May 2, 2003

Division develops in Mexico's PRI

National, local bosses in selection spat

TOLUCA, Mexico (AP) --With a crucial congressional election just two months away, a
bitter division has opened in the Institutional Revolutionary Party that long dominated
Mexican politics.

The chairman of the PRI in Mexico's most populous state, Isidro Pastor,
denounced the party's national leader on Thursday due to anger over the party's
selection of congressional candidates.

Pastor said he did not recognize Roberto Madrazo as head of the party's
National Executive Committee, saying Madrazo failed to respect agreements to
give state bodies a greater say in naming candidates and instead packed lists of
candidates with his own allies.

He said he would not cooperate with national PRI officials in the upcoming

The PRI has been trying to determine how to divide up internal power since
losing the presidency in 2000 to Vicente Fox of the National Action Party.

For 71 years before that, all Mexican presidents had been members - and de
facto rulers - of the PRI. Madrazo's own father had been a PRI party leader
who was forced to resign after challenging a president's power.

Party gained in recent elections

The spat comes less than two months after Pastor and Madrazo cooperated in
Mexico State elections that saw the PRI recover some key positions it had lost
in recent years.

That election had been seen as a good omen heading into the July 6
congressional race that will determine whether the PRI loses its plurality in
congress as well as the presidency.

"We are against the culture of submission and of a party line," Pastor told a
news conference. "We have to have a constant struggle, without people who
seek compromise because they are told they will be rewarded if they don't
move or don't say something."

Pastor's outburst was similar to outbursts by other PRI labor and political
leaders who had lost internal party battles in recent years. Most have quickly
reached agreement with national leaders, but some ended up leaving the party.

In Mexico City, meanwhile, national party spokesman Carlos Jimenez referred
to the controversy as "a sterile debate" and insisted that the party lists came out
of "a process of negotiation and dialogue with all the political actors."

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press.