- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 8, 2006

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) — The leftist favored to win Mexico’s presidential election in July accused President Vicente Fox yesterday of being too soft in opposing stepped-up U.S. efforts against illegal immigration.

A plan by Congress to build a fence on parts of the U.S.-Mexican border has upset many Mexicans. Anger was compounded late last month when a Border Patrol agent in the San Diego area fatally shot a Mexican would-be immigrant.

Mexico has demanded an investigation into the shooting, and Mr. Fox described the fence proposal as “shameful” — but Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a former mayor who leads in opinion polls for the election, said that was not enough.

He blamed mass emigration from Mexico on slow economic growth and the free-market policies of Mr. Fox and his predecessors.

“It’s infuriating to see how President Fox, because he is dedicated to maintaining economic policies that only benefit the elite, does not have the moral or political authority to confront the disgrace of a wall on the border or to protest the deaths of migrants,” he said.

Mr. Lopez Obrador, speaking to supporters after registering as a candidate at Mexico’s electoral institute, said 2 million Mexicans had emigrated during Mr. Fox’s five years in power.

The leftist, from the Party of the Democratic Revolution, tops most polls by 10 percentage points, but analysts say his lead might be cut as other candidates build up their campaigns.

He said he would not make waves with Mexico’s neighbors if he became president. “I want to point out now that we will carry out a measured foreign policy,” Mr. Lopez Obrador said.

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