By Rebekah F Ward
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s Arturo Herrera looks grim in a viral video in which President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador names him finance minister, a job Herrera’s predecessor left in a huff at a time when Latin America’s second largest economy is signaling weakness.
With Herrera at his side, Lopez Obrador for nearly six minutes plays down former Finance Minister Carlos Urzua’s fiery and unexpected resignation letter accusing the government of formulating economic policy without sufficient foundation.
The well-regarded Herrera looks so downcast in the video as to garner far more online attention than Lopez Obrador’s Tuesday remarks.
Internet users interpreted Herrera’s thought process with such lines as, “What if I resigned right now?” “I should have studied childcare” and the ironic “best day ever!”
Body language and behavioral analyst Jesus Enrique Rosas at the Knesix Institute said Herrera’s avoidance of eye contact and rapid blinking – some 60 blinks per minute versus a normal rate of 15 per minute – might reflect heightened nervousness.
As Lopez Obrador repeats his trademark promises, Herrera’s blinking increases; he gulps and displays other signs of uneasiness, Rosas said.
Apparent critics of Lopez Obrador’s leftward policy shift branded Herrera’s stare as the “face of Mexico.”
Opinion polls show that Lopez Obrador, who took office in December after a landslide victory, is supported by a vast majority of Mexicans.
One take on the announcement video amassed more than half a million views on Twitter. It sets the video to the melancholic tunes of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence.”
Later on Tuesday, Herrera looked far more relaxed, telling reporters with a smile that in previous roles, “they accused me of laughing too much… so now I try, in solemn moments, to be careful.”
(Reporting by Rebekah F Ward; additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Abraham Gonzalez; Editing by Anthony Esposito and Howard Goller)