YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The World

Senate Says No to Fox Trip

Mexico: PRI officials contend that the president needs to pay more attention to domestic issues.


MEXICO CITY — Mexico's interparty squabbling fell to a historic low Tuesday when the Senate denied President Vicente Fox permission to take a three-day trip to Canada and the United States to promote trade, investment and migrant rights.

It was the latest flare-up of political divisiveness that has frustrated Fox's ambitious slate of reforms. Fox wrested control of the presidency from the long-dominant ruling party in 2000, but his National Action Party, or PAN, lacks a majority in Congress.

Typically, such votes, which Mexican law reserves for the upper house, are a foregone conclusion. But a coalition of opposition parties led by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, voted 71 to 41 to deny permission, the first time such approval has been withheld.

The PRI's loss to Fox ended its 71-year grip on power in Mexico.

Opposition lawmakers have complained bitterly about Fox's frequent trips abroad--this was to have been his 16th--and his increasingly pro-United States stance. Denying that it was an effort to embarrass Fox, PRI officials said Tuesday that the vote was a way of sending a message to the president to pay more attention to domestic issues.

Fox, who said he will comply with the decision, told the nation in a television address Tuesday night that the vote was nothing more than "conservative parochial politics of the opposition led by the PRI." The reasons for the trip were "to promote investment flows and commercial exchange."

Fox had planned to leave Monday morning and make stops in Calgary, Vancouver, Seattle and San Francisco to address business, financial and high-technology executives.

He was to have had dinner with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on Tuesday in Seattle and to have accepted a $30-million gift from Gates' private foundation to build libraries in Mexico, a spokeswoman said.

In San Francisco, Fox was to have attended the inaugural ceremony for a new kind of identity card for Mexican migrants. Mayor Willie Brown was to have played host.

"All this will not be possible because of the lack of vision of the opposition, which is putting their interests above those of the nation so that Mexico does not progress," Fox told his television audience.

Los Angeles Times Articles