Andres Bermudez

    - Valenda Newell
  • "Mis mas sentido pesame a los familiares del senor Andres..."
    - Digna Pachas
  • "Que descanse en paz, Don Andres, De parte de la Familia..."
    - Teresa Padilla
  • "God bless you."
  • "Dear family: May GOD's tender care and mercies be with you..."
    - Barbara Mills

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Andres Bermudez, who made a fortune as a "tomato king" and history by becoming the first migrant living in the United States to win a Mexican mayorship, has died of cancer. He was 58.

Bermudez, a flamboyant lawmaker for President Felipe Calderon's National Action Party, or PAN, died Thursday, the party said in a statement. He had battled stomach cancer since March.

He died at a hospital in Houston, Texas, where he was receiving treatment since December, the daily newspaper El Sol de Zacatecas reported.

Bermudez first crossed illegally into the United States in 1973, hidden in a car trunk with his pregnant wife. He then worked his way from field hand to labor contractor in California. He invented a tomato-planting machine that earned him the nickname "Tomato King" and made him a fortune.

Bermudez made history in 2001 when he was elected mayor of his hometown of Jerez, in the northern state of Zacatecas.

He was stripped of that victory by the Federal Electoral Institute because he had not met residency requirements, but won the mayorship again in 2004 after Zacatecas legislators changed state laws to let part-time residents seek public office.

Bermudez always dressed in black, from his hat to his Tony Lama boots, and was known for his gruff-talking style and flamboyant personality. Those traits provoked harsh criticism from some of Jerez's city council members, who accused him of being arrogant and confrontational.

In 2006, Bermudez, who shuttled between his ranch in California and Jerez, won a seat in the lower house of Congress for the PAN.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press
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