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Is This The Next President Of Mexico?
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January 17, 2008, 03:56 PM
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Mexican president Felix Calderon just appointed his little-known 36-year-old chief-of-staff, Juan Camilo Mouri?±o Terrazo, "the quiet power behind the throne," to be Minister of the Interior, the traditional jumping off point for the Presidency, although now in Mexico there is a primary system, unlike in the good old days when the reigning president with his godlike (but term-limited) powers just picked whomever he felt like to be the next president.

In the U.S., Secretary of the Interior is a vaguely comic job, but in Mexico, like most Third World countries, it`s the Big One. Traditionally, Mexico isn`t as scary a country when it comes to disappearances and torture as some other Latin American countries ("Hey, at least we`re not Guatemala!" could be the Mexican national slogan), nor is its Interior Ministry as formidable as the old Soviet Ministry of the Interior, which had a 200,000-man private army for overawing the Red Army in case it didn`t feel like obeying Politburo orders. Still, it`s definitely the coolest job in the Mexican government besides being President (although being Mexico City`s police chief was a lot of fun in the 1970s for Arturo Durazo, a boyhood friend of President Lopez Portillo turned gangster`s chauffeur turned civil servant, who parlayed his $1,000 monthly salary into an estate with 1,200 servants).

Still, you might be wondering why, 489 years after Cortez arrived and began turning Spaniards and Indians into La Raza, this bit of presidential timber looks so Spanish? Well, he is Spanish. Mouri?±o was born in Spain to a Spanish father and a mother who was a Mexican citizen. His zillionaire father moved the family to Mexico when he was seven, but he remained a Spanish citizen until 18. Nobody seems to know whether the Mexican constitution says a man of his birth and background can or can`t be President. To paraphrase Johnny Tightlips on The Simpsons, "The Mexican constitution says a lot of stuff."