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Mouthy Mexican spouts off over Arnold's stance on invaders

Embassy Row

By James Morrison

Mexico's governor

The governor of Mexico's most economically powerful state insists he is not running for president, even though he is frequently mentioned as a possible candidate in the 2006 election and appears to enjoy the attention.

"I haven't said anything about being a presidential candidate," Arturo Montiel told editors and reporters at The Washington Times yesterday.

Mr. Montiel, governor of the state of Mexico for the past three years, still has two years to go in his term and says he is only concentrating on continuing to create jobs for his constituents.

Fortunately for him, the next presidential election comes in 2006, a year after he leaves office. He will need the time, if he is to improve his standing in the opinion polls and persuade voters to give his Institutional Revolutionary Party another chance in power. His party held the presidency for more than 70 years before losing to Vicente Fox of the National Action Party in the 2000 election.

In a field crowded with 18 potential candidates, Mr. Montiel runs fifth in the latest opinion poll, favored by 5 percent of voters. The leading candidate, Andres Lopez of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, draws 27 percent.

Mr. Montiel, who is in Washington to discuss plans for the expansion of Mexico City's airport, said his policies have created 180,000 jobs and the state of Mexico has an annual growth rate of 3.5 percent. Nationally the rate is 2.7 percent.

He said his country must attract more foreign investment and reform its economic policies if it hopes to create enough employment to decrease the number of Mexicans who immigrate both legally and illegally to the United States.

"The state of Mexico has an aggressive policy of looking for investment to create jobs so that people will not have to come to the United States," he said. "It is a dream to think we can stop immigration, but we can dampen it."

Mr. Montiel urged the United States to do more to help illegal immigrants here and criticized California Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger for his immigration policies. Mr. Schwarzenegger, for example, opposes a California law that grants driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, calling it a security risk.

"There is a large population of Mexicans [in California] that could be a problem for him," Mr. Montiel said, adding that he wants good relations with the incoming California governor.

However, he said, "if he keeps making statements that are against the interests of Mexicans, we will not support him."

Mr. Montiel said Mexican immigrants do not mind taking menial jobs that Americans will not accept.

"I prefer they come to work doing anything, even if Americans do not want to do the jobs," he said.

Mr. Montiel noted that, despite his disagreement with U.S. officials over illegal immigration, his government will continue to cooperate with the United States, especially in legal matters. On Tuesday, state authorities arrested two Mexicans wanted in South Carolina in connection with six homicides.

"We are not going to tolerate that kind of behavior in the state of Mexico," he said.

Aids in China

The U.S. ambassador to China warned of a possible AIDS crisis, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opened an AIDS treatment office in Beijing this week.

"Swift and meaningful action must be taken now, if China is to avert the tragedy of a ... crisis," Ambassador Clark Randt said, adding that the fight against the disease is "one of the highest foreign policy priorities of the United States government."

Chinese Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu welcomed the opening of the AIDS office. "Globalization of diseases and globalization of the threat to public health means globalization of the fight against it," he said.

The Chinese government admits to at least 1 million cases of the disease.

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