Roemer was ordered by SRE to vote in favor and he did, but as the votes were going to be cast he walked out of the hall in protest against his own nation’s resolution. He left an assistant behind to cast the vote.
The vote was 24 in favor, 6 against, 26 abstaining, and 2 absent. UN Watch said the text’s failure to obtain a majority was a moral victory for Israel. Mexico was one of the 24 countries that voted in favor of the resolution.
Yet in Mexico, the SRE vote in favor and then the hesitating resolution to take the vote back and change it to abstention was not well seen, particularly by the Mexico Jewish Community, whose president Salomon Achar said the community “laments that Mexico was one of the 24 nations voting in favor” and called the mostly pro-Palestinian resolution “historical revisionism,” denying the “sacred site” as the birthplace of the world’s three great monotheist religions.
At SRE headquarters in Mexico, Roemer was immediately declared in rebellion, and he did not immediately submit his resignation given the Mexican vote, but he refrained under the advice of several UNESCO ambassadors including Israel representative Shamma-HaCohen.
“I found your consideration to resign from your post as pre-matured and rushed [sic]. I am sure that you will be a great asset to Mexico and a friend to Israel,” HaCohen wrote to Roemer.
Yet after the rift became public, local Mexico City media informed that the now ousted ambassador Roemer was used as a scapegoat for the vote in favor “without consulting the Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights and without realizing that countries like France, Spain and Argentina would change their traditional position and abstain.”
Another charge by SRE against Roemer was that he told other nations (namely Israel) of the upcoming Mexican vote in favor of the Arab drafted resolution and “he made public the documents and official mail subject to the secrecy of those under obligation by the Mexican Foreign Service Law.”
Roemer is now inevitably expelled from the nation’s Foreign Service, but SRE now blames him for voting in favor of the resolution.
The change of opinion in the vote, says SRE, represents the recognition Mexico has for the Jewish people and the cultural heritage site in East Jerusalem.
Strangely enough, this incident comes just 20 days after President Enrique Peña Nieto visited Israel to attend the funeral of Shimon Peres.
It’s noteworthy to mention that when Andrés Roemer was approved by the Senate to the UNESCO post, several senators opposed his appointment claiming he lacked diplomatic experience as he had only been consul to San Francisco.
But a reality check has it that Secretary Ruiz Massieu knew about the vote but did not foresee the blistering scandal it would bring about, now angering the Arab nations in favor of it because of the retraction.
This is bad diplomacy as Mexico, who boasts 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, will surely pay dearly for the mistake when the time comes for the application of a new one.
Somebody at SRE screwed up!