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Mexican President, Congress Attempt to Forge Dialogue - 2002-04-30

Mexican President Vicente Fox is making an effort to find common ground with legislators after having many of his proposals blocked in Congress. Legislators are also recognizing the public perception that they are being obstructionist.

After participating in private talks with President Fox late Monday, senators from the major political parties expressed satisfaction with the new attempt at dialogue. The senate leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI, Senator Enrique Jackson expressed a willingness to continue the search for common ground.

He said it is now time to turn the page and start a new relationship between the legislative and executive powers. He said there should now be an effort to find areas of agreement in order to move forward.

The representative of Mr. Fox's party, the National Action Party, Senator Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, called the talks "respectful and constructive."

He said both President Fox and Interior Minister Santiago Creel had shown an open, respectful attitude in the meeting and that this had been reciprocated by the senators.

Public dissatisfaction with the deadlock between Mr. Fox and the legislature played a role in pushing the two sides to meet. Senator Demetrio Sodi of the leftist party, the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, says it is important that the Congress act efficiently on proposals in order to deflect public criticism.

But there are few signs that either the PRI or the PRD legislators are ready to approve any part of the president's most important proposals. A Fox proposal to allow private investment in the state-run electrical energy sector has been rejected by the senate, and a Supreme Court ruling last week struck down Mr. Fox's efforts to open the sector somewhat by presidential decree.

The court ruling caused foreign firms to cancel more than three billion dollars in planned investment in the Mexican electricity sector. Since the government does not have that kind of money to invest, it will either have to cut back on other programs or develop a deficit in order to meet the need.

In order to maintain growth at or above five percent a year, analysts say Mexico needs to invest more than $5 billion a year in energy generation. If the country fails to do so, economic expansion could slow and job creation could falter.