Fox Quesada, Vicente

Fox Quesada, Vicente
▪ 2001

      On July 2, 2000, Vicente Fox Quesada was elected president of Mexico and thereby ended 71 uninterrupted years of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). As the candidate of the centre-right National Action Party (PAN), Fox won approximately 43% of the vote to 36% for PRI candidate Francisco Labastida Ochoa and 16.5% for Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano of the leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD). After his election Fox, at one time president of the Mexican subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Co., said that he planned to run a “businesslike” administration and that “the main problem of Mexico is development . . . growth of the economy, it's getting the jobs that we need, it's sharing the income, redistributing income.” He also pledged to end the cronyism that had been prevalent in PRI administrations, saying he would “make sure we get the best men and best women this country has for each of the positions. It's a little bit like we do it in companies.”

      Fox was born July 2, 1942, in Mexico City and was raised on a 445-ha (1,100-ac) ranch in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato. The ranch had been purchased by his paternal grandfather, an immigrant from Ireland. Fox's mother was born in Spain; at one time having a foreign-born parent would have barred Fox from seeking the presidency. A Roman Catholic, Fox was educated at the Jesuit Ibero-American University in Mexico City. After graduation he did postgraduate studies at Harvard University before working as a salesman for the Mexican unit of Coca-Cola. In 1971 he was transferred to the company's office in Mexico City, where he quickly rose in the firm to serve as its chief executive in Mexico from 1975 to 1979. In recalling that period in his life, Fox said, “What I hated most about those years at Coca-Cola was the time I had to spend dithering with the government.” In 1979 Coca-Cola offered Fox a promotion to become head of its Latin American operations, but because this would have required him to live in Miami, Fla., he resigned and moved back to Guanajuato with his brothers. Mexico's difficult economy during the 1980s convinced Fox that the country needed new leadership. In 1988, as a PAN candidate, he ran for a seat in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Mexico's legislature, and was elected. After serving one term he ran for governor of Guanajuato but lost in an election during which charges of fraud were made. In 1995 he again ran for governor and was elected.

      During the sometimes stormy presidential campaign, the almost 2-m (6-ft 5-in)-tall Fox lashed out at Labastida, calling him “shorty” and ridiculing him as an “errand boy” for the PRI. After the election Fox broke precedent by apologizing in person to Labastida and other opponents he had criticized.

David R. Calhoun

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Universalium. 2010.

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