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News Briefs I

Mexico Says U.S. Abuses Its Illegals

The Washington Post
MEXICO CITY

"Stop the Brutality!" screamed the front-page editorial in one of Mexico City's leading dailies.

In one of their most vociferous outbursts of U.S.-bashing in recent months, Mexicans are expressing outrage at back-to-back incidents across the border in which California police beat three Mexican immigrants - and were caught on videotape - and a second episode Saturday when seven illegal immigrants died in an automobile crash during a chase by U.S. Border Patrol agents.

"The violation of justice and of human rights is rooted in xenophobia and racism," the newspaper La Jornada charged in an editorial this weekend.

For many Mexicans, U.S.-bashing is much the same sport that Mexico-bashing is for presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. But in an election year when some of the Republican political rhetoric has been aimed at the United States' southern neighbor, Mexicans have become even more sensitive and outspoken about perceived slights from across the border.

"This aggression is a natural consequence of the direction that political opinion has taken in the United States against foreigners, and Mexicans in particular," charged Jose Angel Conchello, chairman of the Mexican Senate's foreign relations committee.

Nothing in recent years has stirred more bitterness on the part of Mexicans than the repeated videotape playbacks of Riverside, Calif., sheriff's deputies beating three illegal Mexican immigrants after a chase last Monday. Mexicans had much the same reaction to the film, taken by a television crew, as African Americans had to the tape showing Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King in 1991.

When a pickup truck carrying 25 Mexican immigrants crashed Saturday in the same California county while trying to evade U.S. Border Patrol officers, killing seven and injuring 18, Mexicans became even angrier at what they claimed is a trend of increasing brutality against Mexicans in the United States.

Alabama Town's Wounds From Racial Controversy Slow to Heal

The Washington Post
WEDOWEE, Ala.

People here still feel the embarrassment and indignation. Outsiders have the wrong idea. This is not a racist little town, as so many people were led to believe. This is not a place where blacks and whites live together in the thick, denying fog of another time.

But no matter how much the 800 residents of Wedowee (we-DOW-ee) protest the characterization of their home, they cannot escape what brought the town to the attention of the world.

In a pivotal moment two years ago, veteran principal Hulond Humphries - adored by most whites and disliked, it later emerged, by most blacks - attacked interracial dating and threatened to cancel the high-school prom.

Before long, civil-rights protesters and international reporters had converged on the town, the school had been burned to the ground deliberately, and long-buried feelings of resentment and hurt had raged to the surface, never to be fully hidden again.

After the prom controversy, residents of this northeastern Alabama town and the outlying hills and hollows of Randolph County were deeply shaken - whites no longer certain where they stood with their black neighbors, blacks no longer sure they could depend on their white friends to take a stand in a difficult time.

In the span of a few heated weeks, the townspeople's carefully held illusions that everything was fine, everything was fair, no one had any complaints about race and relationships in this corner of the world, were shattered.

"I think healing is way down the road," said Charlotte Clark-Frieson, 42, president of the county chapter of the NAACP and the only black member of the county school board. "A lot of people, I'm sure, don't want to hear me say that. The truth is, the county, the town, has never really been whole. You hear this cliche about the Band-Aid approach? The healing has to occur from the inside out."