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Mexico slams U.S. House vote

March 14, 1997

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Mexico will not follow any U.S. demands for drug-fighting reforms that it considers a violation of its sovereignty, President Ernesto Zedillo said Thursday.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted earlier in the day to make U.S. certification of Mexico as a drug-fighting ally contingent on changes in drug enforcement policy. Without certification, Mexico could be denied some U.S. aid.

``Definitively, we are not going to accept any condition that we feel might violate our sovereignty,″ Zedillo said in Japan, where he is on a state visit.

Zedillo accused U.S. legislators of ``seeking pretexts in order not to confront a problem which has become very serious in their own country ... they are looking for someone to put the blame on.″

His statements, however, appeared to leave open the possibility that some of those changes might be made. Members of Congress gave Mexico 90 days to make the changes.

Zedillo repeated earlier warnings that he would take ``energetic action″ if Mexico was decertified and suffered as a result, but refused to say what that action might be.

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said the House vote sends ``the wrong signal″ and benefits drug traffickers.

Mexican church, business and political leaders called the decision harmful both to political and business ties.

Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez said ``no one has named the U.S. to be a moral judge of other peoples.″

He said Mexico should not concede to the U.S. conditions, which include capturing more drug cartel leaders, allowing more U.S. anti-drug agents into Mexico and giving them wider powers.

Opposition-party Senator Heberto Castillo called those conditions ``a political intervention of one country in another’s affairs.″

Jose Vallez Luevanos, a business leader in the northern city of Monterrey, said the U.S. decision might eventually affect financial markets and the economies of both countries.

``This could create a climate of declining confidence among foreign investors,″ he said.

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