President Ernesto Zedillo
Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, was credited with reforming Mexico's public education, corporate debt and budget, and bringing economic development into his financially depressed nation. Dr. Ernesto Zedillo, 47 years old, was sworn into office on December 1, 1994. A graduate of Mexico's public school system, Mr. Zedillo enrolled at age 18 at the Advanced School of Economics of the Instituto Politécnico Nacional, where he received his bachelor's degree in economics in 1972. Mr. Zedillo earned Master's and Ph.D. degrees in economics from Yale University, where he studied the issue of public indebtedness in Mexico and its link to future growth of petroleum exports. In March 1994, Mr. Zedillo was named the PRI candidate for Mexico's presidency. On August 21, 1994, he was elected President of Mexico as an unprecedented 78% of registered voters participated in the election. Mr. Zedillo married Mrs. Nilda Patricia Velasco. They had five children: Ernesto, Emiliano, Carlos, Nilda Patricia and Rodrigo.
In 1978, after teaching at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional and El Colegio de México, Mr. Zedillo became involved in economic research and analysis at the Banco de México. He became widely recognized as one of the main proponents of economic modernization policies. While working at the Banco de México, Mr. Zedillo established the Exchange Risk Coverage Trust Fund (FICORCA), the agency that made it possible to restructure the debt of many Mexican companies in the early 1980s. This action assured the companies' financial recovery and preserved the jobs of thousands of Mexican workers.
From 1988 to 1992, Mr. Zedillo served as Secretary of Programming and Budget. In this post, he formulated the National Development Plan and prepared the federal expenditure budgets for fiscal years 1989 to 1992. Mr. Zedillo became Secretary of Public Education in 1992. As head of this Department, he began a thorough reform of pre-school, primary, and secondary education in Mexico. He initiated the decentralization of the nation's educational system and developed special education programs for Mexico's less-developed areas.
Political uncertainty increased during 1994. In March Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta, the PRI presidential candidate, was assassinated while campaigning in Tijuana. Several investigations failed to produce a motive or the existence of a conspiracy. Rumors circulated, however, that the assassination was drug-related or the action of old-line PRI members opposed to political reform. Anxious to divorce itself from a reputation of fraud, the PRI quickly nominated reform-minded Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León as its presidential candidate. Zedillo had been Salinas's secretary of budget and secretary of education and was widely perceived as someone who would continue Salinas's policies.
The election results of August 21, 1994, contained no surprises. The PRI candidate, Zedillo, won the presidency with 49 percent of the vote. The PAN took 26 percent of the total, the major candidate on the left garnered 16 percent, and six minor parties accounted for the rest. Despite some irregularities, international observers declared that the election was generally honest, and Zedillo was inaugurated on December 1, 1994.
President Ernesto Zedillo's first three years in office were marked by great challenges and remarkable results. Mexico has entered a new era as the President's vision for the nation is realized: the consolidation of a flourishing democracy based upon citizen participation and a multi-party political system; a growing, modern economy that generates jobs and offers opportunities for all Mexicans; a society where laws are observed by, and applied to everyone alike; and a nation that is respected in the global community.
Throughout his term, President Zedillo proved successful in realizing his goals for the nation. On July 6, 1997 citizens across the nation endorsed the political reform promoted by the President and agreed to by the major political parties, by participating in orderly, peaceful and transparent elections. The undisputed results produced a plural Congress in which no party has an absolute majority. The President's economic program, by all measures, succeeded as the nation's recovery continued to show strong momentum in 1997. The architect of a sound economic program based upon market-oriented policies, President Zedillo has ensured that the economic gains are consolidated and that growth is sustained so all Mexicans can share in and benefit from the country's progress.
During his inaugural address in December 1994, President Zedillo outlined his goal for deepening democracy in Mexico. Three years later, in the first national election since he proposed amending the nation's Constitution and electoral laws, the political reform proved its effectiveness, ushering in a new era of democracy in Mexico. These reforms, which were backed by all political parties represented in the Congress, laid the groundwork for the orderly, peaceful, and transparent mid-term elections held on July 6, 1997. The elections provided important victories for all parties and proved that Mexico successfully moved another step forward in deepening its democracy. The reforms granted complete autonomy to the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), the authority responsible for conducting the elections, and established a new legal framework that guarantees fair competition and adherence to the strictest electoral norms.
Mexico's Government implemented judicial reforms and initiated several programs to strengthen the Rule of Law. Given the fact that drugs are one of the most serious threats to national security and to public health, a comprehensive strategy has been put into effect to combat drug trafficking and related criminal activities.
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