Last week, Vicente Fox, the former president of Mexico, visited UTD to give a talk about his book, “Let’s Move On: Beyond Fear & False Prophets.” An interesting title that fits perfectly with him: a false prophet, who criticizes the American president while he played the same position in Mexico without being any better. In this article, I want to state who is Vicente Fox, the corruption charges he is involved in, the harmful inheritance of his administration that is reflected in the actual economic and social crisis of Mexico and why we should listen to voices that really represent the immigrant community.
Fox is not the best example of how a president should defend the interests of his population. According to Konkret Media, on May 3-4, 2006, Vicente Fox ordered the repression against the movement in Atenco, when the residents of this region were fighting to defend their lands from the construction of a new airport. Enrique Pena Nieto, the former governor of the State of Mexico and current president of Mexico, also ordered this violent repression, resulting in two murders and more than 240 people assaulted and arrested. Sexual abuse and torture occurred in detention centers and police vans. In 2017, 11 women brought the Mexican government before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for this case, one of the darkest episodes in both politicians’ careers.
Mexico has a questionable democracy. As stated by the BBC UK, for 71 years, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ruled the country using whatever means necessary, in a period described as “the perfect dictatorship.” According to The Washington Post, the PRI era ended when Vicente Fox, from the National Action Party (PAN), was elected in 2000, and after his promises to make Mexico less corrupt, Mexicans expected a transition. This change was never effective, and the corruption evolved during the PAN’s regime. As stated by The Guardian, Mexico dropped from 51 in 2001 to 105 in 2012 out of 176 countries in the Transparency International’s global corruption report. This is an important number that shows the null actions of Fox and his successor towards pre-existing corruption.
According to Aristegui, since 2007, the Attorney’s General Office of the Republic (PGR) started an investigation after finding 27 million pesos that Fox did not declare while he was a president. Fox also received several gifts after being president. For example, he and his family obtained the shares of a transportation company for free. After he became a partner, the number of contracts this company had with the government increased by 13 times. In my opinion, these investigations demonstrate how Fox preferred to work for his own benefit instead of working for Mexicans.
In Guanajuato, Fox founded a museum in his honor, Centro Fox, while his wife has a foundation called Vamos Mexico. According to Aristegui, both have received 553 millions of pesos in donations. In 2012, Outram Investments Limited, a British company that reported a capital of 2 sterling pounds, made a donation of $200,000, as stated by Aristegui. I consider that Fox should be prosecuted for receiving donations from a phantom company.
A highlight of Fox’s period heritage in Mexico is the growth of the Cartel de Sinaloa, and the resulting “war on drugs.” This violent episode started after the drug lord El Chapo Guzman escaped from a high security prison. According to Anabel Hernandez’s investigation, reported by The Guardian, in 2001 at the very beginning of Fox’s period, Guzman did not escape from a high-security prison in a laundry car, as the official version declares. Instead, he escaped walking free in a police uniform. The “war on drugs” is one of the most violent periods in Mexico, currently driving the migration of Mexicans who are affected by the proliferation of violence and drug cartels.
But the “war on drugs” was not the only wave of violence that emerged after Fox ruled Mexico; as stated by The Conversation, Fox decided not to prosecute corrupt governors from the PRI because he required the PRI’s votes in Congress to run his agenda, resulting in what is called “the most corrupt generation of state governors.” According to The New York Times, Tomas Yarrington, who was a governor of Tamaulipas during Fox’s presidency, faces charges in both Mexico and the United States for taking bribes from drug cartels. He allowed them to operate freely and continue spreading their violence in the region.
In summary, Vicente Fox is not a good example of how to rule a country. He violently repressed his people, he continued the well-known institutional corruption in Mexico, he made it evolve into a violent “war on drugs” and he allowed corruption to proliferate in several states. All these situations are deep problems that drive the migration of Mexicans to pursue better opportunities that were not available in Mexico.
Unfortunately, Vicente Fox is listened to as a hero in the United States because of his declarations against President Trump, while in Mexico, he inherited a turbid future to my generation. How is it possible that Vicente Fox, who had the opportunity to lead Mexico, comes to the United States to defend the migration he created with his unwise government? Fox expressed his lack of seriousness at UTD when he said he “would also build a wall” to prevent people under DACA to come back to Mexico. As a Mexican, I ask: Are these the solutions expected from someone who ruled the country where we don’t find opportunities? Is this the type of leader we should listen to at UTD to defend minorities?
Vicente Fox doesn’t represent the voices that need to be heard. Let´s give a space to immigrants and victims of violence in Latin America. Those who left their countries and now face difficulties under Trump’s presidency are the ones who should be listened to by our community at UTD. Their experiences would allow us to understand the problems that affect our societies in both sides of the border and create active solutions to support our people in the Americas.