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Vicente Fox
Vicente Fox Official Photo 2000 (Cropped).jpg
Official portrait, 2000
62nd President of Mexico
In office
1 December 2000 – 30 November 2006
Preceded by Ernesto Zedillo
Succeeded by Felipe Calderón
Governor of Guanajuato
In office
26 June 1995 – 7 August 1999
Preceded by Carlos Medina Plascencia
Succeeded by Ramón Martín Huerta
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
for Guanajuato's 3rd district
In office
1 September 1988 – 31 August 1991
Preceded by Héctor Hugo Varela Flores
Succeeded by Luis Arturo Torres del Valle
Co–President of Centrist Democrat International
Assumed office
1 December 2006
Preceded by Pier Ferdinando Casini
Personal details
Vicente Fox Quesada

(1942-07-02) 2 July 1942 (age 81)
Mexico City, Mexico
Political party Independent (since 2013)
National Action Party (before 2013)
Lilian de la Concha
(m. 1969; div. 1990)
(m. 2001)
Children Ana Cristina Fox
Rodrigo Fox
Paulina Fox
Vicente Fox Jr.
Parents José Luis Fox
Mercedes Quesada
Education Universidad Iberoamericana (BBA)
Harvard University
Occupation Businessman, politician

Vicente Fox Quesada (Latin American Spanish: [biˈsente ˈfoks keˈsaða]; born 2 July 1942) is a Mexican businessman and politician who served as the 62nd president of Mexico from 1 December 2000 to 30 November 2006. After campaigning as a right-wing populist, Fox was elected president on the National Action Party (PAN) ticket in the 2000 election. He became the first president not from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) since 1929, and the first elected from an opposition party since Francisco I. Madero in 1911. Fox won the election with 43 percent of the vote.

As president, he continued the neoliberal economic policies his predecessors from the PRI had adopted since the 1980s. The first half of his administration saw a further shift of the federal government to the right, strong relations with the United States and George W. Bush, unsuccessful attempts to introduce a value-added tax to medicines and build an airport in Texcoco, and a diplomatic conflict with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. The murder of human rights lawyer Digna Ochoa in 2001 called into question the Fox administration's commitment to breaking with the authoritarian past of the PRI era.

The second half of his administration was marked by his conflict with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Mayor of Mexico City. The PAN and Fox administration unsuccessfully attempted to remove López Obrador from office and prevent him from participating in the 2006 presidential elections. The Fox administration also became embroiled with diplomatic conflicts with Venezuela and Bolivia after supporting the creation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, which was opposed by those two countries. His last year in office oversaw the controversial 2006 elections, where PAN candidate Felipe Calderón was declared winner by a narrow margin over López Obrador, who claimed the elections had been fraudulent and refused to recognize the results, calling for protests across the country. In the same year, there was civil unrest in Oaxaca, where a teacher's strike culminated into protests and violent clashes asking for the resignation of governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, and in the State of Mexico during the San Salvador Atenco riots, where the state and federal governments were later found guilty by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of human rights violations during the violent repression. On the other hand, Fox was credited with maintaining economic growth and reducing the poverty rate from 43.7% in 2000 to 35.6% in 2006.

After his presidency, Fox returned to his home state of Guanajuato. He has been involved in public speaking and the development of the Vicente Fox Center of Studies, Library and Museum. He is currently the co-president of the Centrist Democrat International, an international organization of centre-right political parties. Fox was expelled from the PAN in 2013, after having endorsed the PRI presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, in the 2012 elections. In the 2018 election, Fox endorsed the PRI candidate, José Antonio Meade.

Early years

Vicente Fox was born on 2 July 1942 in Mexico City, the second of nine children. His father, José Luis Fox Pont, was a native-born Mexican. His mother, Mercedes Quesada Etxaide, was a Basque immigrant from San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa, in Spain.

Fox spent his childhood and adolescence at the family ranch in San Francisco del Rincón in Guanajuato. Fox has polydactyly, having six toes on each foot.

He spent a year at Campion High School in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin where he learned English. Upon reaching college age, Fox moved to Mexico City to attend the Universidad Iberoamericana and received a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1964. Then in 1974, Fox received a certificate in management skills from Harvard Business School.

Business career

Vicente Fox WEF 2003 cropped 2
Vicente Fox

In 1964, Fox was hired by the Coca-Cola Company as a route supervisor and drove a delivery truck. After nine years, he had risen to the top, serving as the President and Chief Executive of Coca-Cola Mexico; after six years in this role, he was invited to lead all of Coca-Cola's operations in Latin America, but Fox declined and later resigned from Coca-Cola in 1979. It was during the Fox's leadership of Coca-Cola Mexico that Coke became Mexico's top-selling soft drink, increasing Coca-Cola's sales by almost 50%.

After retiring from Coca-Cola, 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 also the president of the Patronato Loyola, a sponsor of the León campus of the Universidad Iberoamericana and of the Lux Institute.

Family life

In 1969, Fox married Lilian de la Concha, a receptionist at Coca-Cola. They had four children, Ana Cristina, Vicente, Paulina and Rodrigo. In 1990, after 20 years of marriage, Lilian filed for and was granted a divorce.

Fox remarried on 2 July 2001, while serving as President of Mexico, to Marta María Sahagún Jiménez (until then his spokesperson). The wedding date was the first anniversary of his presidential election and his 59th birthday. For both Fox and Sahagún Jiménez, it was their second marriage.

Early political career

Vicente Fox Pemex
Vicente Fox Pemex

With the support of Manuel Clouthier, Vicente Fox joined the Partido Acción Nacional on 1 March 1988. That same year, he was elected to the federal Chamber of Deputies, representing the Third Federal District in León, Guanajuato.

Governor of Guanajuato

In 1991, after serving in the Chamber of Deputies, Fox sought the governorship in Guanajuato, but lost the election to Ramón Aguirre Velázquez of the PRI. Following the election, local discontent was so great that the state congress appointed Carlos Medina Plascencia of the PAN as interim governor. Four years later, Fox ran again, this time winning by a vote of 2 to 1. As governor, Fox promoted government efficiency and transparency. He was one of the first state governors of Mexico to give a clear, public and timely account of the finances of his state.

Fox also pushed for the consolidation of small firms, promoted the overseas sales of goods manufactured in Guanajuato, and created an extensive system of small loans to allow the poor to open a changarro (a small shop) and buy a car and a television. Under Fox, Guanajuato became the fifth most important Mexican state economy.

Campaign for president

Items from Fox's presidential campaign on display at the Museo del Objeto del Objeto.

On 7 July 1997, after the opposition parties first won a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, Vicente Fox decided to run for President of Mexico. In spite of opposition within his political 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 on 14 November 1999.

During the course of his campaign, a presidential debate was organized, but the three main contenders (Fox, Francisco Labastida of the PRI, and Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas of the PRD) disagreed on the details. One notable disagreement, which was broadcast on national television, was whether the presidential debate should be held that same day or on the following Friday.

During the nationally televised presidential debate, Fox's main opponent, Francisco Labastida, claimed that Fox had repeatedly called him a "sissy". Fox's campaign slogans were "¡Ya!" ("Right now!"), "Ya ganamos" ("We've already won"), and "Vota Alianza por el Cambio" ("Vote for Alliance for Change").

In addition to some debate controversies, Fox also faced some controversy due to Amigos de Fox (Friends of Fox), a nonprofit fundraising group established by Denise Montaño. The group was instrumental in getting Vicente Fox elected President of Mexico, and the phrase "Amigos de Fox" was used as a campaign slogan referring to the millions of people supporting Fox in the 2000 presidential election.

In 2003, money-laundering charges were lodged against Amigos de Fox, but were dropped shortly before the July 2003 midterm elections.

Election results

Gerhard Schroeder Vicente Fox
Gerhard Schröder in Los Pinos with President Fox.

On 2 July 2000, his 58th birthday, 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). Fox declared victory that same night, a victory that was ratified by then-President Zedillo. After the final results were announced, President-elect Fox addressed thousands of supporters and celebrated his victory with them at the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City. His opponents conceded the election later that night.

After securing the election, Fox received substantial media coverage, as well as numerous congratulatory messages and phone calls from world leaders, including then-President of the United States Bill Clinton. He took office on 1 December 2000, the first time since 1917 that an opposition candidate had taken power from the long-reigning Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)


Vicente Fox flag
Fox on July 30, 2005
See article Fox administration

Legacy and assessment

Presidents Bush and Fox

Although Fox's victory in the 2000 election and the end of seven decades of PRI rule raised great expectations of change among the Mexican people, his administration was criticized for failing to fulfill those expectations, as little progress was made in fighting corruption, crime, poverty, unemployment and inequality. Few key reforms were implemented during the Fox administration, which became characterised by a growing sense of power vacuum as Fox was increasingly perceived by Mexican society and political actors as a "lame duck" incapable of pushing the ambitious reform agenda that swept him into power in 2000. Alejandro Cacho points out that "Fox incarnated the hope of alternancy [...] and he managed to kick the PRI out of Los Pinos, but his government was a disappointment. Corruption persisted; in fact, his sons-in-law (the Bribiesca-Sahagún brothers) became rich quickly and without explanation. The economy wasn't much better than it had been under Ernesto Zedillo, the wages didn't increase significantly, neither did jobs. His "super cabinet" ["gabinetazo", as Fox himself referred to it] created more controversy than it did good results. His wife, Marta Sahagún, had a big influence in the presidential decisions".

Fox, Bush, Martin
Fox, Bush, and Martin

Having assumed office with an approval rating of 80%, by the time he left office in 2006 his public image had become exhausted by the controversial presidential elections of that year and the few reforms implemented.

In terms of the significance of Fox's presidency, historian Philip Russell asserts that, "Marketed on television, Fox made a far better candidate than he did president. He failed to take charge and provide cabinet leadership, failed to set priorities, and turned a blind eye to alliance building." Fox himself asserted in 2001 (one year into his administration) that he much preferred his experience as candidate than actually being president.

Russell also pointed to 2006 comments by political scientist Soledad Loaeza, who noted, "The eager candidate became a reluctant president who avoided tough choices and appeared hesitant and unable to hide the weariness caused by the responsibilities and constraints of the office." Russell also asserted that Fox "had little success in fighting crime. Even though he maintained the macroeconomic stability inherited from his predecessor, economic growth barely exceeded the rate of population increase. Similarly, the lack of fiscal reform left tax collection at a rate similar to that of Haiti . . . ." Finally, Russell noted that "during Fox's administration, only 1.4 million formal-sector jobs were created, leading to massive immigration to the United States and an explosive increase in informal employment." Ultimately, however, Russell concluded that Fox will be viewed by history as a transitional figure who was able to defeat one of Mexico's long-entrenched political parties.

In a national survey conducted in 2012 by BGC-Excelsior regarding former presidents, 32% of the respondents considered that the Fox administration was "very good" or "good", 25% responded that it was an "average" administration, and 42% responded that it was a "very bad" or "bad" administration.

Post-presidential life

Public speaking and advocacy

Since leaving office in December 2006, Fox has maintained himself in the public eye by speaking in countries such as Nigeria, Ireland, Canada, and the United States about topics such as the controversial 2006 election and the Iraq War. In Mexico, Fox has been criticized by some for his busy post-presidency since former Mexican presidents are traditionally expected to stay out of the political spotlight. In response, Fox has stated, "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."

Vicente Fox joined four other Latin American presidents at the One Young World Summit 2014 in Dublin, Ireland, to discuss the Telefónica Millennial Survey. He told those in the audience that eradicating corruption "has to start with education" and that his focus is now on promoting leadership.

Vicente Fox is a member of the Global Leadership Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that offers, discreetly and confidentially, a range of experienced advisors to political leaders facing difficult situations.

Fox with Felipe Calderón Hinojosa

In July 2017, Fox was an international observer to the unofficial Venezuelan referendum held by the opposition. During the trip, Fox gave a speech that compared the referendum to the 2000 Mexican elections. He said that "this battle has been won" and "step by step, vote by vote, the dictator will leave." He was subsequently declared a persona non grata by the Venezuelan government. The ban came from Maduro. Fox said he was not surprised by the ban and that the vote would weaken Maduro.

In 2018, Fox joined the High Times board of directors. He left the board in 2020 over concerns surrounding the company's stock offering.

He supports far-right candidate Javier Milei in 2023 Argentine general election.


Bush Fox Harper
Fox with US President George W. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in front of "El Castillo" in Chichén Itzá, March 2006

Fox's autobiography, entitled Revolution of Hope: The Life, Faith and Dreams of a Mexican President, was released in September 2007. 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 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 massive illegal immigration problem of Mexicans into 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, Marta Sahagún. After Fox explained the situation, he asked the interviewer not to make false accusations and to prove what he was saying.

Upon the book's release, some readers viewed several excerpts as being highly critical of U.S. President George W. Bush, considered by many to be a close friend. 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 and that 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 Fox offered him to ride.

Fox Center of Studies, Library and Museum

See: Vicente Fox Center of Studies, Library and Museum

On 12 January 2007, over a month after he left office, Fox announced the construction of a center of studies, library and museum that was labeled by the U.S. 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 Fox's home state of Guanajuato, in his home town of San Francisco del Rincón.

While museums are abundant throughout the country, there is nothing comparable to a presidential library where personal documents, records, and gifts amassed by the country's leader are open 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, a library in which 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 was expected by late 2007.

In 2015, Fox was interviewed by Peter High for Forbes at the library, which is called "Centro Fox" (the Fox Center). During the interview, Fox remarked that the guiding principle behind the library is that "[w]e are a Latin American center that is geared around ideas, leadership, and strategies. We do it through, number one, young kids. The middle-upper class and the rest have access to the best universities. But the broader constituency does not receive any messages or aspirations of happiness in life at home."

In addition to the library's completion, there has been some indications that Centro Fox was joining hands with UST Global to transform Mexico into a world-class technological economy. Fox stated in a press release that "UST Global is partnering Centro Fox to help accomplish nothing less than the transformation of my country into a world-class technology economy . . . . Together, we will establish Mexico at the forefront of the information technology revolution in the region." These efforts appear to be ongoing.

Centrist Democratic International

On 20 September 2007, Fox was elected co-president of the Centrist Democratic International (along with the re-elected Pier Ferdinando Casini) at its leaders' meeting in Rome. The CDI is the international organization of political parties that counts Fox's party, the National Action Party, as a member.


On 7 August 2021, it was reported and confirmed that Vicente Fox and his wife Martha Sahagún were preventively admitted to a hospital in León, Guanajuato after being infected with COVID-19 during the pandemic in Mexico, but without serious symptoms.


See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Vicente Fox para niños

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