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Vicente Fox

with Vicente Fox, the PAN candidate

On July 2nd, Mexico will hold historic elections. The competition is real, involving public debates by the candidates. You heard from the PRI candidate, Francisco Labastida, on March 24. Now is your opportunity to talk to Vicente Fox, the candidate of the National Action Party (PAN), who will appear LIVE online on March 28 at 2:00 p.m.. This is the first time in history that the Mexican presidential candidates have appeared live on washingtonpost.com to answer questions.

Fox will answer questions regarding: the election, the future of Mexico, political and economic reforms, corruption, the fight against crime, narcotrafficking, emigration, and U.S.-Mexican relations.

Vicente Fox was born in Mexico City. He studied Public administration at the Iberoamericana University, and received his Masters from Harvard University. He was employed by the Coca Cola Group, and was first elected to public office in 1988.

Spanish speakers can read the Spanish transcript.

Here is a transcript of today's discussion:

washingtonpost.com: Welcome to our discussion, Mr. Fox, and thank you so much for agreeing to answer questions from our readers. I'd like to begin by asking you what seems to be on many of the participants' minds: Will this election really be fair? Do you believe that if you win you'll be permitted to take office?

Vicente Fox: We have advanced considerably in the credibility of elecions in Mexico. But we are still far away from being able to accept publicly that elections are fair and equitable. We trust the electoral authority, the IFE. But we don´t trust one of the participants--we do not trust Zedillo, Labastida or PRI, who will still maneuver to stay in power. So we have defensive teams and actions to prevent irregularities, illegalities and immoralities. And we have our defensive team to build an advantage before election day of at least 5 electoral points to be on the safe side.

Montreal, Canada: Hello Mr. Fox, Hope you are doing fine today and not too nervous about delivering your strategic plan to make Mexico a better country for the Mexicans. My question is, how do you plan given the children a better future? How are you going to get them off the streets and put them in a school?

It is a very unpleasant to see these kids on the streets asking for money when their place should be in a class room learning, after all they are the future of Mexico.

Thank you in advance for answering my question.

Vicente Fox: You don´t get nervous when you do your homework. We have the best government plan, the best proposal and project. It has been tested in many fora where Mr. Labastida and myself have participated. 70% consider my proposal the best. We plan to increase education expenditure from 5% of GNP to a min. of 8%. We plan to create a national scholarship and finance system to support all kids so they can stay in school, specifically addressed to Indigenous kids, sons of campesinos and kids of the most humble families.

Mexico City: Siendo usted presidente, integraria su gabiente con gente de otros partidos? Dentro de su plataforma politica ha mencionado constantemente que se requiere un pais educado, cuales cree que son los cambios que se requiere hacer al plan de educacion -a nivel macro? Por que quiere ser Presidente de Mexico?

Vicente Fox: The cabinet will be integrated plurally on an open process, with rigorous selection of the very best of the best men and women available, Mexicans in Mexico or abroad. Talent, experience, delivery of results, honesty, accountability and moral fiber will be the key for this election. We will have priistas, panistas, perredistas, greens, but mainly citizens, it will be a citizens cabinet.

Washington, D.C.: What can be done to fight the corruption endemic in the Mexican legal system, particularly those sections relating to narcotics enforcement, and what course will a PAN government take in stopping what would likely be a violent response to such reforms?

Vicente Fox: One, a real democracy. With an accountable government. two, real autonomy of the branches of power, for checks and balances. Three, a presidency with ethic values and moral fiber, which we have not had, to assign responsibility of drug trafficking to the procuracy, which will need to be cleaned up and its head appointed by Congress and not by the executive branch. Fourth, limit and reduce the institution of the Fuero, which publicly investigates officials that have participated in drug trafficking. And fifth, a president with boots, with pants and with guts, ready to do the job.

Mexico City: ¿Qué lugar van a ocupar las mujeres profesionistas en tu gobierno? ¿crees que las mujeres pueden tener los mismos o mejores resultados que los hombres en cuanto a toma de decisiones se trata?

Vicente Fox: Creo que pueden aportar mejores resultados las mujeres por su claridad de visión, por su inteligencia y convicción de ideas. Crearemos el Instituto nacional de la mujer para ser promotor de espacios para la participación de la mujer para terminar con la discriminación, violencia y acoso sexual. Apoyaremos a toda mujer que sola está llevando la carga económica del hogar, sobre todo aquellas mujeres abandonadas por maridos irresponsables en el medio rural y colonias populares sin dejar recursos para los hijos. Pondremos abogados de oficio para que toda mujer defienda su circumstancia.

New York, NY:
The polls have shown you to be within strinking range of PRI candidate Labastida. However, evidence from the PRI's September primary seems to show that the ruling party's electoral machine still works quite well to bring out support for the "favored" candidate. Is your campaign organization prepared to meet this challenge?

Vicente Fox: That machinery did work against Madrazo, and it worked because there was no real opponent. Those primaries were simply a fake. Now they are facing the real opponent. They are facing a mature society and electorate that is ready to build up a successful Mexico in the 21st century, and an electorate that is ready for change, an electorate that will not buckle under.

Tijuana, B C: I am sure syou know all about the "killings" in Tijuana. And you know also it is said they are because of the drug cartels. ¿What are you going to do about it?

Vicente Fox: You should also know about the killings in Sinaloa, Guadalajara, Cd. Juarez, etc. It has become a cancer. Drug trafficking through Mexico, money laundering, and so we need effective action against this cancer, besides the ones I already mentioned in relation to violence and crime. We are inviting for cooperation the countries that produce, transit and consume, with a multinational force coordinating the effort. US certification has obtained no results. Mexico´s government acts for one month as if they are acting against drugs. But once certification is given, they go back to sleep. To me, this is hypocrisy, lack of committment. If we want to confront international crime and drugs, we have to speak the truth, put together this coordinating effort with specific efforts, and make sure all do their homework. US has to reduce its consumption, whose money is used to corrupt Mexico´s officials. Mexico has to make a real effort to meet these dark forces that have put our country in a weak position, esp. with our youth.

Mexico City: Sr. Fox, uno de los retos que enfrenta es convencer a la gente del campo y gente humilde que usted es la mejor opción. Qué les ofrece usted a ellos que sea diferente más allá de las promesas que han escuchado por años? Cómo apoyará a los braceros, que han buscando una vida mejor se sacrifican, para despues ser vejados y desvalijados a su regreso a México?

Vicente Fox: Tres areas para el campo. Una, modernización, tecnología, organización, mercados, precios, productividad, competitividad y calidad en la producción agropecuaria. Pero eso no es suficiente. 24% de la gente vive en el campo y del campo, pero solo generamos 6% del PIB, necesitamos otras fuentes de ingreso para la gente del campo. Segunda linea, generar empleos en todo el país, haciendo crecer la economía y poner prioridad de empleo en la zona rural. Poner incentivo para las inversiones. Proponemos una escepcion de impuestos sobre la renta a empresas que generen empleos en el sur del pais. Proponemos banca social, microcrédito y cajas de ahorrro para impulsar las micro, medianas industrias en el campo. Tercera linea, modificar la transferencia de ingresos de impuestos federales a los municipios, que es solo el 20%, para llevarla al 45% ya asi asegurar infraestructura como agua, drenaje, telefonía, salud y educación a todos sus niveles.

McLean, VA: I would like to hear any comments that you have regarding Mexico and energy policy, particularly concerning OPEC and oil prices.

Vicente Fox: In realation to oil prices, our position will be to look for healthy prices on oil which could range from 20 to 30 dollars per barrell, but at the same time, be very prudent and have soldarity because we need other economies to run well, because that will give us benefits in training, trading, investment and in economic development.

Mexico City: Hello Mr. Fox, I have been following your campaign closely. Something that I do not find, however, is your commitment towards ecology & creating a better environment in Mexico. I feel especially disappointed after your alliance to the Green Party. Not much has been disclosed so far. I do not seen the green party working actively in your campaign. Was this only a political move to gain voters, or is this a real commitment? What would be your first actions to improve the environment??


Vicente Fox: It is a real committment, an alliance of ideas and ideologies, a committment to Mexico´s natural resources. Actions as follows:

One, to make sure we put at the presidential level and natinal security, water and forests, because we have severe problems in these two resources, more important than oil. Two, we will not only make sure to decentralize but to transfer resources, budgets and capabilities to local governments, but to consider it a priority at the federal level. We are very aware of problems with polluted air, with polluted creeks, rivers, dams, lakes. Only 10% of waste water is treated in Mexico. We are aware of the need for water treatment plants, to modernize the water distribution net, wich is obsolete. We are losing 50% of water before it reaches homes and industries. 80% of all water for agriculture is also wasted. This awareness also faces the reality of lack of resources. So we are planning to put the financial engineering plan to make funds available for environmental purposes with subsidized interest rates, to be transfered directly to these programs in Mexico, since today the interest rates for environmental funds are the same for regular industry. We will put a srtong incentive for those who become ecologically clean--industries and institutions. In Guanajuato, we elevated the rank of the institution that dealth with ecological programs, we increased by 30 times the funds available. Guanajuato will reach also record irrigation programs. 51% of all waste waters in Guanajuato will be treated. Same kinds of programs we have for forestry and eroded land recovery.

Phoenix Arizona: Dear Mr. Fox. Why do you think the "FUGA DE CEREBROS" is taking place in Mexico, and what are your positions towards science and technology (edited for content)? A Mexican in USA.

Vicente Fox: It is very sad, not only kids from poor families that have to leave their home, 10 years old, to go on that difficult adventure North to find a job. Just as sad is our yount talent leaving the country for security reasons or the lack of opportunities. We will have specific programs to attract back all this talent, to contribute to Mexico´s well being and growth, and will work together with our paisanos in the US, to make sure their kids in Mexico will have opportunities they never had.

Corcoran, California:
Dear Sir, How does one appraoch reforming the corrupt government agents in Mexico inorder to provide social stability and economic growth? In your opinion what are some of the obstacles Mexico needs to overcome in order to profit from the internet economic boom propelling the Amercian Economy?

Vicente Fox: If I had to summarize our challenge, it would be, putting up to date the country and its institutions, to put them to the rhythm of the times in their political structures with full active participatory democracy, on the economy growing at 7% with sustainability, participating to benefit from globalization and modernizing human capital and R&D, institutions, science. This we will increase from 5 to 8% GNP on investment, using the Taiwanese model, which integrates all its efforts on R&D to launch national projects, to have guidance and to connect directly all this talent and capacities to the operating, productive economy and to the life of all of Mexico.

On the corruption, as I mentioned earlier, democracy by itself, once it is reached in Mexico, will generate accountability. But we still need other tools in a coutry where corruption is the culture. We will strengthen all the auditing and supervising activities, with the figure of teh Fuero.

Mexico City: Mr. Fox, I'm 22 years old and would like to ask you: What will Partido Accion Nacional do to avoid all the evil tactics of PRI to get votes, for example, in the last elections Partido Revolucionario Institucional took the names of the people who died as efective votes. The other example is the votes of all the Mexicans in USA. How can you avoid PRI-government's controlling the IFE results?? Congratulations Mr Fox, you are the hope of Mexico!!

Vicente Fox: The PRI is not controlling IFE. We trust IFE. But we need the support of all citizens against all those who are Mapaches, or alter the results of elections. This we have to do in Mexico, which you don´t in a real democracy. I mentioned earlier about our defensive teams.

The Mexicans in the US, the vote of Mexicans in the US, was not approved because of the PRI majority in the Senate. But against this negative, the response of the Mexicans in US has been positive. In California, Mexicans are gettig together not only to participate in elections, but are sending letters to their relatives here, and those that have an electoral license, they are coming back to vote. We are in close contact with these groups to be supportive. I will be visiting Chicago, California (Several counties), Houston and Dallas before the election.

Caracas, Venezuela: Que es lo que busca cambiar Vicente Fox, en la politica y vida de México, cual es su prioridad? En venezuela estamos sufriendo un cambio y lo asemejo mucho con el General Chavez, que opina de el?

Vicente Fox: No comparison, please!!!!!

We are seriously working on a nation´s project, and a project that has proven successful in the states governed by PAN. These states are the most successful, according to an independent study, growing. In these 7 states, 60% of all FDI goes there, even though they are only 18% or so of the population. We know how to govern, and we have the best team--100 million Mexicans ready to work to build a great nation, to grow at 7%, to distribute income better and make an Educational Revolution.

Mexico City: You have said that the educated, well-off and intellectuals support you. How will you attract the vote of the poor, uneducated and apathetic?

Vicente Fox: The concept is actually different. The polls show that Labastida´s vote, which today would be 40%, is composed of the poor and the poorest. The least educated, the eldest. Our vote, which is also 40% today, is the young, the better educated, the better income. So this is the concept. Who are we going to govern for--for 40 million who had to dance with the ugliest, and who never had opportunities to grow? These are the ones we will govern for, in growth and better distribution. We will replace the PRI´s "capitalism", which has only produced poverty, exclusion and lack of development. We will move to an economy in agreement with the market, with all the Mexicans. A sort of Third Way, a Fox Way, with high priority, to both grow the pie and share it better.

Why do I want to be president? Because I want to get the PRI out of Los Pinos, because I love my country very much. It makes me sad to see how we are lagging behind , I love my kids, and leave them a Mexico they can be proud of. And I want for all the kids of Mexico a better country, so they can grow with dignity and opportunity.

Muchas gracias, Thank you very much to everybody for your interest.

I want to propose to the POST in this chat, and the 980 participants who submitted questions, to make a little poll so we can share it with Labastida. The question: Which of the two candidates do you consider should be the next president of Mexico?

washingtonpost.com: Unfortunately we've run out of time. Thanks so much to Vicente Fox for agreeing to do this discussion, and thanks to all the participants.

© Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company


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