By Aran Shetterly Original Print Publication: November, 2007
25 Brilliant, Innovative and Visionary Mexicans 2007
You know who President Felipe Calderon is, and also recognize his nemesis, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, from the tense 2006 presidential election. You know who Carlos Slim is and, if you live in Mexico, chances are you write him at least one check a month. You can read former President Vicente Fox's new book in English. Actress Salma Hayek just had a baby. You swooned when actor Gael Garcia Bernal (who is Mexican) played Che Guevara (who wasn't). But aren't you bored of seeing the same old names in the headlines?
That's why we decided to apply some fresh thought to the idea of the "top" list. We looked North and South, solicited input from editors, journalists and people "in the know" around Mexico, gathered a long list and went into the war room. We wanted interesting people who added dimension to our sense of what Mexico is and can be. It got heated, but in the end we came out with 25 amazing people. Once we had the list we had to chase our busy subjects down. Our team went out to interview and research the nominees, and we got some of the most talented photographers around to take their portraits. The resulting group of 25 scientists, economists, journalists, chefs, artists, conservationists, entrepreneurs, producers, activists, philanthropists and athletes are presented here for your consideration.
Juan Enriquez Cabot – economist, author, lecturer, venture capitalist, and entrepreneur– focuses on two subjects that represent potentially dramatic change: the inherent fragility of the nation state and the power of the map of the human genome.
Image:Courtesty of The Subject
Juan Enriquez Cabot
- 25 Mexicans: Alberto Ruy Sanchez, encyclopedist
- 25 Mexicans: Alfredo Harp Helu, invisible hand
- 25 Mexicans: Amalia Garcia, beacon
- 25 Mexicans: Andrés Rozental, counselor
- 25 Mexicans: Carlos Marin, pioneer
- 25 Mexicans: Carmen Correa, virtuousa
- 25 Mexicans: Clara Gonzalez, fashionista
- 25 Mexicans: Daniel Aguilar, chronicler
- 25 Mexicans: Dario Ramirez, straight shooter
- 25 Mexicans: Deyanira Aquino, ethnologist
- 25 Mexicans: Eduardo García, prognosticator
- 25 Mexicans: Elisa Miller, ingenue
- 25 Mexicans: Hector Mijangos, indie king
- 25 Mexicans: Hector Rivero Borrell, trustee
- 25 Mexicans: Jessy Bulbo, rockstar
- 25 Mexicans: Lorena Ochoa, champion
- 25 Mexicans: Minerva Cuevas, conceptualist
- 25 Mexicans: Pablo Cruz, maestro
- 25 Mexicans: Patrica Mercado, alternative
- 25 Mexicans: Raul Padilla Lopez, crusader
- 25 Mexicans: Sonia Arias, prodigy
- 25 Mexicans: Subcomandante Marcos, spokesman
Enriquez was born in Mexico, but since grammar school, this former Harvard Business School professor has moved back and forth between Mexico and the US. “[Moving a lot] taught me not to take things for granted,” he says. He currently lives in Boston.
Nations are strengthened, says Enriquez, who helped negotiate a cease fire with the Zapatistas, when diversity and plurality are valued. Dividing people along ethnic, gender and religious lines endangers nations.
“Three-quarters of the countries in the UN didn’t exist in 1950. You can’t assume that no matter what you do your country will always be there.”
Enriquez calls the map of the human genome the scientific equivalent of Columbus sailing to the New World. He has formed a research and venture capital company, Biotechonomy, to take advantage of this new-found land of opportunity, and works closely with Craig Venter, the scientist who won the race to map the genome.
Will he return to Mexico? Someday, he says. But when Enriquez talks about Mexico you hear both his worry for the nation’s survival and his faith in the power of technology as an economic engine.
“Mexico can compete with anyone in art, poetry, humor, textiles…but not in science and technology…Education is absolutely essential. The only way to integrate rich and poor is to give the poor a chance to climb up. 40% of the entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are Indian and Chinese, and most of them were poor to begin with.
“If you are born poor in Mexico today, you don’t become an entrepreneur as a way out.” That, Enriquez hopes, will change.
Note: This article was originally published in our November, 2007 issue.