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Calm, cool and collected, Ruffo at ease in new role

April 25, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Ernesto Ruffo Appel doesn't sweat, at least not visibly.

As sweat-soaked reporters held tape recorders and microphones in his face, Ruffo, commissioner of border affairs in Mexican President Vicente Fox's cabinet, stood coolly and confidently under the bright sun's glare.

He didn't wipe his brow. He didn't shield his eyes.

Briskly answering questions in Spanish, Ruffo stood in front of the sprinkling fountain in the courtyard of Calexico's downtown border crossing and showed part of the reason Fox created a cabinet position for him.

As governor of Baja California from 1989 to 1995, Ruffo was regularly in the middle of controversy.

The symbolic ceremony Tuesday put on by the Calexico City Council and Chamber of Commerce in which Ruffo received the key to the city was not stressful but he showed his composure and style and respect to everyone he met.

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He walked through the turnstiles over the border with Mexicali Mayor Victor Hermosillo. There they were greeted by Calexico city councilmen John Renison and Gilbert Grijalva.

Renison gave Ruffo a key to the city and Grijalva gave him a commemorative pin.

Ruffo thanked the men and then was immediately surrounded by Spanish-language media.

After 10 minutes in 90-degree heat, not a bead showed on his forehead.

Some reporters asking him questions or holding cameras were glistening like a basted turkey.

Not Ruffo.

After answering the media's questions about the energy crisis and the nature of his trip here, a handler whisked the commissioner into a black Suburban and he headed to Holtville for a reception in his honor.

After the ceremony was over and Ruffo was gone, everyone could relax — or in the case of some, go change a shirt.

Calexico Police Chief Tommy Tunson said it was great to see Ruffo and said it was exactly the sort of binational event the city needs to host.

But, even the chief wasn't immune to the heat.

After welcoming the commissioner, he wiped his glistening head.

Grijalva?

He waited for the commissioner's arrival in the shade, gave him his pin and walked back into the shade as Ruffo dealt with the reporters.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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