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Ernesto Zedillo


In office
1 December 1994 – 30 November 2000
Preceded by Carlos Salinas de Gortari
Succeeded by Vicente Fox

In office
1992 – 1993
Preceded by Manuel Bartlett
Succeeded by Fernando Solana

Born 27 December 1951 (1951-12-27) (age 58)
Mexico City, Mexico
Political party Institutional Revolutionary Party
Spouse(s) Nilda Patricia Velasco
Religion Roman Catholic

Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León (born December 27, 1951) is a Mexican economist and politician. He served as President of Mexico from December 1, 1994 to November 30, 2000, as the last of the uninterrupted seventy year line of Mexican presidents from the National Revolutionary Party to the Institutional Revolutionary Party. Since the ending of his term as president in 2000, Zedillo has been a leading voice on globalization, especially its impact on relations between developed and developing nations.

He is currently Director of the Center for the Study of Globalization at Yale University.

Contents

Early life and education

Ernesto Zedillo was born on December 27, 1951 in Mexico City. His parents were Rodolfo Zedillo Castillo, a mechanic, and Martha Alicia Ponce de León. Seeking better job and education opportunities for his children, his parents moved to Mexicali, Baja California.

His humble origins made him appreciate the idea of progress and self improvement, even though he was well aware of the few opportunities he had for this. Zedillo was educated in public schools in Mexicali where he was recognized as an excellent student. During his adolescence, young Ernesto actively participated in school events, such as alumni societies and head of the school newspaper.

In 1965, at the age of 14, he returned to Mexico City. In 1969 he entered the National Polytechnic Institute, financing his studies by working in the National Army and Navy Bank (nowadays Banjercito). He graduated as an Economist in 1972 and began lecturing. It was among his first group of students where he met his wife, Nilda Patricia Velasco with whom he has 5 children: Ernesto, Emiliano, Carlos, Nilda Patricia and Rodrigo.

In 1974 he pursued his master's and Ph.D. studies at Yale University. His doctoral thesis was titled: "Mexico's public external debt: recent history and future growth related to oil".

Political career

Zedillo began working in the Bank of Mexico (Mexico's central bank), as a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, where he supported the adoption of macroeconomic policies for the country's improvement. By 1987 he was named under-secretary of Planning and Budget Control in the Secretariat of Budget and Planning. In 1988 at the age of thirty-six he headed that secretariat. During his term as Secretary, Zedillo launched a Science and Technology reformation.

In 1992 he was appointed Secretary of Education by president Carlos Salinas, a year later he resigned to run the electoral campaign of Luis Donaldo Colosio, the PRI's presidential candidate.

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1994 presidential campaign

Ernesto Zedillo, president 1994–2000

In 1994 after Colosio's assassination, Zedillo became one of the few PRI members eligible under Mexican law to take his place, since he had not occupied public office for some time.

The opposition blamed Colosio's murder on Salinas. Although the PRI's presidential candidates were always chosen by the current president, and thus Colosio had originally been Salinas' candidate, their political relationship had been affected by a famous speech during the campaign in which Colosio said that Mexico had many problems. It is also notable that the assassination took place after Colosio visited the members of the Zapatista movement in Chiapas and promised to open dialogue, something the PRI opposed.

After Colosio's murder, this speech was seen as the main cause of his break with the president. The choice of Zedillo was interpreted as Salinas' way of bypassing the strong Mexican political tradition of non-reelection and retaining real power, since Zedillo was not really a politician, but an economist (like Salinas), who clearly lacked the president's political talent and influence. It is unclear if Salinas had attempted to control Colosio, who was generally considered at that time to be a far better candidate.

Zedillo contested against Diego Fernández de Cevallos and second-timer Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas of the National Action Party and Party of the Democratic Revolution respectively. He won by 48.69% of popular vote, some 17,181,651, and at the time this was the cleanest election in the country's history.

Presidency

Zedillo at the World Economic Forum 2009

A few days after taking office, one of the biggest economic crisis in Mexican history hit the country. Although it was outgoing president Salinas who was mainly blamed for the crisis, Salinas claimed that president Zedillo made a mistake by changing the economic policies held by his administration. The crisis ended after a series of reforms and actions led by Zedillo. US president Bill Clinton granted a $50 billion loan to Mexico, which helped in one of Zedillo's initiatives to rescue the banking system.

At first Zedillo was regarded by many as a puppet-president but any rumors of obedience to Salinas finished when Raúl Salinas, the "inconvenient brother" of the former president was convicted of murder.

His political motto was Bienestar para tu familia. His most lasting act of government was the creation of Progresa, a poverty-fighting program based on subsidizing the poorest families provided their children go to school, later renamed Oportunidades by president Vicente Fox.

Zedillo's administration was unable to resolve the EZLN uprising in Chiapas, which lasted until Vicente Fox came to power. Two massacres took place during the presidency of Zedillo: Aguas Blancas and Acteal. It was strongly suspected that top officers within Zedillo's cabinet (but not Zedillo himself) were involved, but none of them were ever indicted.

In 2000 Zedillo recognized the electoral victory of opposition candidate Vicente Fox before midnight on election day, paving the way for what seemed an unlikely change of power. For this reason some PRI members consider him a traitor, despite an 11 points advantage for PAN, claiming that the election was too close to admit defeat so soon and that, in any event, the concession should have come from the PRI's candidate, Francisco Labastida, and not Zedillo.

Post-presidency

Ernesto Zedillo with Edmund Phelps, winner of the 2006 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, at the World Economic Forum's Summit on the Global Agenda 2008.

After leaving office, Zedillo has held many jobs as an economic consultant in many international companies and organizations.

Zedillo currently works at Yale University in the United States, where he teaches economics and heads the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. He is an advisory board member of the Millstein Center for Corporate Governance and Performance at the Yale School of Management. In 2005 he became a member of the influential Washington-based financial advisory body, the Group of Thirty. He serves on the board of advisors for Stonebridge International[1]. He is also a member of the board of directors of Procter & Gamble, Alcoa, the Global Development Network (GDN) and Electronic Data Systems. Dr. Zedillo is also a member of the Coca-Cola Company International Advisory Board. Union Pacific owns some of the railroads that Zedillo privatized during his presidency in Mexico. Dr. Zedillo now serves as a Director of Union Pacific Corporation.

Among his other post-presidency activities, Zedillo is a member of the editorial board of Americas Quarterly, a policy journal that explores relations and development in the Western Hemisphere. He is also a member of the Club of Madrid.

See also

References

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Luis Donaldo Colosio
(assassinated)
PRI presidential candidate
1994 (won)
Succeeded by
Francisco Labastida

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