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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Salinas Goes to U.S. As Part of 'Exile Deal'

MEXICO CITY -- Former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari has apparently left Mexico for an extended stay in the United States, amid widespread reports that his departure was part of an "exile of convenience'' to defuse a confrontation between the Harvard-educated economic reformer and his hand-picked successor.

As President Ernesto Zedillo Sunday blamed the "imbalances'' of previous years for the economic crisis that forced his government to impose an emergency plan that will make every Mexican poorer overnight starting April 1, published reports and official sources confirmed that Salinas agreed to fade into an academic career in America to end Mexico's most bitter and public presidential tiff in six decades.

Zedillo did not mention his predecessor by name in his first appeal for popular support for harsh measures to defuse a crisis most Mexicans blame on Salinas. But numerous sources said the president's address came after the former president already had departed with his wife and three children for New York, en route to Boston.

In one report that a Mexican official described as "highly credible,'' the muckraking weekly Proceso reported Sunday that Salinas and Zedillo agreed during a face-to-face meeting at the official presidential residence of Los Pinos last Thursday night that the former president would engage in no political activity and would spend the duration of Zedillo's six-year term out of the country.

The reported agreement came after a public spat that began when Zedillo's government jailed Salinas' elder brother on charges of masterminding the murder of the ruling party's No. 2 official last year and ended with Salinas' on-again, off-again hunger strike -- a 44-hour drama that riveted the attention of the nation but lowered public opinion of Salinas still further. The usually reliable Mexico City daily La Jornada reported Sunday that the former president boarded a plane Saturday night with his ultimate destination as Boston, where Salinas earned two doctorate degrees from Harvard University.

Salinas could not be reached for comment Sunday, and a spokesman for Zedillo said he could not confirm or deny the report.

A source close to Salinas said he and his family appeared to have left the country for America.

In Washington, a State Department official maintained Sunday that the U.S. government did not know for sure whether Salinas is in the United States.

In his address to the nation, Zedillo conceded that his government had underestimated the gravity of Mexico's economic crisis at first.

However he said that without the bitter measures he applied last week, the nation's economy would have collapsed.

"If we did not arrest and reverse the uncontrolled deterioration of the most recent weeks, we would have risked suffering a financial collapse that would have paralyzed sources of employment and delivery of services,'' the president said.