Vicente Fox Quesada (born July 2 1942) is a Mexican politician who served as President of Mexico from 2000 to 2006 and currently serves as co-President of the Centrist Democrat International, an international organization of Christian democratic political parties.
Fox was elected President of Mexico in the 2000 presidential election, a historically significant election that made him the first president elected from an opposition party since Álvaro Obregón in 1920. The 2000 election was also significant because it was the first presidential election since the end of the Mexican Revolution to be generally considered competitive and fair. He was elected with 42 percent of the vote, marking the first time that the then-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party had lost a presidential election.
After serving as president of Mexico for six years, President Fox returned to his home state of Guanajuato, where he resides with his wife and family. Since leaving the presidency, Vicente Fox has been involved in public speaking and the construction of the Vicente Fox Center of Studies, Library and Museum.
Early life and education
Vicente Fox was born in Mexico City
on July 2 1942
, the second of nine children. His father was José Luis Fox Pont, an American citizen and his mother was Mercedes Quesada Etxaide, a Basque
. Fox's paternal grandfather was born Joseph Louis Fuchs in Cincinnati, Ohio
, United States
, son of German Catholic
immigrants Louis Fuchs and Catherina Elisabetha Flach. The 'Fox' name was changed from the German 'Fuchs' in the 1870s.
Fox spent his childhood and adolescence at the family ranch in San Francisco del Rincón in Guanajuato. He moved back to Mexico City to attend the Universidad Iberoamericana where he pursued a business degree until 1964, and obtained a diploma in Top Management Skills from the Harvard Business School.
President of Coca-Cola Company
In 1964, he went to work for The Coca-Cola Company where he started as a route supervisor and drove a delivery truck. He quickly rose in the company to become supervisor of Coca-Cola's operations in Mexico, and later in all of Latin America. As President of Coca Cola Mexico, Vicente Fox helped Coca-Cola become Mexico's top selling soft drink, increasing Coca-Cola's sales by almost 50%.
Vicente Fox married a receptionist at Coca-Cola, Lilian de la Concha. They adopted four children, Ana Cristina, Vicente, Paulina and Rodrigo. In 1990, after 20 years of marriage, Lilian filed for divorce.
Vicente Fox married for the second time while in office. He married Marta María Sahagún Jiménez (until then his spokesperson) on July 2 2001, the first anniversary of his presidential election and his 59th birthday. For both, this was their second marriage.
Early political career
After retiring from Coca-Cola, Vicente Fox began to participate in various public activities in Guanajuato, where he created the "Patronato de la Casa Cuna Amigo Daniel", an orphanage. He was president of Patronato Loyola, a sponsor of the León
campus of the Universidad Iberoamericana
and the Lux Institute.
With the support of Manuel Clouthier, Vicente Fox joined the Partido Acción Nacional on March 1, 1988. That same year he ran for and was elected to the federal Chamber of Deputies representing the Third Federal District in León, Guanajuato.
Governor of Guanajuato
After serving in the Chamber of Deputies
, Fox sought the governorship in Guanajuato in 1991, but lost to Ramón Aguirre Velázquez
of the PRI
. Following the election, local discontent was so great that the state Congress appointed Carlos Medina Placencia
of the PAN
as interim governor. Four years later, Fox decided to run again, winning by a vote of 2 to 1.
Campaign for President
In 2000, Vicente Fox decided to run for President of Mexico
. In spite of opposition within his party, Fox secured his candidacy representing the Alliance for Change
, a political coalition formed by the National Action Party
and the Green Ecological Party of Mexico
During the course of his campaign a presidential debate was organized. There was a disagreement between the three main contenders, Fox, Francisco Labastida of the PRI and Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas of the PRD, and some of the arguments were broadcast on national television, notably the one on whether the debate should be held that same day or the following Friday. For minutes, Fox kept repeating the word "Hoy" meaning "today", originating the famous phrase "hoy, hoy, hoy!". The other candidates decided to postpone the debate, but Fox used that day's airtime anyway. At first the action brought criticism to Fox, but it soon backfired against his opponents when Fox started using his new phrase to gain new supporters as he campaigned for a better future "today".
Fox's main votebank was the Criollo and Mestizo populace of Northern and Central Mexico.
During the presidential debate Francisco Labastida, his main opponent, claimed in a nationally televised debate that Vicente Fox had repeatedly called him a "sissy" and a "cross-dresser".
His campaign slogans were "Ya!" ("Right now!"), "Ya ganamos" ("We've already won") and "Vota Alianza por el Cambio" meaning "Vote for Alliance for Change".
Amigos de Fox
Amigos de Fox
("Friends of Fox") was a non-profit fund raising group that was instrumental in getting Vicente Fox elected President of Mexico. The phrase was also used as a campaign slogan referring to the millions of people supporting Fox in the 2000 presidential elections.
In 2003, money-laundering charges were lodged against the fund raising group, but were dropped a fortnight before the July 2003 mid-term elections.
On July 2 2000, the day of his 58th birthday, Vicente Fox won the presidential election with 43% (15,989,636 votes) of the popular vote, followed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Francisco Labastida with 36% (13,579,718 votes), and Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) with 17% (6,256,780 votes). Vicente Fox declared victory that same night, a victory which was ratified by President Zedillo. After the final results were announced, President-elect Vicente Fox met with thousands of supporters at the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City, to address his supporters and celebrate his victory. His opponents conceded the election later that night.
President-elect Vicente Fox received an enormous amount of media coverage, as well as many congratulating messages and phone calls from world leaders including the President of the United States at the time, Bill Clinton.
Fox took office as president on December 1, 2000 marking the first time in Mexico's history that an incumbent government peacefully surrendered power to an elected member of the opposition.
- See article Fox administration
- In May 2005, a controversy arose over comments Fox made during a meeting with Texas businesspeople in which he said, "There is no doubt that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work, are doing jobs that not even blacks want to do there in the United States." This angered many African-Americans in the United States, prompting many black leaders to demand an apology from Fox. The Reverend Al Sharpton requested a formal apology from Fox to the African-American community and called for an economic boycott of Mexican products until an apology was received; he and many African-Americans felt that Fox's comments were insensitive and racist. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, during a news conference concerning Fox's statement about African-Americans, said that he felt that the comments were, "unwitting, unnecessary and inappropriate" and added that "[Fox's] statement had the impact of being inciting and divisive.
- Fox was also known to have misspoken the name of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges as "José Luis Borgués" in the Royal Congress of the Spanish Language. This error sparked accusations of an "uncultured" President.
- In 2006 after Evo Morales refused to sell natural gas to willing buyers, Fox said, "Well, they'll either have to consume it all themselves or they're going to have to eat it.
- In yet another controversial move he decided to cancel the parade commemorating the 96th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution to take place November 20, arguing that it's an obsolete celebration in which nobody wants to participate anymore. Some analysts consider that this is a response to Andrés Manuel López Obrador's alternative presidency assuming to take place the same day. Criticism changes regarding the different sources: while some consider it a smart decision, others view it as a sign of political weakness.
- In November 2006, the TV network Telemundo released a video recording previous to an interview with President Fox where he states: "Ya hoy hablo libre, ya digo cualquier tontería, ya no importa, ya total, yo ya me voy," which means "Now, I speak freely. Now, I say any stupidity. It doesn't matter anymore. Anyway, I'm already leaving." Then, during the interview he talked about the violent situation in Oaxaca. The President's office complained about the release of this images and said he was not aware of the camera and microphones being turned on. News agency EFE accused Telemundo of acting unethically, for the video is their intellectual property.
- In a lecture in the United States, in which he was a keynote speaker, he identified writer Mario Vargas Llosa as a Nobel laureated Colombian, when he is Peruvian (Spanish by naturalization) and not a Nobel Prize winner.
During his campaign for president, Vicente Fox became well know for his unique cowboy style and popular charisma. With his trademark boots and “Fox” belt buckle, the president's personal style closely resembled that of many stereotypical "Mexicans". A gifted speaker, Fox usually gathered big crowds throughout his six years as president.
At six foot five, President Fox easily stood out in most crowds, and is believed to be one of the tallest presidents in Mexican history. After his inauguration, President Fox usually only wore suits for formal occasions, opting to wear his signature boots and jeans throughout his many visits around Mexico.
When President Fox welcomed U.S. President George W.Bush to his ranch in Guanajuato, both presidents were wearing Fox’s signature black cowboy boots, prompting the Wall Street Journal to call it “The Boot Summit”.
On December 1, 2006, Felipe Calderón, Fox’s former Secretary of Energy, took office as the President of Mexico. Although Fox had promised a one year stand of silence, he quickly changed his mind and began addressing reporters a few days later.
After leaving office in December 2006, Fox has maintained himself in the public eye by speaking in countries such as Nigeria
and the United States
about topics such as the controversial 2006 election
and the Iraq War
. Vincent Sun. In Mexico, Fox's busy post-presidency has caused much criticism. Nevertheless, Fox states, "There is no reason to hold to the anti-democratic rules of those who still live in the authoritarian past…now that Mexico is a democracy, every citizen has the right to express himself, even a former president."
In addition, President Fox has expressed interest in campaigning for PAN candidates in future Mexican elections, an action that would make him the first former president in many decades to do so. Given that President Fox is still well-liked and left office with approval ratings looming 70%, many in Mexico are wondering if his support can get candidates elected.
Fox's autobiography, entitled Revolution of Hope: The Life, Faith and Dreams of a Mexican President
, was released in September 2007, only in English, and only in the United States. To promote its release, Fox toured many U.S. cities to do book-signings and interviews with U.S. media. During his tour, however, he faced protests from Mexican immigrants who accused him of illicit enrichment and actions that forced them to emigrate and find jobs in the United States. He faced the subject several times during interviews, such as one held with Fox News
's Bill O'Reilly
, who questioned him about the migration problem between Mexico and the United States. Finally, during an interview with Telemundo
's Rubén Luengas, the interviewer asked Fox about allegations concerning some properties of Vicente Fox's wife, Martha Sahagún. After Fox explained the situation he asked the interviewer not to make false accusations and to prove what he was saying. Luengas said "I'm telling you in your face, I'm not a liar". After this Fox walked out of the studio, calling the interviewer a 'liar', 'vulgar', and 'stupid'. Upon the book's release, many were surprised to read several excerpts wherein Fox was highly critical of United States President, George W. Bush
, considered by many to be a close friend of Fox's. For example, Fox wrote that Bush was "the cockiest guy I have ever met in my life," and claimed that he was surprised that Bush had ever made it to the White House. Later, in an interview with Larry King
, Fox explained that this was a misunderstanding; what he meant by calling George W. Bush 'cocky' was to say he was 'confident'. Fox also referred to Bush in his autobiography as a "windshield cowboy
", due to Bush's apparent fear of a horse Vicente offered him to ride.
Fox Center of Studies, Library and Museum
- ''See: Vicente Fox Center of Studies, Library and Museum
On January 12
, over a month after he left office, Vicente Fox announced the construction of a center of studies, library and museum that has been labeled by the US press as Mexico's First Presidential Library.The project will be a library, museum, a "center for the advancement of democracy", a study center, and a hotel, and it will be completely privately funded. It is expected to be a genuine U.S. style presidential library. It will be built in his home state of Guanajuato
, in his home town of San Francisco del Rincón
While museums are abundant throughout the country, it has nothing comparable to a presidential library where personal documents, records, and gifts amassed by a country’s leader are opened to the public. Fox’s library will be modeled after the Bill Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, which, according to the former President, will allow Mexicans to enjoy, for the first time in Mexico’s history, the liberty to review the documents, images and records that made up his six years as president.
According to the official website, the construction of the Center is in progress and advancing. Final completion of the library is expected by late 2007.
Centrist Democratic International
On September 20
, Fox was elected Co-President (along with the re-elected Pier Ferdinando Casini
) of the Centrist Democratic International
at its leader's meeting in Rome
. The CDI is the international organization of political parties that counts Fox's party, the National Action Party
, as a member.
In October 2007, an announcement was made in the municipality of Boca del Río, Veracruz, that a 3 meter (10 ft) statue of Vicente Fox was to be erected to honor the former president. This aroused much criticism from the opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution and Mexican media towards Boca del Río's mayor, who is affiliated with the National Action Party, of which Fox is also a member.
The statue was put in place amidst protests on the dawn of October 13, 2007. The inauguration was to have been held on October 14, 2007. Some hours after the installation, however, a crowd of about 100 people brought the statue down with a rope, damaging it. The statue was later put back in place for the inauguration, then taken away for repairs.
PAN members accused Veracruz's governor, Fidel Herrera Beltrán, of ordering the attack on the statue, while Fox called him "intolerant." Some sources in the media considered that the installation of the statue was inappropriate, since former President Fox was facing allegations relating to an illicit enrichment scandal.
Many of the protesters were members of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which governed Mexico for much of the 20th century, until Fox (of the conservative National Action Party [PAN]) won the 2000 presidential election, ousting the PRI from power.
Illicit enrichment accusations
After the publication of an interview with pictures Fox's ranch on social magazine Quién
, criticism of Fox's wealth increase during his administration spiked. Later into 2007 accusations formalized into a congressional investigation with Lino Korrodi
's evidence at the center. No results have been produced from the investigation.