- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 1, 2006


Roberto Madrazo, a career member of the political party that ruled Mexico for 71 years, is a marathon runner who says he has the stamina to turn Mexico around.

Campaigning from the center, Mr. Madrazo, 53, says he can help the poor without hurting the rich, and cites his party leadership as his main credential for the presidency.

“We need a team with experience to build the country we want,” he says.

Mr. Madrazo was born into the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century until Vicente Fox and his conservative National Action Party came to power in 2000.

His father, Carlos Madrazo, was a PRI governor in the southern state of Tabasco and later pushed to democratize his party.

Roberto Madrazo was orphaned at 17 when his parents died in a plane crash, purportedly engineered by his father’s party rivals.

Supported by powerful friends of his father, Mr. Madrazo completed his law degree and rapidly climbed the PRI ladder. He became a federal congressman at 24, adviser to the Mexico City mayor at 27, a senator at 36 and Tabasco governor at 42.

In 1999, he took over the party leadership and led a PRI rebound. The party held on to 17 of Mexico’s 31 gubernatorial posts and increased its strength in Congress, where it remains the biggest party. However, it has been shaken by Mr. Madrazo’s insult-filled fights with party rivals.

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