President Fox under fire for plans to accept pension

MEXICO CITY – President Vicente Fox came under fire Tuesday for announcing that he would accept a lifelong pension from the government, a privilege previously enjoyed by Mexico’s leaders during seven decades of one-party rule.

Former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a left-leaning presidential candidate who has led most public opinion polls prior to the July 2 election, insisted Tuesday that the pensions are excessively high – a feature of the corrupt governments he says ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century. The exact amount of the pension is not released publicly.

“The president is not lacking for anything,” Lopez Obrador said on a morning television show he finances to support his electoral campaign.

Roberto Madrazo, the presidential candidate for the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years until Fox’s victory, was quoted by the governmental news agency Notimex as saying that “there should be no (presidential) pensions.”

The criticism follows comments by Fox late Monday that he deserves a pension when he steps down in November because he hasn’t stolen from government coffers.

“Yes I need my pension because I haven’t robbed,” Fox told Radio Formula. “Going out and looking for work now is difficult. Not because there is no work, but because I’m 64.”

Fox’s predecessor from the PRI, Ernesto Zedillo, who ruled from 1994 to 2000, turned down the pension and went on to teach at Yale University in Connecticut. He was 49 when he left office.

Three other former presidents each receive a government pension of about US$180,000 (euro150,000) a year, according to the Reforma newspaper.

Officials at the presidency said they could not immediately confirm if this figure was correct