Vicente Fox was born in Mexico City on July 2, 1942, the second of nine children, fruit of the marriage between José Luis Fox, a farmer by trade, and Doña Mercedes Quesada.
Whilst he was still a child, he and his family moved to the San Cristóbal ranch in the state of Guanajuato municipality of San Francisco del Rincón, where he would have the opportunity to live and play alongside the children of the local communal farmers, to share his childhood with them and, in his own words, see for himself “one of the avoidable ills of our country: poverty.”
Vicente Fox is someone who is amiable, respectful, unpretentious, and honest; a man whose life on the ranch has taught him to value people’s loyalty and to appreciate the huge potential Mexico has to be triumphant.
As he himself has commented on many an occasion throughout his life, “I know the value of opportunity. I grew up on a communal farm alongside the children of farmworkers and the only difference between me and my friends from childhood are the opportunities that I have been lucky enough to have.”
A graduate of Iberoamericana University, where he gained a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at their campus in Mexico City, Vicente Fox recalls how at that time his provincial “cowboy” image was in sharp contrast to that of his classmates.
He subsequently took a diploma course in Senior Management taught by professors of Harvard Business School.
In 1964, he joined the firm Coca-Cola de México as a Route Supervisor. From aboard his delivery truck, he had the opportunity to get to know virtually every nook and cranny of the country. His performance in his work allowed him to rise up through the ranks, until he eventually became regional CEO of the company for Mexico and Latin America, the youngest person to hold such a position in the firm.
With the experience he acquired, he decided to return to Guanajuato to become actively involved in the state’s business, political, social, and educational spheres, and to help contribute to its overall improvement.
As a businessman and as a politician, Vicente Fox Quesada has always strived in his pursuit of the common good and equal opportunities.
As a loving father, he has shared the joy of his work and home life with his four adopted children, Ana Cristina, Vicente, Paulina, and Rodrigo.
He is a founder and former president of the Casa Cuna Amigo Daniel children’s home trust, an institution at which many children receive the care and attention they need. He is also a former president of the Loyola trust, whose purpose is to promote the Iberoamericana University’s León campus and the Instituto Lux, a school at which so many in Guanajuato have received their education.
He has served as an advisor to the Mexican-American Chamber of Commerce and as Director of Grupo Fox, a group of companies engaged in the various branches of agriculture, livestock farming, agribusiness, footwear production and the manufacture of cowboy boots for export, and one which helps generate a wide range of job opportunities.
In the 1980s, he joined the National Action Party (PAN), inspired to do so by Manuel J. Clouthier, a man he describes as his political godfather.
In 1988, he was elected Federal Representative for the Third District of the city of León, Guanajuato. Whilst a member of Congress, his efforts were particularly focused on matters relating to agriculture and the livestock industry. During this period, he wrote widely for a diverse range of national and regional newspapers.
In 1991, he ran for governor in the state of Guanajuato. In 1995, he ran again, this time in a special election for governor, which he won by a significant majority.
During his administration, the transparency he advocated meant he was fully accountable, both in terms of state finances and of his own personal wealth. He succeeded in turning the state of Guanajuato into the fifth most important economy in Mexico. Having achieved such excellent results during his administration, he was chosen as the official nominee of the Alliance for Change (an alliance between his own PAN party and Mexico’s green party, the PVEM) in the country’s presidential elections in the year 2000.
In his autobiography “Vicente Fox a Los Pinos” (Mexico, Océano, 2000), he describes his political philosophy and his immense passion for Mexico.
On July 2, Vicente Fox was victorious in the presidential election and that same day declared his commitment to “…form a government that is plural, honest, and capable; a government that includes the very best of the country’s citizens.” His election marked the end of a period of over 70 years during which every single president of Mexico had been a militant of the country’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (the PRI). As such, he was the first president in the country’s transition to democracy to come from the ranks of the opposition.
In his inaugural address to the nation on December 1 of that year, the President of all Mexicans, Vicente Fox Quesada, undertook to “continue to build a giving country.”
On July 2, 2001, exactly one year after his election victory, a major event took place at the President’s official residence of Los Pinos: the civil wedding ceremony of Mr. Vicente Fox Quesada, President of the United Mexican States, to Ms. Marta Sahagún Jiménez. It was a day that not only marked the first anniversary of Mexico’s democratic change and the first day of his marriage, but also his 59th birthday.
Today, there is a new Mexico. Day after day, Vicente Fox worked tirelessly in his efforts to fulfill the promise he made in his inaugural address: “I am, and shall remain, thoroughly committed to continuing the efforts of this great nation; to working passionately for those who have bequeathed us our homeland, for those who have built the Mexico we have today, and for those who have ever dreamed of a different, a successful, and a triumphant Mexico.”
His most positive legacy in terms of macroeconomic results was the reduction of inflation to a minimum, a virtually fully balanced budget, the strengthening of the peso, the effective management of the country’s foreign debt, and a historically low country-risk ranking, with foreign reserves at an all-time high of approximately 73 billion dollars.
Never in our country’s history had such energetic efforts been made in the war on poverty, in the promotion of equality and to ensure equal opportunities, through a comprehensive policy aimed at doing just that. The officially-named “Opportunities” strategy enabled social development programs to reach families in the country’s most far-flung communities and regions on a scale never seen before.
Thanks to the recognition it received from the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the example set by the “Opportunities” program has been copied in over 30 countries.
Following his presidential term (2000–2006), and for the first time in Mexico’s history, the now former president chose to remain in the public eye after leaving office and to speak openly and without censorship of his experience as head of state. In his book Revolution of Hope” (US, Viking Adult, 2007), Vicente Fox describes the road that led him to the office of the President, the history of his family, the root and foundation of the values that motivate his actions, and the gamut of experiences that led to his transformation from businessman to head of state.
Today he lives on the ranch his grandfather purchased a century ago. The two-hundred-year old Ex-Hacienda of San Cristóbal is now home to a study center, library, and museum, all of which bear his name. Centro Fox, as it is better known, is a forum for thought and ideas, and is also home to Fundación Vamos México (the Let’s Go Mexico Foundation), an organization led by his wife, Marta Sahagún, which works to help end poverty.
Today both continue fighting for Mexico and to make a difference, however small, so as to improve and one day overcome the shameful conditions people in various parts of our country and in Latin America endure every day.
Today Vicente Fox continues to ride his horse like Don Quixote in search of new goals. For it is his abiding belief that whoever ceases to grow will begin to die; that whoever ceases to be active will be swept away by the tide and by their opponents; and that whoever wavers will lose sight of the path to success.
In his travels along the path he continues to walk, Vicente Fox has been officially recognized for his work on many occasions, including the following honorary degrees he has been awarded in the Americas and Europe:
- Honorary doctorate from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, March 2002
- Honorary Doctor of Laws from Emory University, May 11, 2009
- Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California, May 2009
- Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from the International School of Law of IMADEC University, Vienna, Austria, 2011
- Honorary Doctor of Laws from the Faculty of Laws of University of the Pacific, Stockton, California, May 2011
- Doctor Honoris Causa from the Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago (UTESA), Santiago de Caballeros, the Dominican Republic, February 2011
He is a member of Club de Madrid, an independent non-profit organization made up of 81 ex-heads of state and former leaders of democratic governments.
If there is a road that Vicente Fox has chosen to follow in his life, it is, without a doubt, one that leads to the consolidation of democracy and leadership in Mexico and Latin America.