by Michael Tangeman in Mexico City MEXICO'S bishops have described their country's edinornic troubles — and the heavy foreign debt facing Latin America — as "very serious" and cautioned political leaders to unite in dealing with the crisis.
"With the 'house' burning from the economic crisis, we shouldn't be playing with gasoline," Fr Francisco Ramirez Meza, spokesman for the Mexican bishops' conference, said last week. "We have to look for a way to unite" in confronting the problem.
Fr Ramirez instanced the high rate of profits earned by foreign investors in Mexico and the fact that two-thirds of all Mexican imports come from the United States as evidence of the ,difficulties facing the nation in its quest for economic development. He said that high rates of unemployment and inflation are also problems over which Mexico's bishops have expressed concern in the past.
In addition, said Fr Ramirez, economic difficulties faced by Latin American nations are compounded by the foreign debt situation. He highlighted statements recently released by the Latin American bishops' conference reflecting the concern of Mexico's bishops regarding foreign indebtedness.
In March, the ordinary assembly of the Latin American bishops emphasised "that it should be fully realised that the payment by our countries of the burdensome debt, in accordance with ethical and moral principals, is unacceptable under conditions which imply hunger and excessive suffering for the people."
Mexico's current economic difficulties are due in part to a series of oil production cuts and decreases in the price of oil on the world market. The country lost $400 million in export earnings in the first three months of 1985. Nearly 70 per cent of all the export earnings come from Mexico's sales of petroleum.
In addition, a drop in nonpetroleum exports and a sharp increase in imports further aggravated the country's economic situation. In response, President Miguel de la Madrid announced a series of austerity measures in July which included cut-backs in government spending and devaluation of the peso.