Mexico will seek fresh foreign loans and plans "to continue pursuing negotiations to obtain better debt payment conditions," President Miguel de la Madrid said in his annual report to the nation today.
Just three days ago, Mexico and its creditors signed an agreement restructuring half of the country's $96 billion foreign debt. It was the largest such accord in commercial banking history.
Even so, the 14-year restructuring pact "is not a definitive solution to the foreign debt problem," de la Madrid said in his nationally televised, three-hour speech.
The state-of-the-union report is required by the constitution and is normally a largely retrospective review of what the administration considers its principal accomplishments.
The tone of today's address -- de la Madrid's third -- was unusually defensive. Lauding what he called Mexico's "energetic and efficient fight" against drug traffic, the president attacked "ignorant or badly intentioned people outside the country who try to portray the Mexican people as essentially and generally corrupt."
He blamed a recent decline in tourism partly on international press reports that he said projected "a false image of insecurity."
The president also responded to criticism of the government's recent performance as an election referee. Despite some "deficiencies and irregularities" in July's congressional and gubernatorial contests, "the great majority of the elections were peaceful and orderly," he said.
He chastized opponents who he said charge "vituperatively" that the election was marred by widespread fraud. Such public attacks erode "the prestige of the nation to which all of us belong," he said.
De la Madrid said the government's "tough and bitter" austerity measures have been prolonged because of unfavorable world economic trends and the burden of debt servicing. Third World countries and their creditors should search together "for new formulas that pragmatically and equitably" address the debt problem, he said.
The international financial community must realize that "in order to pay, it is necessary to grow," the president said as he disclosed Mexico's intention to borrow more money from commercial lenders "within prudent limits." But he emphasized the longstanding Mexican view that the debt issue cannot be resolved "through confrontation or the repudiation of sworn obligations."
The de la Madrid administration's recent demands for further financing have been viewed by bankers and diplomats as a hardening of its position.
A week ago, a ranking official of the Treasury Ministry predicted a need to borrow $2 billion to $3 billion in 1986.