France said it would use its 'Year of Mexico' cultural event as a forum to press for the release of Florence Cassez, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence in Mexico for kidnapping.
France’s "Year of Mexico," launched five days ago as a celebration of Mexican arts and culture, so far seems more like the year of clash with Mexico as relations between the two countries grow increasingly strained over the case of a Frenchwoman imprisoned in Mexico.
Yesterday, Mexico pulled out of the French event after France announced that some 350 events, films, and symposia planned for the year would be used to push for the release of Florence Cassez, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence for kidnapping. Ms. Cassez recently lost an appeal in the case that steams from her 2005 arrest for kidnapping. The French population has taken up her cause as a case of Mexican injustice.
When Mexico learned that the "Year of Mexico" would be used to make the case for Cassez's release, it said it wasn't having any part of it. Mexico "will not allow its artists and creators, or its businessmen and other participants in this program, to be exposed," the Mexican foreign ministry said Monday.
The ministry also criticized French President Nicolas Sarkozy. That “a head of state would make a foreign policy decision that affects ties between two nations and governments in consultation with a person condemned by Mexican justice for a particularly serious crime" is unacceptable, it said.