Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid, delivering his second annual state-of-the-nation address today, acknowledged that the process of gradual economic recovery has not yet been felt "to any appreciable degree in the daily lives of individuals and families."
Mexico's "inflation is still extremely high, growth is slow," and the government recognizes "the distress of housewives trying to stretch the family budget," he said.
De la Madrid took office in December 1982 and began grappling with an economy in crisis and the developing world's second-largest debt. He also faced unaccustomed political challenges from a newly combative opposition.
Alluding to these difficulties today, he said that the dangers presented by "runaway inflation and stagnation, and even aggravated social conflicts," have been overcome. He cited several positive economic indicators, including a drop in inflation from an annual rate of 117 percent in April 1983 to what he predicted would be 48 percent for 1984, and a doubling of foreign reserves from Aug. 31 of last year to $7.3 billion.
"The crisis has not defeated us," the president declared in the Chamber of Deputies before congressmen, state governors, business leaders and foreign dignitaries. He did not announce major new initiatives but concentrated in his nationally televised speech on what he views as his administration's achievements in domestic and foreign policy.
Referring to "wide-ranging and complex relations" with the United States, de la Madrid acknowledged "helpful cooperation" of the U.S. government in restructuring of foreign debt and in trade and border issues. But he also guardedly criticized U.S. policies in Central America, calling on "all the countries of the Americas" to contribute to the region's economic and social development, "provided that their assistance does not imply an intention to impose political conditions or exert hegemonic influences."
Strikingly absent was the rhetoric concerning developed nations' policy toward developing countries that characterized addresses during the previous government of Jose Lopez Portillo.
Under Mexico's leadership, trade negotiations through the Third World "Group of 77" nations have been marked by "a serious and conciliatory attitude, avoiding fruitless confrontations that lead nowhere," he said. He rejected debt repudiations as "rash maneuvers to destabilize the world economy that would do far more harm to weak countries than to wealthy ones."
De la madrid, who has adopted a solemn and paternal manner as part of an effort to distance himself from the ringing populist rhetoric of preceding governments, has made a "moral renewal" anticorruption campaign a centerpiece of his domestic policy. The drive so far has produced scores of property seizures and indictments of officials of Lopez Portillo's administration.
But while the president pledged today to continue "this struggle," emphasizing especially his intention to reform the "discredited" police force, he acknowledged that the anticorruption drive has been hampered by "long-standing inertia" and its perception by some "as a fad that occurs at the outset of every administration."