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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 May 2006, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Press unease over Bush border plan
Pro-immigration protesters at a counter-demonstration against the Minutemen Project
The issue has prompted protests from both sides

US President George W Bush's announcement of plans to beef up security on the US' southern border receives extensive coverage in the press in Mexico and Central America.

While editorial writers take time to digest the implications of the proposals, many papers run the story on their front pages, with headlines and reports reflecting unease at what they see as the militarisation of a civil issue.

"Troops versus wetbacks", runs a headline in Nicaragua's El Nuevo Diario, using the derogative term for Mexicans who swim across the Rio Grande to enter the US illegally.

In Honduras, El Heraldo quotes "experts" as saying "The dispatch of troops to the border is a political ploy".

Another Honduras paper, Diario La Tribuna carries the headline "US militarises the frontier to stop illegals", a theme echoed in El Salvador's El Diario de Hoy: "US militarises its southern border."

Bush stressed the United States considers Mexico a partner and a friend
Mexico's El Universal

San Salvador's La Prensa Grafica declares "They're building more detention centres".

A headline on the front page of Mexico's leftist daily La Jornada says Mr Bush assured his Mexican counterpart Vicente Fox that he only envisaged "a 'light' militarisation of the frontier".

However, a report in Mexico's El Universal says Mr Bush sought to assure Mr Fox there were no plans to militarise the border, only to enlist the "administrative and logistical help of the National Guard".

"Bush stressed the United States considers Mexico a partner and a friend he respects."

The paper also said the opposition Revolutionary Democratic Party, whose candidate is thought to have a good chance of winning the presidential election in July, described the plan as "unjustified, unacceptable, and implying a very serious aggression against a sovereign nation".

Plummeting popularity

La Cronica de Hoy says that Mr Bush "is seeking to placate the ultraconservatives who brought him to power" especially as his popularity ratings have fallen to an all-time low among members of his own party.

"Bush has already increased the border patrol from 9,000 to 12,000, and they have sent back six million people without documents - almost all Mexicans.

Marred in a sea of contradictions
El Sol de Mexico

"Those who are not from Mexico are allowed to stay, provided they promise to appear before a tribunal at a later date, which hardly any end up doing," the Mexico City-based paper adds.

Another Mexican paper, Reforma, says Mexico's foreign ministry has expressed its concern about the plans and has "instructed consular officials in the US to redouble their efforts to ensure the protection of our citizens' rights".

El Sol de Mexico describes the US immigration reforms as "marred in a sea of contradictions".

"One of the few coherent statements made by Vicente Fox is that the border is a grey zone, which apart from being a crossing for migrants, also serves as base for organised crime."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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