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The Dr. Arne S. Jensen Lecture Series and
Western Oregon University present:

Vicente Fox

President of Mexico, 2000-2006
October 20, 2011

A charismatic reformer and visionary leader with a deep understanding of the economic and social challenges facing Latin America, President Fox is one of the world's most important voices on the contemporary geo-political landscape and the role of business in the developing world.

When elected to the presidency of Mexico in 2000, Vicente Fox broke the stranglehold that the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party had held on the State for seven decades. A charismatic reformer, Fox is credited as playing a vital role in Mexico's democratization, and with strengthening the country's economy. During his tenure, Fox succeeded in controlling inflation and interest rates, and in achieving the lowest unemployment rate in all of Latin America.

Originally from Mexico City, Vicente Fox was born on July 2, 1942, the second of nine children born to José Luis Fox, a farmer, and Mercedes Quesada. When Vicente Fox was just a few days old, the Fox family moved to the San Cristóbal Ranch in the municipality of San Francisco del Rincón, in Guanajuato state.

While living at San Cristóbal, he came into contact with the children of ejido owners, and took part in their games and other mischief. Thus, he tells us that he was able to gain firsthand experience of one of the problems that could be avoided in Mexico: poverty.

President Fox is a pleasant, respectful, simple and honest person who, due to his experience of life on the ranch, has learned to value the loyalty of everyday people, and to appreciate Mexico's enormous potential to become one of the world's leading nations. For this reason, he often says, "I fully understand the value of opportunities. I grew up on an ejido with peasant children and the only difference between myself and my childhood friends lies in the opportunities I received."

Vicente Fox has shared the happiness of his home and work with his four children, Ana Cristina, Vicente, Paulina and Rodrigo, all of whom were adopted. Likewise, he has also risen to the challenge posed by devoting himself to the service of his fellow countrymen. The Fox family has always been united, in both the good and bad times.

He studied business administration at the Universidad Iberoamericana; he recalls his provincial, "ranchstyle" appearance and how it contrasted with that of his classmates. He then pursued a top management diploma at the Harvard Business School.

In 1964, Vicente Fox joined Coca-Cola de México as a route supervisor and, while riding aboard a delivery truck, he had the opportunity of traveling almost 2,500 routes, some of which led to most isolated places in Mexico. Thus, Vicente says: "Mexico, that magical place chosen for its sun, moon, oceans and volcanoes, where the descendants of the original settlers could live in harmony. Due to its color and flavor, culture and natural wealth, beauty and passion, Mexico is one of the world's unique places."

This experience and his constant contact with everyday people led him to develop an understanding of adverse situations and, upon returning to Guanajuato, he decided to participate in business, political, social and educational spheres.

Whether as a business leader or politician, President Fox has always sought the common good, and has constantly given his support to Mexico's people. He was president and founder of the Amigo Daniel Children's Home Foundation, an institution where many children receive attention and affection; President of the Loyola Foundation; a promoter of the León campus of the Universidad Iberoamericana, and of the Lux Institute, an educational center where thousands of state residents have received training.

As part of his constant efforts to continue his personal growth and as a means of applying his business knowledge to benefit his fellow countrymen, Vicente Fox has been a Counselor of the Mexico-American Chamber of Commerce. Likewise, as Director of Grupo Fox, he has managed companies operating in the areas of agriculture, livestock breeding, agro-industry and the production of shoes and boots for export; all of these activities have generated sources of employment.

During the 1980's, President Fox began his political career by joining the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN). He was greatly encouraged by Manuel J. Clouthier, better known as Maquio, who invited President Fox to work with him and, in this way, "make the aspiration of creating a different and better Mexico for our children a reality."

Vicente Fox's political career has been a swift, upward climb. He has been Federal Congressmen for the Third District of León and Secretary of Agriculture in the opposition cabinet formed by Maquio to give follow-up to government policies. From this time on, he also began to write political articles in national and state newspapers.

In 1991, he ran for governor of the state of Guanajuato; nonetheless, Carlos Medina Plascencia was named Interim Governor in his place. In 1995, he participated in the extraordinary election for the governorship of Guanajuato, and was elected by an overwhelming majority of two votes to one (1995-1999).

As state governor, Vicente Fox strove to promote economic development by encouraging the private sector, foreign investment and, above all the consolidation of small firms. Thus, in order to open up new markets, he promoted the sale of goods manufactured in Guanajuato overseas. He improved and broadened the state's economic infrastructure so as to attract domestic and foreign investment, and also created a unique system in which micro-credits with no overdue portfolio were granted. Under his leadership, Guanajuato became the fifth most important Mexican state economy and, in certain productive sectors, even surpassed the national average. Vicente Fox was one of the first state governors to give a clear, public and timely account of the finances of Guanajuato state and of his personal patrimony.

On the basis of this good governance, on July 6, 1997, and motivated by the words of a great contemporary Mexican historian and thinker who said, "Vicente, you may well be a motor of change, but do not forget the train of history", Vicente Fox announced his intention to stand as a pre-candidate of the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) to the Presidency of the Republic.

Vicente Fox has a great commitment to Mexico and to his desire to continue working to attain a better life for all. Thus, he constantly travels the country and speaks to different sectors of Mexican society. In his speeches, he always remarks: "I've set my heart and all my strength and determination to overcoming this challenge, and I wish this to be clearly understood. I will uphold my commitment until the very end."

On July 2, 2000, Vicente Fox won the elections and became Mexico's President and served until 2006. In his first message, he stated: "I will undertake to form a plural, honest and capable government. A government that incorporates our country's very best citizens. I, Vicente Fox, give my word as a free and honest Mexican, I give my word to the nation and to history that I will do everything in my power to achieve a better future, without limits or reluctance, and with true love and passion."

Keynote address:

Bringing the new economy to Latin America: In this address, President Fox discusses his businesses-centered approach to the development of Mexico, the future of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the opportunities available for international corporations in the region. A critic of the populist movements sweeping Central and South America, President Fox offers an alternative that should be heard by everyone concerned with the future of the hemisphere.

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