Friday, November 10, 2006

President Fox's Very Bad Week

The following post is from El Universal (English Language Daily published by Miami Herald)
Fox can´t hide from troubles as term ending
Wire services
El Universal

Viernes 10 de noviembre de 2006

The very bad week of lame duck President Vicente Fox began shortly after midnight Monday with a series of guerrilla bombings, and it´s been downhill from there.

On Tuesday, Fox was ordered by lawmakers not to leave Mexico on an overseas trip, and he has since been captured on TV making indiscreet statements and been sued by his own lawyers.

Nobody was hurt in Monday´s bombings of a bank building, the country´s highest electoral tribunal and a national party headquarters.

But the incidents caught the attention of international investors who until then had figured the country´s increasingly restless opposition movement was largely benign.

The drug war raging along the border and erupting on the Pacific Coast already has money people nervous about doing business here. Now add bomb-throwing radicals to the list.


Mexico´s lower house voted Tuesday to keep Fox from leaving next week for a trade mission to Vietnam and Australia.

They said that Fox, whose six- year term ends this month, ought to be home restoring order in Oaxaca´s capital city, where thousands of federal police and protesters have been battling for weeks.

Vietnam, maybe, said lawmakers, where the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation will hold a two-day summit. But the lawmakers weren´t buying a four-day stopover in Australia, Mexico´s 32nd largest trading partner and home to one of Fox´s daughters.

"It´s great that the daughter of President Fox went to study in another country," said federal lawmaker Erick López Barriga. "But maybe it would be better for him to make a working visit to Oaxaca; better to go to the border; better that he stay and try to resolve the security problems in our own country."

It was an old story for Fox, who lost his reform battles on taxes, energy and labor in Congress, and he reacted angrily to the humiliation.

"We can´t allow, in this time of democracy, the president to be kidnapped because of a few people," he said that night.


The next morning, Fox´s former attorneys filed a lawsuit alleging that he neglected to pay them US$3 million in legal bills he ran up to defend against charges of laundering money from U.S. donors in his 2000 presidential campaign.

A fear of U.S. interests buying a Mexican election makes it illegal to receive foreign donations or campaign abroad.

The case had been seen as a slam-dunk against Fox but attorney Arturo Quintero won it, with the only penalty being a fine paid instead by Fox´s National Action Party.

"I worked a long time and got very good results," Quintero said in a radio interview.

The president agreed personally to square the legal bill more than year ago, said Quintero, who added that he still hasn´t seen a dime. "It´s a private matter between them," said Fox spokesman Rubén Aguilar.


Fox again made headlines Thursday, when newspapers reported, and broadcasted, him telling a TV interviewer at Los Pinos, the presidential residence: "I can say whatever stupid thing I want. Really. I´m getting ready to leave."

Tall and strapping, even at 64, Fox is popular and engaging in a crowd. But his image has weakened.

The list of complaints against him is long, beginning with poor job growth, his failure to settle with angry Oaxacan protesters and his inability to stem the corruption, kidnappings, beheadings, dismemberment, body burnings and other grim fall-out of the country´s drug wars.

He also suffered the ignominy of the sabotage of his last State of the Nation by sympathizers of losing presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador,

As if things couldn´t get any worse, there´s a cumbia-style pop song, "Fox, Hand it Over and Leave," sharing the airwaves these days with his publicly funded touts.

The last verse of the Guillermo Zapata song, very roughly translated: "You´re going back to your ranch to milk a (cow) vaca, because you couldn´t fix Oaxaca."

Carlos Martínez and Cecilia Sánchez of the Times´ Mexico City bureau contributed to this report.

© 2006 Copyright El Universal-El Universal Online

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