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Fox Fills More Cabinet Posts, Names Businessman as Labor Secretary

November 25, 2000|From Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — President-elect Vicente Fox on Friday picked a businessman to head Mexico's labor secretariat and named special representatives for Indians and Mexicans living abroad, doling out some of the most sensitive jobs in his Cabinet days before his inauguration.

Fox created special offices for the first time to deal with discrimination and minorities. But the appointments also revealed his inability to draw other parties into his Cabinet, dominated by conservative northerners and business executives.

Fox, who will take office Friday, was making his second round of appointments. He named members of his economic team Wednesday and will name the justice, defense and interior secretaries Monday.

Friday's announcement of the "social justice" area of his Cabinet highlighted his pledge to give Mexicans equal opportunities and overcome poverty through their own efforts. That idea is in sharp contrast to the paternalistic attitude of Mexico's outgoing ruling party, which has held the presidency for 71 years.

The man Fox named as his top coordinator for social justice--Jose Sarukhan, the former rector of the National Autonomous University of Mexico--echoed Fox's theme, calling for "government that serves as a facilitator more than a distributor of paternalism."

Fox had promised a multiparty Cabinet, but the only major appointee from another party was the former presidential candidate of the Social Democracy Party, Gilberto Rincon Gallardo, who is to head the special office on discrimination.

Juan Hernandez, a U.S.-educated businessman Fox appointed to the Office for Mexicans Living Abroad, said he will "take a message of a new Mexico to my countrymen living everywhere in the world and tell them they have a role to play in that new Mexico."

The most controversial appointment was that of Carlos Abascal, the former head of the Mexican Employers' Council, as labor secretary, a post that has traditionally served as a mediator between unions and employers.

Luis H. Alvarez, a lawyer, former senator and longtime National Action Party leader, was appointed as Fox's point man on the troubled southern state of Chiapas.

The social development secretariat went to Josefina Vazquez, one of only two women so far in 17 Cabinet posts.

Fox named Xochitl Galvez, an Otomi Indian who rose from poverty to found a successful high-tech consulting firm, to head a new office on Indian affairs.

Fox also appointed:

--As health secretary, Julio Frenk, a U.S.-educated doctor and former World Health Organization official.

--As education secretary, Reyes Tamez, a chemist and rector of the state university in northern Monterrey.

--As head of the new presidential office for the disabled, Victor Flores.

--As head of the office of planning and regional development, Carlos Flores.

--As head of a new office on vocational and adult education, Rafael Rangel.

--As head of a new office on alliance and civic groups, Rodolfo Elizondo.

--As head of the government Foreign Commerce Bank, Jose Romero Hicks.

--As head of the National Sports Commission, Nelson Vargas.

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