Carmen Diaz-Llanos
Paseo Pintor Rosales, 40
Tercer Piso
Madrid 28008


May 1, 2002


The Honorable James Baker, III
Baker & Botts
1299 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Suite 13West
Washington, D.C. 20004


Dear Mr. Secretary:


I write in my capacity as president of the Saharawi Association of Madrid. We met in the POLISARIO camps on your visit there after you accepted Secretary General Kofi Annan's offer to represent him in the U.N. peacekeeping mission for Western Sahara. There was at that time quite a bit of skepticism about your willingness or ability to take any action that would go against Morocco's interests. I for one expressed confidence in you as fair and principled arbitrator who would do the right thing, regardless of political pressures.

In Spanish we have the word decepcionada which means disappointed. It is also close to the English word deceived. I am decepcionada, disappointed with your recommendation to the General Assembly for so-called autonomy for Western Sahara, and I have been deceived by the great expectations you engendered in us when in fact your "solution," if that's what we can call it, has made the situation worse than it was when you arrived. A countryman of yours noted the gap between the expectations you generated and the meagre results you produced in the words of the Roman poet Horace: "The mountains were in labor and a mouse was brought forth."

I am not going to argue the case for holding the referendum. Too many others have done that more effectively than I ever could. As far back as 1975 the World Court denied Morocco's right to Western Sahara, and the Security Council has ordered the holding of a referendum. The testimony of every independent observer from the NY TIMES to Human Rights Watch has confirmed Morocco's efforts to wreck that Referendum. As recently as this year, the General Counsel of the U.N., Mr. Hans Correll, once again denied Morocco's right to administer Western Sahara. And yet Morocco remains in Western Sahara, fat and happy, and your country, which is selective about those Security Council Resolutions it takes seriously, looks the other way.

It was realpolitik in the Cold War, as then Ambassador Moynihan pointed out in his memoirs, when the United States would side with Morocco against the POLISARIO. The Cold War is over, but your government continues to help a North African dictator holding on to power by his fingernails frustrate the right of the people of Western Sahara to determine their own future by referendum. It is as if you learned nothing from Iran. You must know too that the Referendum is a cause that is supported by fair-minded Americans, Conservative Republicans as well as Democrats, in your country.

There have been rumors about the Kerr-McGee Oil Company coming to Western Sahara and your interest in their activities. I give these rumors short shrift. I am sorry to have to say that I see a much more basic explanation. Through your failure in Western Sahara you come across as a man without the courage to take on Morocco and do the right and obvious thing. To paraphrase George Orwell, you must have to be a diplomat to justify postponing the Referendum. Ordinary people would have too much common sense.

You did well to say you would resign if the Security Council rejected your proposal. It is what honorable people do when they fail. But I see that like that actor, Alec Baldwin, who threatened to move to England if President Bush were elected, you too have reneged. More's the pity. You could at least have salvaged your honor.


Carmen Diaz-Llanos


[Communiqués, lettres, Documents...] [HOME]