Opposition Parties Seek Political Trial against Ex-Finance Secretary Ortiz for Role in Setting Up Bank-Rescue Fund

Article excerpt

The two major opposition parties are calling for the removal of Guillermo Ortiz Martinez as chief governor of the Banco de Mexico (central bank).

Members of the center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD) and the conservative Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) in the Chamber of Deputies introduced separate initiatives in late October calling for Ortiz's removal. The PRD and the PAN say Ortiz violated Article 122 of the Mexican Constitution when he put together the controversial bank- rescue fund (Fondo Bancario de Proteccion al Ahorro, FOBAPROA)

without consulting the legislature. At that time, Ortiz was finance secretary.

"This is not a personal attack on Ortiz," said PAN Deputy Santiago Creel Miranda, chair of the subcommittee on constitutional matters. "But he was the one in charge at the time. Until now accountability has always been a theory in Mexico. For the first time we want someone to be held responsible for violating the Constitution."

Although the PAN and the PRD presented separate initiatives to bring Ortiz to trial, they later combined the proposals into one plan. In any case, the calls for a political trial of Ortiz are largely symbolic because they almost certainly will be blocked in the Senate, which is controlled by the governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI).

While the PAN initiative placed the blame primarily on Ortiz, the PRD measure also called for a political trial of former Banco de Mexico chief governor Miguel Mancera Aguayo and Finance Secretary Jose Angel Gurria Trevino.

The PRI delegation in the Chamber of Deputies said the two opposition parties do not have a sufficiently solid basis to take action against Ortiz. "The request for a political trial against Ortiz is motivated by electoral considerations," said PRI Deputy Fidel Herrera Beltran.

Similarly, President Ernesto Zedillo's administration contends the bailout was fully legal because of a statute that allows the executive branch to incur certain kinds of government debt without first obtaining legislative consent.

Gurria and Ortiz, responding to PRD and PAN charges, told reporters that the creation of FOBAPROA did not violate any laws. …