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Profile : Mexico's No. 2 Man Stirs Ire of Enemies : Jose Cordoba Montoya is the president's closest adviser. Critics say the foreign-born policy-maker is too close.

June 09, 1992|MARJORIE MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cordoba married a Mexican woman, Sofia Urrutia Lazo, before becoming a citizen in 1985. He is generally credited with being a cultured man of quick intelligence whose tastes run from Spanish Flamenco music to Cuban cigars and fine wines--a supply of which he keeps at his favorite French restaurant.

His political ambitions in Mexico are necessarily tempered by the fact that his foreign origin prevents him from becoming president, according to the constitution. And yet, some observers view his potential influence on the presidential succession as a further "national security risk."

In Mexico, the outgoing president effectively names his successor by picking the ruling party's presidential candidate. The PRI, as the official party is called, has claimed every presidential election for the last 60 years.

For Cordoba to perpetuate his political influence in Mexico, says El Financiero columnist Raymundo Riva Palacio, "he needs a president to whom he is totally linked. Therefore, he looks at the presidential succession not with national interest but with personal interest."

Others believe, however, that Cordoba's future beyond Salinas rests with the international financial community.

"That is his long-term constituency," said the former presidential aide. "What he needs is the economic success of Mexico in the terms that he has defined--stabilization of prices, sustained growth, economic liberalism. He wants the Mexican miracle in his portfolio."

As for his own plans, Cordoba will say only that he wants "to finish well" in the last half of the Salinas administration.

Biography

Name: Jose Cordoba Montoya

Position: Personal adviser to President Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico.

Age: 42

Personal: Born in France to Spanish parents. Studied at the Ecole Polytechnique de Paris and the Sorbonne and at Stanford. Married a Mexican woman and became a naturalized citizen in 1985. Likes Flamenco music, Cuban cigars and fine wines.

Quote: "We live in an era of great world transformations. The internationalization of the world economy is generalized, and countries that do not manage to integrate into the currents of change will distance themselves more and more from development and postpone the well-being of their people."

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