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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Northridge

Mexican Candidate Speaks at CSUN

May 10, 2000|ROBERTO J. MANZANO

Continuing his campaign tour of the Southland, Mexican presidential candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas told Cal State Northridge students on Tuesday that he would seek to improve Mexico's justice and economic systems and keep more children in school.

"Democratic change is at a standstill," he told the crowd in Spanish, accusing the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party of authoritarian tactics.

About 30 students gathered in the university's Chicano Studies Department to listen to and question Cardenas, the candidate of the center-left Democratic Revolution Party, who is running a distant third in most polls.

"He seems more like someone who will do things for the people--he's not just talk," said Luz Berrios, 20, a junior from Sun Valley.

Berrios, a Mexican citizen, is barred from casting an absentee ballot in the July 2 election, because she lives outside the country--a law decried by Cardenas.

"U.S. citizens can vote anywhere. This doesn't happen with Mexicans," he said.

Still, Berrios said she wants to influence her relatives to vote for Cardenas.

"The government is so corrupt--it gets me so mad," Berrios said.

Mexican emigres have emerged as a valued component of the campaign, as candidates court them for their perceived influence.

Expatriates send about $6 billion a year to relatives--the country's third-highest source of revenue after petroleum and tourism.

Jose Luis Torres, a 22-year-old senior, asked Cardenas how he plans to resolve the conflict in Chiapas between guerrilla and government forces.

Cardenas said he would make sure that peace accords signed by the government in 1996 are enforced, adding that the government must also pass a law guaranteeing the rights of indigenous peoples.

"[Chiapas] represents how people in Mexico feel," Torres said. "They're fed up with all the social problems."

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