In his Washington Post article, the former foreign minister explains why he thinks Mexican President Felipe Calderon is the only Latin American leader suitable or able to take the lead. And here's where he drops a poison pill: The Mexican president can't be expected to assume his proper role against Chavez and the Castros unless the United States gives in on "comprehensive immigration reform."
"Comprehensive immigration reform" is castaÃ±edaspeak for uncontrolled Mexican emigration into the United States - his main agenda as foreign minister.
What CastaÃ±eda is really saying is that not a single democratic leader in Latin America is willing to stand up to Chavez on his own, or even capable of doing so, and that not even the president of Mexico will try unless he squeezes huge concessions from the United States first. And here is where CastaÃ±eda's otherwise excellent ideological and political warfare idea flops.
CastaÃ±eda then hints at Mexican extortion to get its way: Calderon, he says, might cut a separate peace with Chavez. No surprise there. That's how CastaÃ±eda has always operated.
He is reinforcing the stereotype of Mexican leaders: they might do the right thing - if you bribe them.
Back when he was foreign minister, CastaÃ±eda was more interested in dismantling the hemispheric security system, using the United Nations as a platform against the US, and running covert political operations inside the US to accommodate Mexican emigration. (For its part, Mexico has very tough immigration laws.)
This when President George W. Bush brought then-President Vicente Fox to the White House and proclaimed his goal of a "special relationship" with Mexico - a term we had only reserved for the United Kingdom. Then, after 9/11 hit, Foreign Minister CastaÃ±eda made sure that Mexico was one of the last countries in the world to issue condolences to the United States after the 9/11 attacks.
All this when Chavez was on the rise, Venezuela still had a viable opposition, and Mexico could have taken the lead.
Latin American democrats will have to push back Chavez on their own. They won't do a thing if Washington takes the lead, and most would snipe at the US if it did. So CastaÃ±eda is floating his idea to extort bribes from the United States. He still seems more intent on intervening in the internal affairs of this country (where he lives) than helping his own country step out of its shell and solve bigger problems in the hemisphere.
A few years from now, he will probably say that Chavez's campaign of hemispheric chaos was directly due to Washington's failure to appease Mexican demands that the US change its immigration laws.