Mexico proposes non-diplomat for U.S. embassy post

Mexico has nominated a former government pollster with close ties to President Enrique Pena Nieto’s home state to be its new ambassador in the United States, two officials familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the two said Mexico had put forward Miguel Basanez, an academic from outside the diplomatic service, who worked closely with a distant cousin of Pena Nieto, Alfredo del Mazo Gonzalez, in the State of Mexico.

Both del Mazo, a second cousin to Pena Nieto’s father, and the president were governors of the state. Both are associated with the Grupo Atlacomulco, a powerful group within the ruling party that bears the name of the town where Pena Nieto was born.

The Mexican government said the designation of the next ambassador was still underway.

“Until the process is completely finished, the foreign ministry will make no comment on decisions that are not official,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

The nomination of a man who since the 1980s has been known chiefly as a political scientist and pollster suggests that Pena Nieto is keen to have control of the important diplomatic post among trusted allies from the state he governed from 2005 to 2011.

After a year beset by scandals and setbacks, some lawmakers within the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, believe it would be wise for Pena Nieto to loosen the hold his inner circle has on major posts.

During the 1980s, Basanez was briefly attorney general of the State of Mexico under del Mazo, and then became his boss’s private secretary in the Energy Ministry from 1986 to 1988.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Grant McCool)


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