MEXICO CITY - More than 4,000 delegates to the 17th national assembly of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) shouted unanimous approval of a report that calls for the government not to sell off the nation's petrochemical plants. However, chances of the government turning its back on privatization plans for the petrochemical industry are slim. While under enormous pressure from rank-and-file PRI party members, the trade union federation and elected PRI members of the nation's congress, analysts point out that a more important counterpressure exists. In December, the government, led by President Ernesto Zedillo, signed an agreement with the International Monetary Fund that obliges the government to use the revenue from the sales of petrochemical plants to pay off its international obligations. In short, the government needs the cash.
The privatization initiated under the administration of the now-discredited former President Carlos Salinas has been on-again, off-again under Zedillo. An ammonia plant in Veracruz was put on the block. After a group of bids it was put on hold for what were described as legal difficulties.