It was probably too much to hope that a Mexican election could be staged without at least one round of gringo-bashing; the United States is always a handy target for any Mexican politician wanting to flaunt his anti-imperialist credentials. But the means that Mexico's ruling party has chosen this time to make points--releasing Puerto Rican terrorist William Morales instead of extraditing him to the United States--is particularly outrageous.
Foreign Minister Bernardo Sepulveda, who overrode a Mexican court's decision to extradite Morales, said that he let the convicted terrorist seek refuge in Cuba because Morales would have faced "political persecution" in the United States. Sepulveda and his countrymen insist that Morales --a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation, a Puerto Rican separatist group--is a political activist fighting for a worthy cause, Puerto Rican independence, and not an ordinary criminal. Mexico's distinction between political crimes and ordinary crimes may have some justification if a convict is about to be extradited to a repressive society with no forum for dissent, but surely the United States does not fall into that category.
As for "political persecution," it is worth noting that Morales escaped to Mexico in 1979 from a New York City hospital ward where surgeons were preparing to fit him with artificial hands; his own hands had been blown off when a bomb that he was making exploded prematurely. Implicated in dozens of bombings, he had been convicted in two separate trials and sentenced to more than 100 years in prison. Morales undertook his deadly crimes for a cause that had been repudiated in 1967 by a majority of Puerto Ricans, who voted to retain their status as a self-governing commonwealth of the United States. Responsible Puerto Ricans are again demanding change, but so far they have not agreed on whether it should be independence or U.S. statehood.