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Few people are laughing at US Ambassador John Gavin now.

When President Reagan named friend and former actor Gavin as ambassador to Mexico, the announcement was greeted with shock in Washington and Mexico City. To the Mexican public, Gavin was best known as the handsome man who introduced rum commercials on Mexican TV.

But since taking the post, Gavin has convinced a number of diplomats that he is doing an effective job. The Mexicans are certain that Gavin has Reagan's ear--that's important to a society that emphasizes personal, high-level, behind-the-scenes conctacts.

Insiders say Gavin seems to know when to speak out and when to keep quiet in his dealings with Mexican officials.

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