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Fox Reaches Agreement with Opposition Parties - 2001-10-08

Mexican President Vicente Fox has achieved a first-ever political accord with the leaders of eight opposition parties to clear the way for structural reforms. But, it is still not clear what compromises have been made to reach the agreement and what form the final proposals will take.

In a meeting Sunday President Fox told political party leaders that they had made the right choice for Mexico. He said the agreement between the executive and the political parties permits them to move forward, unified in their plurality, in favor of the nation's great aspirations.

But the agreement is written in general terms, committing the parties to such ideas as the promotion of job creation and the alleviation of poverty. As the saying goes, the devil may be in the details. Still, most analysts say the pact will help the Fox government cement deals with members of at least some opposition parties in order to achieve fiscal reform and a restructuring of the energy sector.

The pact also included a section committing the country to the fight against terrorism, even though members of at least one leftist party had criticized President Fox for supporting the United States in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

Some Mexican politicians have continued their criticism of Mr. Fox and the U.S. attacks on military targets in Afghanistan. Many traditional nationalists here express the fear that Mexico will somehow be drawn into a war or made subordinate to dictates from Washington.

On Monday, Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda once again countered such critics. He says Mexico is not at war with anyone, it is simply backing the actions taken by other nations. In this he referred to the bombing campaign initiated Sunday by the United States and Britain.

Mexico will have more opportunity to back such actions or question them, depending on the circumstances, now that it has been elected to a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. The Fox government has made clear its commitment to the war against terrorism and its backing of the United States in this effort, but the internal debate in Mexico is likely to continue.