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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 18:29 GMT 19:29 UK
Profile: Vicente Fox
By Kate Milner
BBC News Online

President Fox with street children in Mexico
President Fox is not afraid to stand out
The Mexican President, Vicente Fox, is a former Coca Cola manager and state governor, known for his cowboy image and brash style.

He was elected in 2000, ending more than 70 years of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

Before becoming president, he was a successful businessman and during the election campaign proved himself to be natural campaigner, who gained popularity in the polls as the National Action Party candidate.

VICENTE FOX
Born: 2 July 1942, Leon, Guanajuato
Education: Business studies, Mexico City and Harvard
Experience: Governor of Guanajuato and former Coca Cola executive
Image: Man of the people, casual clothes
Policies: 'Third way' style of politics, favours market-driven economy guided by the state

But his critics say he is a personality, not a politician.

"Fox is 90% image and 10% ideas," says Javier Trevino, adviser to a political rival.

He can be controversial. During the 2000 electoral campaign, he called his PRI rival a "sissy" and a transvestite, and was accused of flaunting his Catholicism when he used a banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's most sacred religious symbol, during a political rally. He stopped using the banner.

He was also criticised at the time for his idea of privatising Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), considered by many Mexicans as a symbol of their sovereignty.

With an eye on public opinion, he reversed his stance.

Self-promotion

Mr Fox, 60, knows all about brand image - as a Coca Cola boss he ousted Pepsi as Mexico's top-selling soft drink.

Now he promotes himself as a down-to-earth man of the people.

He rarely wears suits, favouring open-necked shirts, T-shirts and cowboy boots. He also wears a cowboy belt, with a huge buckle bearing his name.

And at six foot five (1.9 metres), he easily stands out in a crowd.

Describing himself as an admirer of US President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr Fox defends a "Third Way" style of politics, a softer brand of capitalism.

He says he wants the state to play a role in guiding a market-driven economy.

In one interview he said he wanted Mexico to be a country "where security and justice prevail, where no one is above the law... and where every family will have abundant food on the table of its home."

Farmer turned businessman

Before becoming president, Mr Fox, the son of a wealthy farmer in the rural state of Guanajuato, managed a 450-hectare (1,220-acre) ranch in the state, where he raised cattle and ostriches, and grew vegetables for export to Europe, Japan and the United States.

Divorced, with four adopted children, Mr Fox made much of his agricultural roots during the 2000 election campaign, saying he was the only candidate to have ever milked a cow.

He studied business administration and management at Mexico City's Jesuit-run Ibero-American University and at Harvard, joining Coca Cola in 1964 as a route supervisor.

Over the next 15 years, he climbed the corporate ladder to become president for Mexico and Central America.

He was elected to Congress in 1988, ran for the post of governor of Guanajuato in 1991, and won by a landslide victory on his second attempt in 1995.




SEE ALSO:
President pledges Mexico quake aid
23 Jan 03  |  Americas
Mexico president admits failures
02 Sep 02  |  Americas
Mexico's Fox names key ministers
23 Nov 00  |  Americas
All change in Mexico
30 Sep 00  |  From Our Own Correspondent
End of an era for Mexico
03 Jul 00  |  Americas
Timeline: Mexico
11 Mar 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Mexico
30 May 03  |  Country profiles


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