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Envoy to Mexico Engaged to Wed Corona Heiress

By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, February 1, 2005; Page A13

MEXICO CITY, Jan. 31 -- U.S. Ambassador Antonio O. Garza Jr., a Texas political figure and longtime friend of President Bush's, is engaged to be married to Maria Asuncion Aramburuzabala, a billionaire heiress and businesswoman whose family company brews Corona beer.

Officials at the U.S. Embassy confirmed the engagement Monday but offered no other details on wedding plans for Garza, 45, the son of a gas station owner in Brownsville, Tex., and Aramburuzabala, 41, who serves as vice president of the brewing giant Grupo Modelo and Televisa, Mexico's largest television and media company.

Aramburuzabala is widely referred to in Mexico as the country's wealthiest woman, and Forbes magazine has estimated her family fortune at $1.5 billion. The marriage would be the first for Garza and the second for Aramburuzabala, who has two children from her previous marriage, which ended in divorce.

Mexico's radio and television chat shows were abuzz Monday with news of the engagement, first reported Sunday by El Universal newspaper. Many Mexicans seemed to see the match in terms of its potential benefits for ties between the United States and Mexico.

"It's good news for our country. Maybe this marriage is going to be the perfect thing for the relationship between the countries," said Guadalupe Loaeza, a social commentator. "Maybe they can do what Derbez and Fox haven't been able to do," she said, referring to Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez and President Vicente Fox.

Aramburuzabala's grandfather, an immigrant from Spain, founded Grupo Modelo early in the 20th century and passed it to his son.

Aramburuzabala was married at 19 and received an accounting degree from the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico. When her father died in 1995, she managed to overcome Mexico's macho business culture and maintain family control of the company. Now one of its top executives, she has helped Grupo Modelo grow into an international giant and seller of one of the world's most popular beers.

Garza is a Republican who has served in Texas as secretary of state and railroad commissioner; in the latter capacity, he regulated the state's oil and natural gas industries. He is seen as having further political aspirations in his home state.


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