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Fox Cites Progress in Rebuilding Mexico - 2001-09-02


Mexican President Vicente Fox came before his country's Congress Saturday to deliver his first informe, or state of the nation address. Mr. Fox was interrupted several times by protests and catcalls from opposition legislators who accuse him of failing to fulfill his many promises.

Wearing a dark suit and the green, white and red presidential sash, President Fox spoke of the progress he has made in the past nine months since taking office. He said his government is trying to build a new nation without shocks or trauma.

Mr. Fox ended 71 years of one-party rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), when he won the July 2000 presidential election. In his speech, he asked for patience, saying "it is not possible to transform the nation in a matter of months."

President Fox admitted that he has yet to complete much of his program, but said he had not forgotten his promises.

He said he was well aware of the needs of the people and their expectations of him. He said he knows there is still much to be done.

At times, the president had difficulty finishing his statements because of disruptions in the hall. Some opposition legislators held up signs and others simply shouted their disapproval. In years past, the informe or annual state of the nation address was treated as a solemn occasion. But with the democratic opening in Mexico, the constitutionally required action has taken on some aspects of political theater.

Even before President Fox appeared in the chamber, he suffered a small political wound. Green Party Senator Jorge Emilio Gonzalez announced that his party was breaking its alliance with Mr. Fox's National Action Party. The Green Party holds only 16 of the 500 seats in Congress, but the Fox government is having a difficult time finding sufficient votes to advance its programs.

The official answer to the Fox speech was delivered by the PRI's Beatrice Paredes Rangel, who chairs the Chamber of Deputies. She outlined differences between the former ruling party and the Fox government, making a special reference to agriculture and the needs of poor farmers, which she said have been neglected.