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Column 091916 Wall

Monday, September 19, 2016

After Trump's Visit Mexican President Sacks Finance Minister

By Allan Wall

In the aftermath of the controversial visit of Donald Trump to Mexico (see Surreal Trump-Peña Nieto Meeting Backfires on Peña Nieto), Finance Minister Luis Videgaray (photo here), Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s closest adviser, lost his cabinet position.

The change was announced by President Peña Nieto at a press conference on September 7th, 2016, a week after the appearance by Trump in Mexico City which was attacked so strongly.

Officially, Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray resigned, and no reason was given for it in the press conference.  But it’s regarded as resulting from the Trump visit, which was apparently Videgaray’s idea. 

Not only was it his idea, but he had been negotiating about it, with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, since August. 

Apparently though, the Trump thing was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, as there had been rumors about Videgaray leaving for months.   Economic growth is sluggish and the economy even contracted in the second quarter.  Videgaray was accused (and later officially cleared) of corruption in the case of the acquisition of property from a government contractor.  And there were reported conflicts between Videgaray and other cabinet members.

Jose Antonio Meade, himself a former finance minister, replaces Videgaray.

Luis Videgaray, who has a doctorate in economics from M.I.T., was more than just another cabinet official.  Dr. Videgaray was a longtime ally of Enrique Peña Nieto, having worked for him since 2005, when Peña Nieto obtained the governorship of the central state of Mexico (also called “Edomex”).  In Edomex, Videgaray worked on restructuring the state’s debt. 

When Peña Nieto ran for president of Mexico, Videgaray ran the campaign.

As described in Newsweek, “Videgaray ran Peña Nieto's election campaign, and was long regarded as the most powerful Cabinet minister, with a huge influence on policy after orchestrating the country's landmark energy, telecommunications, tax and education reforms.”

The New York Times  described Videgaray as Peña Nieto’s “closest ally and adviser in the cabinet.”

Political analyst Alfonso Zarate went so far as to call Videgaray “the power behind the throne.”

Videgaray was seen as having a promising political future, as a possible candidate for Edomex governor, or even as president of Mexico.   

The question now is, how is the embattled Peña Nieto administration going to continue without Videgaray?

The previously-quoted analyst Alfonso Zarate described Videgaray’s resignation as “very painful for the president,” which “leaves the president orphaned.”  After all, quoth Zarate, “we all know the enormous influence that he [Videgaray] has.”

(NOTE:  I was recently a guest on Silvio Canto, Jr’s Canto Talk show.  We discussed Donald Trump’s recent visit to Mexico and other topics.  To listen, click here.)

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Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info.

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