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Vincente Fox: 1942—: Politician; Businessman

Challenged Mexico's Ruling Party

In 1979 Fox was faced with a difficult choice: he was offered the lead position of the Latin American division of Coca-Cola. Accepting the position, however, required relocating to the corporate headquarters in Miami. He opted to leave Coco-Cola and help his brothers manage Grupo Fox, the family farm. The farm exported frozen broccoli and cauliflower to the United States and cowboy boots to Europe.

The brothers, however, discovered that building a profitable business in a volatile economy was difficult. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect on January 1, 1994, and Mexico experienced a banking crisis the same year. These changes, along with currency devaluations, opened a gulf between large corporations and small businesses: corporations were able to avoid economic fluctuations by trading in U.S. dollars while small businesses were tied to the unstable peso. "Every micro, small and medium sized entrepeneur (sic) in this country is a hero for surviving, growing and exporting under these circumstances," Fox told Dillon. "I' m not embarrassed to say the businesses of the [Grupo Fox] are still highly leveraged, because that's the situation of all Mexican businesses."

Fox did not plan on going into politics. In fact, many in Mexico consider politicians corrupt and dishonorable. "I never, ever, thought I'd be in politics, " he told Dillon. "My father told us that nothing would offend him more, because only thieves and crooks go into politics here." But his many frustrations over the negative impact government policy had on small businesses led Fox to change his mind, and in 1988 he joined the National Action Party (PAN), a conservative party that was pro-Catholic and pro-business. That same year, Fox won a seat on the legislature, but was defeated in a disputed 1991 bid for the governorship of the Guanajuato district.

Fox ran for the governorship again in 1995 and won. "… [T]he voters of Guanajuato elected Vincente Fox governor by a two-to-one landslide," wrote Reding, "the greatest margin ever for an opposition politician in a Mexican gubernatorial election." Fox made no secret of his plans to run for the office of president in 2000. "I am going to hire a governor," he told Tim Golden of the New York Times. "I'm going to be a politician."

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Trevor Edwards Biography - Accepted Wisdom from His Mother to Francisco Franco (1892–1975) BiographyVincente Fox: 1942—: Politician; Businessman Biography - Born Into Privilege, Challenged Mexico's Ruling Party, Launched Presidential Campaign, Attempted To Enact Reforms