Jorge Castaneda, Minister of Democracy

| July 13, 2001

Jorge Castaneda, Minister of Democracy, James E. Garcia,
Throughout the '90s, Mexican academic Jorge Castaneda was the prime force behind a Latin America-wide movement to re-energize the political left. His efforts to promote European-style social democracy had a profound impact on the region, and aided the rise to power of left-leaning governments in Chile, Venezuela, and several other countries. At first blush, Castaneda's latest gig, as Foreign Minister in the right-wing government of Mexican President Vicente Fox, may seem like a contradiction. But don't be too quick to judge, says commentator James E. Garcia. In his weekly column on, the Latino political Web zine he edits, Garcia points out that despite the president's decidedly pro-business bent, Fox and Castaneda share a populist belief in democracy, transparency, and open lines of communication. 'If someone in Fox's family bought a $400 set of bath towels, the Mexican people should know about it,' Castaneda said recently. 'If the government believes it needs to raise the national sales tax, then the people should be allowed to debate that without fear of retribution.' After 80 years of corrupt, one-party rule in Mexico, Castaneda is leading the new government toward a new era of democracy with a small 'd'.
--Leif Utne
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