February 6, 2002

Fox calls for constitutional changes

MEXICO CITY (AP) --President Vicente Fox has renewed his call to revise the
Mexican constitution, including changes that would allow legislators to hold more
than one term in office.

Fox said the revisions would "be a fundamental step in bringing the country up to
date in the political, economic and social fields."

His call came Tuesday during a speech marking the 85th anniversary of 1917
constitution, which was born out of the Mexican Revolution. He first issued the
appeal to change the constitution at last year's ceremony when he was just over two
months in office.

Powerful presidents and a single party dominated Mexican political life through the
post-revolutionary era until Fox became the first opposition candidate ever to win
Mexico's presidency in 2000.

"We Mexicans have finally achieved free and competitive elections," Fox told
political leaders gathered at the National Palace. "That achievement has been
followed, and will be followed, by changes of enormous transcendence."

Fox said plans he is studying that would allow lawmakers and other elected officials
to hold more than one term would make them more professional and responsive to

Currently, senators are elected only for six-year terms and congressmen for three

He also suggested a new system for adopting the national budget. Fox said his
annual struggle with Congress to win approval of budget and tax reforms had
proved it was "indispensable to improve relations" and to "overcome the annual
drama of the approval of the budget law."

He also repeated his call for Mexico to allow referendums and popular legal

The president proposed greater coordination of police and prosecution systems from
the local to federal level.

As he called for unspecified reforms to labor laws to increase productivity, several
unions were noisily marching through the streets of the capital to protest large-scale

Fox attempted to calm those who accuse the conservative, religious president of
planning to abandoning state education in favor of church schools, repeating his
commitment to secular schools.

He also said it was "absurd" to suggest a probe of corruption in the state oil
company was a cover for privatizing it. He said oil and power generation would
remain under government ownership and control, but added, "private investment
could complement public effort."

While reaching out for allies in other parties, who still control Congress, Fox warned
that his government would not cover up corruption and crimes of the past -- an
implicit reference to probes into use of state oil company funds and into bloody
government crackdowns on dissidents in the 1960s and 1970s.

 Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.