Monday, June 12, 2006

The Eagle's Throne by Carlos Fuentes

Carlos Fuentes, a longtime critic of American imperialism and economic policies in Latin America, is best known for his 1962 novel The Death of Artemio Cruz. A lawyer and Mexican dissident, Fuentes has had a political career that runs the gamut: assistant head of the press section of Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, head of the Department of Cultural Relations and, after a period of exile in Paris, Mexican ambassador to France. Fuentes wrote The Eagle's Throne, originally published in Spanish in 2002, after he was asked by President Bill Clinton why Mexico had no vice presidents and what would happen if the Mexican president died in office. In such a situation, the Mexican Congress appoints an acting president, but, as Fuentes shows us, there are enough contenders for the office of president - the eagle's throne of the title - without adding a vice president to the mix.

The Eagle's Throne starts in the not-too-distant future of January 2020, and President Lorenzo Teran of Mexico has called for the withdrawal of American occupation forces from Colombia and a ban on Mexican oil exports to the United States unless Washington agrees to abide by OPEC pricing. The U.S. responds by blacking out the international communications satellite for Mexico, leaving the country without phone, fax or e-mail service. But this is only back story to allow for the novel's epistolary form as the characters are forced to communicate via letters. The Eagle's Throne is a political Dangerous Liaisons, with all the intrigue, blackmail, backstabbing and seduction of a telenovela.

Fuentes' politicians aren't particularly upset by their current rupture with the U.S., because they have other concerns: The 2023 presidential election is looming, and the current president has yet to anoint a candidate as his successor. The behind-the-scenes jockeying for power begins, with Cabinet members pitted against each other and using every possible tactic to gain the advantage.

You can find the review here

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