- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico’s Roman Catholic Church launched an unusually harsh criticism of the former ruling party on Sunday, suggesting the group may be blocking anti-drug efforts.

An editorial posted on the Archdiocese of Mexico’s Web site did not mention the Institutional Revolutionary Party by its full name, but cited legislators describing the “‘revolutionary’ party as an obstacle to taking stronger measures to combat drug cartels.”

No other major party has “revolutionary” in its name.

The editorial also alludes to “a party rubbing its hands at returning to power.” The party, known as the PRI, held Mexico’s presidency without interruption for 71 years, before losing the 2000 elections. Most polls show it leading for July’s midterm elections.

The PRI did not immediately answer calls to party offices Sunday seeking comment.

The editorial suggested the PRI opposes reforms currently before Congress to enable the seizure of drug traffickers’ property.

“The question arises automatically, is it because of financial interests or base political concerns?” the unsigned piece read. “In either case, the answer is alarming.”

Earlier, PRI Sen. Fernando Castro told local news media that his party would approve some form of the law proposed by the administration of President Felipe Calderon but wants changes made to ensure that people facing seizures have a right to defend themselves.

“It will be modified to safeguard individual guarantees, ensure constitutionality and prevent law-abiding people from paying for others’ sins,” Castro said.

Restricted by law from becoming directly involved in party politics, the Catholic Church has long avoided any direct reference to political parties.

Calderon has suggested that past administrations committed a mistake by trying to “manage” organized crime rather than fight it.

Sunday’s editorial appeared to make that accusation more directly.

“These are the same ones who allowed this social cancer to grow and now, incomprehensibly and suspiciously, they refuse to take more drastic and efficient measures to oppose it,” the editorial said.

It also criticized some smaller parties for proposing to legalize drugs as a way to end cartel violence that has claimed more than 7,200 lives since January 2008.

“It is not possible to conclude that, given the dimension of the problem, we should declare defeat as a society and leave the way open to decadence,” the editorial stated.

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