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The human rights group Americas Watch yesterday criticized Mexico for allowing continued rights violations by government authorities one year after its president vowed to fight the problem.The group said in a report that "despite a surge in human rights activity in Mexico in the past year ... the human rights situation does not seem to have improved. The volume and severity of reported abuses remain unchanged," the group said in its report, titled "Unceasing abuses: Human rights in Mexico one year after the introduction of reforms." "The administration of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari has failed to stop the routine use of torture by police, and has not reversed Mexico's long-standing policy of impunity for those who commit human rights abuses," the group said. The group also criticized President Bush for not letting Mexico's alleged human rights abuses deter him from seeking a free-trade agreement with his southern neighbor or from recommending Congress approve $26 million to help Mexico fight drugs in the US fiscal 1992 budget. Mexican Federal Attorney General Ignacio Morales Lechuga, at a news briefing Friday in Washington, called the report "imprecise" and said human rights is an internal issue. Mr. Lechuga also questioned the timing of the report's release, coming one day before top US and Mexican officials were scheduled to hold their annual bilateral meeting in Mexico City. Juan Mendez, the executive director of Americas Watch, told United Press International he considered the report justified. "I think we are fair," Mr. Mendez said. "We are recognizing that the [Mexican] government has made some attempts, but we feel that [they] have been insufficient."

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