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Freedom's price.

Sitting down with Spain's Jose Maria Aznar, whose exclusive interview appears in this issue, is a simultaneously disarming and eye-opening experience. Disarming because the former Prime Minister, who only left office in April 2004, has all the approachability of the part-time college professor he will soon become: Shirt open, in a casual coat, he moves quickly and succinctly among politically touchy topics as quickly as the questions come.

Eye-opening because he's a man who, like his counterparts in England and the United States, is very, very sure of himself. Normally, that kind of certainty--especially to the ears of trained journalists--is a flashing warning beacon. Being absolutely sure sounds too much like a hard sell, a bully trying to bluff his way into your confidence by presenting his opinions as obvious fact. The world press commonly criticizes U.S. President George W. Bush for this; yet being certain has won him a lot of votes over the years, in Texas and as president. The U.K.'s Tony Blair has had a harder time playing this hand. Aznar falls in the reasonable middle. He's just as sure as Bush, but his intellect, as well as personal experience as a victim of a car-bombing, makes him much more believable.

That morning in a Coral Gables hotel suite--oblivious golfers in the distance, a Spanish secret-service bodyguard in the corner of the room--came rushing back as news of the London subway attacks filled our television and Internet screens. This is real. Terrorists are not reasonable. We are in danger. The only questions left are who will lead the fight, and can we stand up to the challenge?

P.S. Our annual banks feature has blossomed into a true panoramic view of Latin America's financial industry. This year we added top pension funds, top insurers and top stock brokerages from across the region. Don't miss BankBoston do Brasil's Geraldo Carbone. He sees growth if Lula can pull off a trifecta: lower interest rates, control over inflation and serious tax reform.

--Greg Brown

gbrown@latintrade.com

FINANCIAL LEADERS 2005 ART DIRECTION: B.Y. COOPER/LATIN TRADE
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Author:Brown, Greg
Publication:Latin Trade
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Words:350
Previous Article:Peace be with you.
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