Web Posted: 12/03/2005 12:00 AM CST Hernán Rozemberg Express-News Immigration Writer Fully aware she was walking a thin ethical line and would face a highly skeptical audience, a Mexican congresswoman made a solo foray into San Antonio on Friday to convince her countrymen to vote in next year's presidential election. It was a bold move criticized by other politicians as potentially violating Mexican electoral laws. Consuelo Camarena Gómez, a member of Mexico's House of Representatives from President Vicente Fox's National Action Party (PAN), said her country's get-out-the-vote campaign outside its borders has failed, prompting her to take action. Her Alamo City visit was part of a larger PAN effort. Representatives also were dispatched to New York, California and Illinois, all traditional destinations for Mexican immigrants. For the first time in Mexico's history, about 11 million citizens living overseas, most in the United States, will be able to vote in the 2006 election. Of those, more than 4 million already are registered. Yet fewer than 1,000 have sent for ballots and the deadline is Jan. 15, said Gómez, lamenting a likely colossal collapse of the new program. The opportunity was one she fought hard to create and can't stand to see wither, she said. Responsibility for informing Mexicans abroad of their chance to vote rests with the country's nonpartisan Federal Electoral Institute, or IFE. But the organization, which was pumped with extra federal funds for the voter registration campaign, has performed poorly, hence the dismal turnout thus far, Gómez said. It was a similar argument voiced by representatives of another leading political party, the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) when they visited South Texas in late October. But while they openly encouraged voters to side with the PRD, Gómez readily pointed out her effort solely was to try to salvage the vote-from-abroad program. She didn't deny or hide her partisan roots, but she said on this trip she left politics at home. She wasn't on official party business and paid for the trip out of her own pocket. "I'm here today representing Mexico, not any party," she said. "I left my PAN hat at home. I only brought my congressional representative's hat." As long as she didn't promote her party or its candidates, the effort had the IFE's blessing, a spokeswoman in Mexico City said. Not so approving was the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, the only one of the three major political groups yet to venture north of the border. Eduardo Andrade, spokesman for the PRI, was unaware of the other parties' recent trips. He said he would call for an investigation into possible violations. Whether or not the party's name or candidates were mentioned publicly, he said, it's still political campaigning. If the IFE actually allows it, Andrade continued, then the PRI will have no choice but to hit the northern trail as well. "We've been respectful of the law. But if this is allowed, then we'll also have to go. We can't be unfairly left behind," he said. I don't believe this!!!