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Who is Vicente Fox?

Vicente Fox is a unique figure in Mexican politics. He grew up in Guanajuato, a state in west-central Mexico, within a successful farming family. He spent a year as a high school student in the United States, where he perfected his English. After attending Jesuit-run schools in Mexico, including the Ibero- American University (he was the first president since 1929 to graduate from a religiously affiliated college), he became a salesman for Coca-Cola of Mexico. He gradually rose through the ranks of the company and was eventually named the chief executive officer. He became the first president to have held a significant corporate position and the first to have worked for an internationally affiliated firm. Fox developed a serious interest in politics during the 1988 election, when he ran for Congress and was a supporter of the National Action Party (PAN) presidential nominee, Manuel Clouthier, who shared many of Fox's personal and career credentials. Fox, who considers himself to have been a disciple of Clouthier, won a congressional seat.

In 1989, he ran on the PAN ticket for governor of his home state. After an election characterized by fraud and public protests, President Salinas intervened, designating another PAN politician as governor. Six years later, Fox ran again, winning the election. He used his years as governor to demonstrate his political skills and to achieve support among PAN partisans and political leaders as a potential presidential nominee for the 2000 election. Considered an outsider because he had little experience inside the party bureaucracy, Fox created his own organization, Amigos de Fox (Friends of Fox), to cultivate and attract independent as well as PAN voters to finance his race for the presidency. He won his party's nomination and defeated the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in the 2000 presidential election. In retrospect, Fox can be seen as a highly successful campaigner who was much more successful winning office than governing. He appealed directly to his popular constituency rather than mastering the intricacies of governing, leaving office with many of his major proposals unfulfilled.

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