Is Mexico’s number-two Mexican enough?

February 17th, 2008 - 9:16 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger
Mexico City, Feb 17 (DPA) A peculiar Sherlock Holmes is threatening the political career of the number two in Mexico’s government hierarchy - the official closest to President Felipe Calderon and a man billed as a favourite in the 2012 presidential race. Ever since Juan Camilo Mourino - the son of the president of Spanish football club Celta Vigo - was appointed head of the interior ministry last month by Calderon, Mexican media has been busy trying to determine whether or not he is “fully Mexican.”

Or rather, whether Mourino - born in Madrid in 1971 holding Mexican citizenship - fulfils the constitutional requirements for certain high offices: being “Mexican by birth” and holding no other citizenship.

Mourino, 36, is in practice a sort of vice president, and has attracted thorough investigation.

On Thursday, a self-appointed detective, Gerardo Fernandez Norona, a top official in the country’s leftist opposition, demanded the minister’s resignation, claiming that he is not “Mexican by birth” and can therefore not hold the post.

Fernandez Norona spent a week in Spain sniffing out leads, and returned to Mexico triumphantly with documents he says prove that Mourino is indeed Spanish and that his parents and sister are in fact registered to vote there.

The opposition party communications secretary, Fernandez Norona charged that Mourino had been “cynical” in pretending that he is in a position to be a Mexican minister despite his strong ties to Spain.

“Alluding to your mother’s alleged Mexican citizenship, I tell you, in this document, that your father, Carlos Mourino Atanes; your mother, Maria de los Angeles Terrazo Blanco; and your sister, Maria de los Angeles Mourino Terrazo, are registered as Spanish citizens to vote in the upcoming election of March 9 in Spain,” Fernandez Norona said.

Mourino has argued that, although his father is Spanish, his mother is “Mexican by birth” and that he himself is too, after giving up his Spanish citizenship in 1989, when he was 18. This would fulfill the requirements set by Mexican law to hold high office.

However, a daily in the Mexican state of Campeche published several years ago a copy of a Spanish passport in the name of Juan Camilo Mourino, which had been issued in 1996. This would invalidate the claim that the minister had given up his Spanish citizenship, and therefore invalidate the condition of “Mexican by birth” that was granted to him by a Mexican citizenship certificate issued in 1989.

In Mexico, it is not the same to have been born in the country’s territory as to be a naturalized foreigner or to be born abroad to a Mexican father or mother.

If Mexican legislation was in place in the US, the Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger could never have become governor of California, or a federal police officer or soldier.

According to Mexican media, Mourino’s maternal grandparents were born in Spain and adopted Mexican citizenship 1942-1946.

According to a document published by the daily Reforma, Mourino’s mother was born in 1950 in Mexico City, which would give her son the right to be “Mexican by birth” as long as he gave up his Spanish citizenship, even if he was in fact born in Madrid.

In 2000, Vicente Fox - the son of a Mexican father and a Spanish mother - was allowed to become president following a constitutional reform that did away with the requirement that both parents be Mexican.

Many are already mentioning Mourino as a favourite to be the ruling party’s presidential candidate in 2012.

That means the controversy as to whether he is Mexican by birth and whether he has indeed given up his Spanish citizenship is not about to go away anytime soon.

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