The Miami Herald
January 10, 2001

Mexico, Argentina bolster political ties to Miami


 Mexico and Argentina have taken the unusual step of appointing senior
 ambassadors to their consulates in Miami, in what some officials of the two
 countries say is a reflection of their belief that Florida will play an important
 political role in the Bush administration.

 Mexico's new consul general in Miami will be Manuel Rodríguez Arriaga, a former
 ambassador to Belgium, China and Norway, who was also under-secretary of
 foreign affairs, senior Mexican officials told The Herald on Tuesday.

 Argentina, in turn, will appoint Guillermo Jacovella, a former ambassador to Spain,
 one of Argentina's key diplomatic destinations.

 Rodríguez Arriaga, 51, who did post-graduate studies in public administration at
 the University of Warwick, England, started his diplomatic career in 1979 as an
 economic advisor at Mexico's mission to the United Nations in New York. His
 nomination for the Miami job will have to be approved by the Mexican congress.

 ``We wanted a top level diplomat to cover Florida,'' Mexico's under-secretary of
 foreign affairs Enrique Berruga said in an interview Tuesday. ``Politically, the
 state's importance is bigger than in the past.''

 In addition to being an entry gate for much of Latin America to the United States,
 South Florida is the headquarters of key Spanish-language media that reach the
 entire region, and the state played the deciding role in the recent presidential
 elections, he said.

 Other Mexican and Argentine diplomats suggested that their governments may
 want to establish close ties with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of the incoming
 president, and other Florida politicians expected to be influential in George W.
 Bush's administration.

 Last week, Argentina's daily La Nación quoted an Argentine official as saying that
 ``the idea is to elevate the status of the [Miami] consulate to that of an embassy,
 so that Ambassador Jacovella can work side by side with Ambassador [to
 Washington] Guillermo González.''

 Argentina's foreign minister Adalberto Rodríguez Giavarini told The Herald in a
 telephone interview from Rome that Argentina wanted to appoint a top-level
 diplomat in Miami because of Florida's ``growing importance as a place to
 generate business.'' Jacovella ``is a very close friend of the ambassador to
 Washington,'' and the two diplomats' functions will not overlap, he added.