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Mexico's border czar is set to join S.D. board

By Diane Lindquist
The San Diego Union-Tribune, November 16, 2000

The man Mexican President-elect Vicente Fox has tapped to be his "border czar" also is about to take a board seat on the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber president Jessie J. Knight Jr. said yesterday that former Baja California Gov. Ernesto Ruffo Appel, who will oversee economic development along the U.S.-Mexico border for Fox, has been appointed and agreed to serve on the organization's board of directors.

Chamber members have to approve Ruffo's membership on the board, but Knight said that's "only a formality." No date has been set for the vote.

The chamber, as well as the San Diego-Baja California region, will benefit from having an official in Fox's Cabinet among its directors, Knight said.

Ruffo was nominated for the chamber position before he accepted the appointment from Fox. Knight said Ruffo will be an advisory member -- he won't vote because of his government position.

Ruffo is believed to be the chamber's first board nominee from Mexico. "Certainly no one of his stature" has been on the board before, Knight said.

Carlos Malamud, a Tijuana real estate investor who lives in San Diego, also has been nominated.

"It's a real coup to get Ruffo as a board member," said Richard Kiy, a PriceSmart senior vice president and co-chair of the chamber's International Business Forum.

"It will increase the visibility of San Diego with this incoming (Mexican presidential) administration, especially compared to the problems San Diego and Tijuana have had getting attention in the past."