Skip to main content
ad info

Middle East Asia-pacific Africa Europe Americas    world > americas world map
  Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  




Thousands dead in India; quake toll rapidly rising

Israelis, Palestinians make final push before Israeli election

Gates pledges $100 million for AIDS

Davos protesters face tear gas



Thousands dead in India; quake toll rapidly rising

Israelis, Palestinians make final push before Israeli election

Davos protesters face tear gas


4:30pm ET, 4/16










CNN Websites
Networks image

Mexico's Fox steps into presidential role

Fox is sworn in as president in Mexico City on Friday  

Opposition leader takes office in peaceful transition

In this story:

Quake rattles capital

Fox scores firsts

Administration represents change

Zedillo aides say 'house in order'


MEXICO CITY, Mexico -- Vicente Fox was sworn in Friday as president of Mexico, completing the end of 71 years of single-party rule in North America's third-largest country.

Fox, the 58-year-old leader of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), took the oath of office before a joint session of Congress. His inauguration was attended by 8,000 heads of state, officials and other dignitaries from around the world.

"This is a great day for me and for Mexicans," Fox said as he left his hotel Friday morning.

Fox's government was sworn in at a midnight ceremony 12 hours earlier.

Interior Secretary Santiago Creel, Fox's lead negotiator, held the ceremony marking the start of the historic administration that has promised to revamp the country by combating problems ranging from corruption to poverty.

Defense Secretary Gen. Ricardo Vega and the attorney general, military Gen. Rafael Macedo, also took office at midnight.

Most Mexicans took off from work to celebrate Fox's inauguration.

"I feel like new," Fox said Thursday night. "Filled with confidence, strength, serenity and the commitment to work for Mexico."

Quake rattles capital

A moderate earthquake rocked Mexico City several hours before the inauguration, and the Popocatepetl volcano that towers over the capital shot out a plume of ash.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injury from the 8:07 a.m. (0907 EST) earthquake, which was centered on the Pacific coast, roughly 220 miles (350 kilometers) west of the capital, where tall buildings swayed slightly.

CNN's Harris Whitbeck reports on the state of the government that Fox is inheriting

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)
Vicente Fox prepares for his inauguration

Fox scores firsts

When Fox takes office, he will score a number of firsts for a Mexican president.

Fox will be:

  • The first Mexican president since 1929 not to be a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

  • The first businessman with international experience to take the helm of the Latin American nation in decades, after a string of generals and bureaucrats from the PRI.

  • The first Mexican leader since the 1800s to take the presidential oath without a wife by his side. (Fox is divorced.)

The strapping 6-foot 6-inch (2-meter) rancher and former Coca-Cola de Mexico executive has promised Mexicans full democracy after decades of often autocratic single-party rule by the PRI.

Fox has said he envisions a Mexico where wealth is more evenly spread among its 97 million people, where police fight crime and do not head kidnapping rings, where peasants can go to university and where the 40 million poor have the right to expect a better life.

Administration represents change

Creel and Macedo represent the changing face of Mexico.

As a top military prosecutor, Macedo took a tough stance against the corruption which is widespread in the country. Creel, a former elections official, fought for the democratic changes that enabled Fox's party to topple years of rule by the PRI in July elections.

Creel will take over an interior secretariat stripped of its police and spy duties and given the task of negotiating between the executive and Congress.

Facing a Congress with no majority and a ruling party looking to make a comeback after losing the presidency, Creel will be instrumental in getting Fox's plans into law.

Zedillo aides say 'house in order'

Aides to outgoing President Ernesto Zedillo insist that they are leaving Fox a nation and institution that is in order.

"We have political stability in the country, there is governability in the country, the house is at peace and in order," said Diodoro Carrasco, the outgoing secretary of the interior.

But several unresolved issues will be part of Zedillo's legacy, the most pressing of which is: How deep are the consumers' pockets?

"We are completely aware that the buying power of our salary has been diminished in the last decades, so we have to recover that power of the salary in Mexico," said Carlos Flores, of the Fox transition team.

The outgoing secretary of finance says he is leaving the country's books in order. But, he said, the new government should do more to increase its resources -- not necessarily by raising taxes, but by doing a better job of collecting them.

"Public finances need to be strengthened so Mexico will depend less on oil exports, and tax collection should also be improved," said Secretary Jose Angel Gurria. "To do that, we need fiscal reform and discipline."

Also of concern: crime and public safety.

"It is the challenge of this new millennium, and a large effort must be made to consolidate the national security system that was built under this administration," said Carrasco.

And the armed conflict in the southern state of Chiapas, inherited by Zedillo, will be passed on to Fox.

Zapatista rebel commander Marcos broke months of silence on Thursday to criticize Zedillo, and said he would offer his take on the new government after it takes office.

Some political observers in Mexico interpret that as a tentative offer to at least listen to what Fox might have to say.

Fox's government has said that the solution to the Chiapas conflict is in dialogue, and that he is willing to listen.

As far as the other concerns, the new president says he needs time, greater public involvement, and patience.

CNN Mexico City Bureau Chief Harris Whitbeck and Reuters contributed to this report.

Fox inauguration to mark historic firsts for Mexico
December 1, 2000
Mexico's Fox has a U.S. agenda
November 29, 2000
Fox calls for freer flow of legal immigrants, investment between U.S. and Mexico
August 24, 2000
Fox heads to U.S. seeking new relationship with Washington
August 23, 2000

Presidency of the Republic of Mexico
Partido Accion Nacional

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Back to the top  © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.