For Immediate Release
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Mexico City, Mexico)
May 6, 1997
PRESS BRIEFING BY
PRESS SECRETARY MIKE
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER,
DIRECTOR OF U.S. IMMIGRATION AND
NATURALIZATION SERVICES DORIS MEISSNER
AND SPECIAL ENVOY TO LATIN AMERICA MACK MCLARTY
J.W. Marriott Hotel
Mexico City, Mexico
3:10 P.M. (L)
MR. MCCURRY: I want to tell you a little bit about what
going to do. I've asked Sandy Berger, the President's National Security
Advisor, to start by giving you an overview, telling you a little bit
about the very successful bilateral meeting that President Clinton had
with President Zedillo, in which they just reported on to you.
I'm then going to ask General McCaffrey to talk a little
about the alliance document, which I believe we've distributed and you've
seen -- go through some of the aspects of that. Doris Meissner, who is
Director of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, will then
about the migration declaration and the points specifically on that.
are the two significant documents that you've obviously witnessed the two
Presidents sign today, and I thought it was good for the two of them to
you a little more specificity on those very important declarations.
And then Mack McLarty, who is the President's Special
for Latin America, can talk to you a little bit about the economic
the relationship because that really tees up the President's speech
His speech tomorrow I expect to focus a lot on what NAFTA has meant on
sides of the border, and Mack can speak to that point and to some of the
economic aspects of the dialogue today.
Sandy and all of you, thank you very much.
MR. BERGER: Thank you, Mike. What we have been
witnessing over the last day and what the Cabinet people who have
been here for the last two-plus days and that have engaged in
really is the challenge of building a partnership out of diverse
histories and cultures between two countries with common
interests and common problems.
What we've seen over the last two days and I think
what was on display today in the reports of the Binational
Commission is the extraordinary sweep of this relationship. It
truly is perhaps the most complex, the most diverse relationship
that exists between any two countries in the world, with issues
that directly affect the lives of our two people.
The 11 agreements that were signed yesterday and the
two very important agreements that were signed today really, I
believe, launch a new era of bilateral cooperation -- what
Foreign Minister Gurria, I thought, interestingly, said, from a
period of aloofness to a period of mutual commitment.
Now, I want General McCaffrey and Commissioner
Meissner to talk in more detail about these two agreements that
the Presidents signed today, but let me just review very quickly
some of the other areas that were agreed to between the two
governments over the last two and a half days. The border
issues, Doris Meissner will talk about.
On trade issues, Florida and Arizona citrus will
have access to the Mexican market; wheat and pork from some areas
of Mexico will have greater access to the U.S. market. Mexico
will improve inspection of livestock and crops to the United
States, which has been a vexing trade issue between us. And we
will together lead a consortium that will develop Mexico's first
private power project.
On the environmental front -- and some of this was
referenced in the meeting, in the binational meeting -- the two
countries agreed to share operation and maintenance of two border
sewage treatment plants in the San Diego and Laredo areas. We
will commit $170 million in new grants to the North American
Development Bank -- that is an institution created in connection
with NAFTA -- for border water projects. We'll be working
together on some endangered species and sensitive areas of park
lands on the border. And we'll be engaged together in a study of
Mexican city pollution issues.
On the education front, you heard the President and
others reference the doubling of the Fulbright program so that
twice as many Mexican students will be coming to the United
States to study, particularly in the science and technology
areas. And there were a series of public health issues in which
we will work together.
So that this is a relationship that probably has a
greater degree of richness and a greater degree of cooperation
than any that we have. This Binational Commission, which was
originally conceived by President Carter back in the late 1970s,
has really matured into perhaps the most elaborate mechanism of
bilateral cooperation in the world.
Now, clearly the two most significant things that
happened today were the two agreements that the Presidents
signed, the Joint Alliance Against Drugs and the Declaration on
Migration. And let me ask first General McCaffrey to talk to you
about the Alliance Against Drugs.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: A couple of quick comments.
There has been a lot of interaction in the last two days.
Yesterday, we had the high-level contact group -- Secretary
Albright and Gurria, Attorney Generals Madrazo and Reno, and
other senior officials -- Defense, Treasury, et cetera -- Ray
Kelly from the Department of Treasury and Jim Johnson. And we
worked a couple of hours to try and walk through very
deliberately each aspect of the ongoing high-level contact group
cooperation. A pretty good outcome.
And one of my purposes was to review along with
Attorney General Madrazo this Joint Threat Assessment which we
intended to present to the two Presidents. This is a real
document. It's 97 pages. It has not scrubbed out of it the
problems -- they're in there. Whether it's demand, supply,
money-laundering, technical discussion of the numbers we're
talking about, we put it in the Binational Threat Assessment.
We're very proud of this as a practical guide to moving ahead.
The second thing we wanted to do was review where we
were in the Declaration of the Mexican-U.S. Alliance Against
Drugs. This was important to us. We wanted the two Presidents
to give instructions to the high-level contact group based on a
series of principles that got to the heart and soul of the matter
-- how we're going to raise this level of cooperation up and make
it an ongoing cooperation. And we think we've got it.
Now, the most important thing, it seems to me the
document says is, you will complete by the end of the year a
joint strategy. And it took us a good bit of time to get a Joint
Threat Assessment, and now we're going to try and end up with a
real document that will guide Treasury, Defense, Justice, Health
and Human Services and the rest of us in our attempt to turn this
into some useful cooperation for the next decade.
So that's what we've done. We think it was a
first-rate piece of work and now we've got to deliver on it.
Now, I do get asked -- these are two pieces of paper, these are
two documents; is there anything real there. I would suggest
there's a lot real there. There is actual extradition. There's
actually -- the Mexicans are trying to build a new drug police
and we're going to support their efforts. We're giving them
equipment -- 73-some-odd helicopters and two years of spare
parts, and training the aviators. We're sharing evidence and
We are trying to have coincidential operations to make sure that
international smugglers face the consequences. We're trying to
build binational task forces on the border.
I would suggest to you there's a good bit there, and
I would be glad to respond to your questions. Thank you.
MS. MEISSNER: The Clinton administration has made a
major effort in the last four years to improve the effectiveness
of our ability to enforce our immigration laws. Part of that
effort has been -- a major part of that effort has been directed,
obviously, at the southwest border, where we have really looked
for establishing what we call borders that work, and those are
borders that prevent illegal flows and facilitate the legal flows
of both goods and people.
Part of our work on the southwest border has been to
work much more directly with Mexico and find areas of common
ground where we can work cooperatively, where we can coordinate,
where we can really deal with managing the issue of a shared
border. What this agreement that was signed today -- or this
declaration signed today by the two Presidents does is elevate to
the presidential level a joint commitment by both of our
countries to continue to build on that foundation that we have I
think very successfully established in the working-level
arrangements that we have developed over the last several years
between Mexico and the United States.
What we're looking for on the southwest border is
safe, legal, orderly movements of goods and of people, and,
obviously, the overall environment and vitality that supports
that kind of a setting. This agreement establishes several basic
principles that are very important to both of our nations. The
first is our respective right and sovereign responsibilities to
have and enforce our immigration laws the way we see it suiting
our national interests in the best ways.
The second is to make consular access and consular
resources, information available to nationals of either country
who are within the boundaries of the other country; and thirdly,
to look forward and think much more aggressively in the future
and into the next century about what the border community itself
means and how development and law enforcement can work together
cooperatively in order to create a border environment that is
appropriate for a NAFTA relationship and for two countries that
There are a variety of specific things that we want
to press forward on. There are many things that we have already
established a record of success, but they include a very
concerted effort to discourage criminal behavior and criminal
activity along the border and, in the process, protect the
rights, the safety, and the human rights of migrants who are
there. They include safe repatriation of people back to Mexico
when they're unable to cross the border are not authorized to
cross the border. They focus heavily on reducing violence and on
law enforcement coordination and cooperation. They support
strengthening the laws in each country so that we can penalize
criminal behavior in ways that discourage it more effectively.
And they go to issues of joint planning where
infrastructure is concerned, so that we can begin to have a much
more developed border in terms of roads, crossing, bridges, et
cetera, but a border that is developed in a way that helps to
regulate flows, as I say, so that they are safe, legal, and
MR. MCLARTY: The issues that Sandy outlined and
that General McCaffrey and Commissioner Meissner spoke to, and
that President Clinton and President Zedillo spoke to today are
issues that really come home to most Americans. As Secretary
Albright put it, these are bread-and-butter issues. Whether
they're the complicated issues of immigration, which Doris has
spoken to in making our borders work for us and unite us as
opposed to divide us, or whether it's facing the very dark and
evil force of narcotics and narcotics trafficking by forging a
much more intense, a more focused relationship and a broad
alliance that General McCaffrey spoke of, it is crucial that we
work very closely with our neighbor to the south and throughout
this hemisphere. And of course, President Zedillo spoke on
several occasions, this being the first stop on three trips
President Clinton will take to the hemisphere in the next 12
Tomorrow, President Clinton will speak primarily,
but not exclusively on economic issues at his speech at the
National Auditorium. I think he will certainly revisit the rich
heritage and cultural links that we have with Mexico. He will
certainly talk about the importance of hemisphere in terms of
trade. President Zedillo noted today the moving forward with the
free trade area by the year 2005. President CLinton will make
the points that our trade is at an all-time high with Mexico,
approaching $150 billion of two-way trade. Our exports are at an
all-time high, and certainly the exports from Mexico have been --
to the United States -- have been at the very center of their
I would remind you that when Mexico faced their debt
crisis in the early '80s it took them seven years to return to
conventional financing. This time, with sound fiscal and
monetary policies, but also with the NAFTA in place, it took them
seven months to return to conventional financing. And, of
course, they paid their loan off to the United States years ahead
About 700,000 Americans get a paycheck weekly based
on trade with Mexico, and that is growing. And because of the
NAFTA and locking in the reforms, unlike in the '80s where we
actually lost market share, we have actually gained market share,
versus our competitors because of lowering of tariffs and the
locking in of reforms.
The President noted today that both he and President
Zedillo had asked their respective ministers to review both labor
and particularly environmental issues along the border. Of
course, the border is a much more active place, as Commissioner
Meissner spoke, in terms of not only people crossing the border
-- actually, more than from Canada -- but also of course, goods.
The President I think will also revisit a number of
issues tomorrow in his speech, as Sandy noted. He will, I think,
underscore the importance of working very closely together on a
number of issues, including narcotics, narcotics trafficking and
immigration, and how that tears at the very fabric of our
society, and is related directly to the economies of both of our
I think, finally, the President will certainly
underscore one of the basic themes that he has made repeatedly in
this visit, and that is this is a relationship with a neighbor, a
partner -- our third largest trading partner -- and a friend.
And he will underscore a continuing deepening of that partnership
on common interests and shared values and a partnership based on
mutual respect and mutual trust.
Q General McCaffrey, you said this was a real
document containing real solutions, but it appears to be
completely devoid of any reference to high-level official
corruption in Mexico. These are problems that the State
Department has identified as a major factor in drug trafficking.
I wonder, can you actually develop a plan to solve these problems
if you don't identify those challenges in the report?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Yes. There aren't any real
solutions in here, this is an identification of the Joint Threat
Assessment. Now, I would also -- there's no question that
corruption and violence are the two tools that are threatening
democracy out of -- who knows what the number is -- between $6
billion and $30 billion of narco money. There are thousands of
people carrying weapons involved in crime in both nations.
The number doesn't stick in my own mind and I don't
mean to imply symmetry, but as I remember the number, the FBI
prosecuted some 600 cases of official corruption in the United
States last year, and a substantial amount of that was related to
drugs. So we understand without any question -- we've watched
the Mexican President and Attorney General take apart the
existing drug police and they're going to try and stand it up.
We've watched them pick up on this thug, Gutierrez Robollo
shortly after they put him in office, and in 62 days, they busted
him. So I don't think there is any question that both of these
nations are scared and determined to confront violence and
Now, you might want to look at Paragraph 3.9; Sandy
just pointed out this topic is addressed in there. But I think
your point is a good one; drug corruption is clearly a part of
Q Could you shed any more light on the agreement
on the DEA agents carrying sidearms?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Yes. You know, I think there's
been -- to be honest, I think the argument was misplaced. The
problem is to assure both nations that their own laws will be
enforced on their sovereign territory by their own police,
prosecutors, judges and armed forces. That's the challenge, and
that's part of the region that this alliance document was so
important. We have committed to just that principle.
Now, in addition, the alliance document notes that
both these nations are fundamentally committed to a principle of
protecting the law enforcement women and men on both sides of the
border. And it is broader than the DEA. We're talking about
both Mexican and U.S. law enforcement agencies -- ATF, Treasury,
Customs, FBI, DEA, federal marshals, et cetera.
I might remind you that the climate, based on this
drug crime, is ferociously dangerous. We had over 1,000 law
officers shot last year, killed or wounded. They had a couple of
hundred killed. The armed forces has had casualties. So there
is no question both sides have agreed the protection packages are
what we're going to do. And I'm not going to spell out for you,
in case there is any question, how we're going to go about doing
Q General McCaffrey, does DEA accept that,
though? They were the ones who were concerned -- the agents.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: There is no question that DEA,
FBI, marshals, every other federal law enforcement agency is
fundamentally committed to the same principle. We will protect
the men and women of law enforcement on both sides of the border.
That's a commitment by both Presidents in this alliance document.
Q American DEA are satisfied that they will be
protected on the Mexican side of the border and are not asking to
carry weapons anymore?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: I didn't say that. What I said
was, we are committed to the principle that the law enforcement
-- I'm repeating myself, I recognize, but it's important for you
to get this. You know, as a guy has been wounded in combat three
times, clearly we are committed -- and who has watched the
Mexicans suffer so much from this -- we are committed to
protecting law enforcement officials from both nations, and we
will do that.
Q Mr. McCaffrey, in the same question, two-part
question. Is it correct that DEA agents will be able to carry
weapons only for their own protection? I know you don't want to
specify, but at least confirm that part.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: It is very important that you
get the point that the Mexican army, which destroyed more illegal
drugs last year than any other force on the face of the Earth,
lost bunches of people -- killed, wounded, or in accidents.
Mexican police officers had hundreds killed or wounded. And on
our side of the border, 50 percent of the arrests in the United
States test positive for drugs, and we had hundreds of our law
enforcement killed and wounded. We will commit ourselves to the
principle of the protection of these law enforcement officials.
Q The other part, Mr. McCaffrey, is it correct
that Mexico has finally accepted hot pursuit?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Absolutely not. What I said
was, one of the most important principles of the alliance is that
the laws of Mexico and the United States, on their sovereign
territory, will be enforced by the police, judges, prosecutors,
and armed forces of their own country. I want to say that pretty
unequivocally. We are sharing evidence, sharing extradition,
sharing intelligence, sharing training.
Q How do you expect to carry out your commitment
to protect DEA agents in Mexico and of both countries?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: I think -- to be honest, I've
tried to be about as forthcoming and explicit. Normally, people
do not have a hard time understanding me. That was the answer.
Q Are both countries seeing each other eye to eye
on the drug issue, General?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: We've got pretty explicit
cooperation and dialogue on a whole series of points of contact.
I mean, the obvious ones -- the judicial system, sharing of
evidence, the binational task forces, cooperation in law
enforcement, cooperation in money laundering -- enormously
important. We now have computer software training programs, and
the Mexicans have a new law and regulations published and they're
moving ahead on money laundering. We're cooperating on gun
smuggling. We literally have a major training effort going on to
ensure that we can write software programs in Spanish so that
Mexican law enforcement can trace weapons that show up south of
the border, but came out of the United States. So at almost
every point of contact there are a series of cooperative efforts
Q General, will you set specific, quantifiable
measures of success in these negotiations that will take place at
the Cabinet level over the next few months?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: I think, in general, both sides
are committed to assessing targets and outcomes and deliberately
moving forward and achieving new realities.
Q There will be a measurable way to judge success
MR. BERGER: There will be accountability because
they will have to report to the two Presidents.
Let me put one little other additional piece of
context in this. The idea of an Alliance Against Drugs really
grows out of the discussions that took place with the President
around the time of the drug certification issue, in which it
became increasingly clear that we -- while we were cooperating at
an unprecedented level -- that we really had to raise that level
of cooperation to an entirely different level.
And the word "alliance," I think, is a very
descriptive one here. Just as we have in the past formed
security alliances to deal with common military challenges, here
we are forming a drug alliance to deal with a common
transnational challenge. And I think what is reflected and
represented in this document is three things: number one, a
commitment at the highest levels of these two governments to a
new level of cooperation; number two, a very specific set of 16
strategic objectives; and number three, a very specific mandate
to General McCaffrey and his counterparts to come back quickly
with a joint strategy that will fight this war together, with
respect for each other, but together. And I think that is -- we
shouldn't get lost in the forest for the trees here.
MR. MCCURRY: General McCaffrey's got a group
waiting for him and I'd like for him -- do you want to make one
point, and if someone's got an absolutely pressing question for
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, let me, if I may, because
I think the parting comment is an important one. I've got to go
deal with 40-some-odd physicians, scholars, sociologists to try
and continue the dialogue between Health and Human Services and
Mexican health officials that this drug problem is more than law
enforcement defense evidence. It's also a notion of how do we
get at reduction of demand and that no society is invulnerable to
that. So I would urge you to take that into account, to watch
that piece of it also as we try and develop it.
Q General, what is your current assessment of the
newly reconstituted antidrug force and its leader?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: It's a work in process. They're
committed to building honest law enforcement in the drug arena.
They've developed the tools to vet their own people and they're
going about it with a vengeance. And we're going to support them
in every way we can.
I'm going to ask for your permission -- I'm going to
have to step off.
Q Mr. McLarty, you said that the President was
going to be giving a speech to the Mexican people tomorrow that
will talk about NAFTA. Considering the fact that 60 percent of
the American people feel that NAFTA has been bad for the U.S.
economy, wouldn't it be more appropriate for him to address the
American people tomorrow?
MR. MCLARTY: I think he'll be addressing both
people tomorrow. I don't think there's any question about that.
That's part of this partnership and part of the effort of our
first stop on three trips to the hemisphere.
But I think part of that is underscoring the jobs
that have been created, the stability that the NAFTA has provided
to Mexico, and the fact that exports in many ways have powered
some of the very positive economic news that all of us have seen
in recent months. And about 40 percent of our exports are within
this region. A little over 30 percent are with our two NAFTA
partners. And, of course, as all of you know, those jobs
have a tendency to be much higher paying, 13 to 16 percent, and
much more stable.
I think the President, as well as President Zedillo,
both spoke today of education. The President, of course, has
spoken repeatedly about lifelong learning, how we can deal with
in a positive way the changes that are taking place. This is a
tremendous opportunity, and I think part of what will be the
theme of tomorrow in an ongoing way is economic integration is
taking place. That's the reality of the global economy. The
question is, are we going to shape and lead that process.
Q Mr. Berger, a couple of days ago President
Zedillo said there would be no further discussion on the sidearm
issue. Are you guys saying today that there has been further
discussions, or that that issue has been put aside and you're
discussing other ways to protect U.S. --
MR. BERGER: I really do think Barry has addressed
this about as much as we can. There are some issues, the
solution of which is inversely proportional to how much you talk
about them. (Laughter.)
Q Also tomorrow, will the President also be
addressing the concern that some Mexicans have that America can
be arrogant and trying to impose its will or impugn the
sovereignty of Mexico?
MR. MCLARTY: Ron, I believe in many ways the
President discussed that today in the type of partnership that he
believes is fundamentally of critical importance to our future.
I think he spoke of that today in terms of that partnership based
on the respect for each other, mutual trust, the sovereignty of
each nation, and certainly the rich cultural and historical
links. I think he will repeat that tomorrow, but in a much more
positive way than perhaps your question suggests.
Q Following up on that one, what about
certification process? Is there a possibility of changing it so
that it becomes more respectable?
MR. BERGER: There are a number of initiatives in
our Congress to look at the certification process. One, in fact,
has recently passed through the House International Relations
Committee by a bipartisan vote. I think the President has said
in the past that he is prepared to work with the Congress on ways
to improve the process, but this obviously has to be something
that we do very much in consulation with both Republicans and
Democrats in the Congress.
Q Aside from the statistics and figures about the
economic recovery, there is very little evidence in Mexico of a
basic level of economic recovery that increases the salaries of
workers. You're talking about the fact that Mexico paid back the
money ahead of time that they borrowed that money from other
countries, talking about the export sector. But that's only one
sector; other sectors have not recovered. What's the other
reason for optimism?
MR. BERGER: Well, first of all, I think President
Zedillo's answer to that question today I thought was very good,
and that is, there is a sharp concern about the inequities that
exist, but growth provides the wherewithall and the resources in
which to more aggressively deal with those inequities, and the
fact that Mexico has come out of this economic crisis much more
rapidly than it did the crisis in the '80s in no small measure is
a result of the fact that it has had an open and more competitive
Now, clearly, the burdens and benefits within
society that flow from these kinds of changes are not shared
equally, and it's incumbent upon government and it's incumbent
upon all of us to look at ways in which we can make sure that
those edges are smoothed out through giving people greater tools,
through education, through empowering people to lift up their own
Q Mr. Berger, how close are you all to
identifying the arms dealers in southern California and southern
Texas that are providing arms to the drug-trafficking groups in
Mexico, the same arms that are used to kill policemen and the
same arms that you're concerned the DEA needs more protection
MR. BERGER: Well, this is a catch-22 answer,
because, unfortunately, Barry is not here, who would be in a
position to answer that question, and my jurisdiction stops at
the water's edge.
Q Mr. Berger, why did it take so long for Mexico
and the United States to agree on the obvious, that there is a
drug problem in the United States, that the drugs come from
Mexico, that there aided by corruption, that U.S. policies have
had varying degrees of success? And now that it took so long to
come up with this document, why is it going to take another nine
months for you all to agree on how you should combat it jointly?
MR. BERGER: I think that's the wrong way to look at
it -- it may come as a surprise to you. (Laughter.) This is not
done from a standstill beginning here. I mean, we have been
engaged with the Mexicans over the past several years in a
growing cooperation. And I believe that General McCaffrey
outlined a number of elements of that cooperation before he left.
That cooperation enabled the President to make the certification
that he did, and to say that there is an unprecedented level of
But the fact of the matter is that, to some degree,
as other avenues of drug trafficking have been shut down, Mexico
has become a greater corridor and the problem here has become
more intense. And, therefore, we have to look at this problem
with a larger aperture than before and deal with it as a serious
security threat to this country and to our country, and deal with
it as partners in an alliance against a common enemy.
So I think what you've seen today is not the
discovery of the drug problem -- I mean, people have been
fighting this war intensely for many, many years and this
cooperation has intensified just since the high-level contact
group with General McCaffrey was established -- but what you've
seen here is a commitment by the leaders to take this another
Q So if you knew about the problem, why didn't
you just move on to the solutions and the strategies --
MR. BERGER: Well, we're not standing still. We're
not standing still. Again, General McCaffrey talked about what
we're doing together. There is military-to-military cooperation.
There is cooperation in helping the Mexicans technically with the
new police they're creating. There are border task forces. All
those things go forward. But what we're trying to do in this
process is to come up with a clear joint strategy for dealing
with the bipartisan.
Q Mine is a question on immigration for
Commissioner Meissner. Some of what was said today would seem to
indicate that the administration may be going to Congress to ask
Congress to roll back some of the provisions on deportation that
were enacted or part of the new law, the '96 law?
COMMISSIONER MEISSNER: Well, what was said is that
we're working with Congress on various -- on certain aspects of
the law. As the President said, a big step forward comes from
the budget agreement arrived at last week. That was one of the
President's commitments when he signed the bill, that there
should be greater -- that the provisions regarding legal
immigrants need to be readdressed, and that, hopefully, now will
be able to be enacted based on this consensus.
In addition to that, we have felt very strongly for
a long time that this section, which you're familiar with,
245(I), this is a section that allows people who are eligible for
visas to remain in the United States when they adjust their
status to pick up a visa. That has been eliminated as of
September 30th in the legislation. We oppose that and we will do
everything that we can to change that and make that be a
permanent feature. And then we're in discussions with the
committees on the deportation provisions and on suspension of
deportation, and we hope that we will get some relief there.
Q What are you asking for?
COMMISSIONER MEISSNER: There are a variety of
proposals that are under discussion, and I think if I would talk
anything further about it, I'd jeopardize what we might get. But
it's a major concern and we're working on it.
MR. MCCURRY: Thanks, everyone. Thanks to the
briefers. Let me tell you a little bit of the rest of the
evening. Mr. Johnson will be back here around 7:30 p.m. tonight,
for those of you who are not elsewhere, just to give you a very
quick readout on the President's meeting with some of the
political leadership -- political leaders of the parties
contending in the current election period and have been a part of
the growing and vibrant political dynamic here in Mexico. And I
think, with the exception of the toasts which are open later
tonight at the state dinner, that will be it for us tonight,
unless anyone's got any special needs.
Q Can you tell us about what the President's
going to announce about affirmative action later in the week and
what his intention is?
MR. MCCURRY: The President's intention -- or,
actually, the administration sent to the Federal Register today
for publication later this week a series of proposed regulations
that implement the review of federal affirmative action programs
in the procurement area that arise from the review ordered by the
President last year in light of the Adarand decision.
The President's longstanding view has been that
federal affirmative action efforts must be narrowly tailored to
meet the strict scrutiny tests established in Adarand, and that
one way to do that is to scour the federal government and look
for the proper use of these programs with respect to curbing
ongoing and persistent discrimination.
So much of that work has now been done. The Justice
Department has forwarded to the Register a proposed reg that will
actually implement some changes in federal affirmative action
programs that we believe will be necessary to defend those
programs in court under the constitutional criteria established
by Adarand. And the President is very comfortable that mending
and not ending is the way also to preserve and protect these
programs as they face new constitutional and, ultimately,
Q Mike, the President said he was looking forward
to switching to a cane next week. Does he have the same physical
therapy team with him here that he had in Helsinki, and where has
he done his physical therapyy?
MR. MCCURRY: A little bit different. One of the
docs from National Naval Medical Center out at Bethesda who
operated on him is here, Dr. Adkinson. Dr. Adkinson was -- Dr.
DeMaio was in Helsinki, so they switched. They had the two
surgeons that work on him switch. Dr. Adkinson got to come on
this trip Lieutenant Commander Paco, who is his physical
therapist is on the trip, too. He had some down time this
afternoon and was doing his regular physical therapy during that
The President has had a -- was out on the Truman
balcony the other night and developed a little bit of a back
spasm. A couple people of asked me, gee, he seems like he's
experiencing some discomfort. He is. It's in the lower back and
it's just a result of probably the use and strain on some muscles
that don't normally don't get used because of the different
regimen he's using for his therapy.
Q You said he was on the balcony --
MR. MCCURRY: He was out on the Truman balcony, he
sat and read a book for a while and just was lying crooked or
something like that.
Q Mike, is he taking anything for that?
MR. MCCURRY: I think a muscle relaxant. I didn't
get a full readout on the drugs, but he's taking a muscle
relaxant and also some non-narcotic analgesics.
Q Mike, apparently a number of the protesters who
were out protesting the President yesterday have been arrested,
including a couple of the leaders, the protest leaders. Are you
aware of that and --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of that and don't have
any reaction to that until we get any further information.
Q Could you check into it?
MR. MCCURRY: I can check into local -- see if we
have any reason to comment on any local law enforcement efforts.
Q Mike, what night was that of the back spasms?
You said the other night --
MR. MCCURRY: The other day, I think it was over the
Anything else for the day?
Q Thank you.
President Clinton's Tour of Mexico, Costa Rica,