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
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."