Mexico’s Meade Moves to Anti-Poverty Job in Pena Cabinet Shuffle

Mexico Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade will jump to the Social Development Ministry as part of a broad overhaul representing the biggest cabinet changes since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office almost three years ago.

Pena Nieto’s chief of staff, Aurelio Nuno, will become public education minister, the president said at an event in Mexico City. Claudia Ruiz Massieu, until now the tourism minister, will replace Meade as Mexico’s top diplomat.

The changes show that Pena Nieto is looking to broaden his options for a successor after his closest advisers have been undercut by a weak economy, security crises and scandals, said analyst Jorge Chabat. The Social Development Ministry posting was used by Luis Colosio, the leading presidential candidate before his 1994 assassination, as a springboard in Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

“This is a clear signal that Meade will be in play to be a possible PRI candidate for president,” Chabat, a professor at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching, said in a telephone interview. “Pena Nieto has to broaden his playing cards for possible candidates.”

Pena Nieto also said that Renato Sales will replace Monte Alejandro Rubido as national security commissioner while outgoing Social Development Minister Rosario Robles will replace Jesus Murillo Karam as land development chief.

Pena Nieto also announced new ministers of agriculture, tourism and environment, as well as a new chief of staff. Pena Nieto’s term ends in 2018 and he is barred from re-election.

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