Mexican President Felipe Calderón signed into law a measure to extend anti-discrimination protections to people with disabilities.

In a ceremony at the official residence of Los Pinos, Calderón said that for the first time "the ban on treating the disabled in a discriminatory way has been raised to the status of law."

The state will no longer adopt a "paternalistic" attitude toward the disabled, the president said.

The law aims to acknowledge human dignity, "eradicate prejudice and lack of understanding" and provide equal opportunities for this sector.

The measure is being channeled through the National Council for the Development and Inclusion of Disabled Persons, a federal organization.

Calderón stressed the effort made both by lawmakers and experts, relatives of disabled people and the handicapped themselves, to structure a law that compares with "the most advanced in the world in this field."

One of the negative points with respect to the disabled came, however, not long ago in the Senate, whose new quarters are equipped with cutting-edge technology and exquisitely decorated offices but fail to include access for the disabled.

The Calderón government made a commitment that, by the end of its administration in December 2012, "at least 90 percent of all installations of the federal government" in the country will be "fully accessible" to the handicapped.

The First National Survey on Discrimination in Mexico, which was taken in 2005, found that 60 percent of the disabled feel rejected and close to 90 percent believe they have far less chance of finding a job.

Close to 1.7 million of the close to 113 million inhabitants of Mexico are disabled, according to official data.

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