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Mexico: Many of Fox's Programs Stalled by Opposition - 2002-08-27

Mexican President Vicente Fox is only a few months from completing his second year in office, but much of his program remains stalled by opposition parties. The Mexican leader continues to draw support from the citizenry and maintains a good image abroad, partly because of the bold moves he has made against organized crime. But even Mr. Fox says that far more needs to be done.

With his fiscal reform only partially in place and his energy reform proposal stalled by politics, President Fox is seeking help wherever he can get it. Last week, he gained an agreement with leaders of the former ruling party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI, to work together to reform the energy sector. The dialogue was condemned by PRI hardliners and leaders of leftist parties, but Mr. Fox continues to insist that economic growth cannot be sustained if private sector investment is not allowed into the energy business, which is currently under government control.

While international investors are watching this development with interest, they are also applauding moves made by the Fox government to reduce crime and corruption. In the past several months, government agents have arrested or killed a number of notorious drug smugglers and kidnappers.

Mr. Fox expresses satisfaction over these accomplishments, but he says more progress is needed. He says there is evidence that organized crime groups continue to count on help from within the various law enforcement agencies in Mexico and that his government will continue its anti-corruption drive. While politics has delayed some of his programs, Mr. Fox has found general support for his anti-crime efforts.

One of the crimes that has most vexed Mexicans is kidnapping. President Fox says 20 of the largest kidnap gangs have been dismantled in recent months and 115 persons rescued. But the problem continues and many victims are afraid to report the crime because local police are often involved with the gangs. Crime experts rank Mexico as one of the worst countries in the world for kidnapping.