(vēsān'tā fōks kāsä'ðä), 1942–, Mexican political leader, president of Mexico (2000–6). Raised on a ranch in rural central Mexico's Guanajuato state, he became a successful rancher and business executive. He joined Coca Cola in 1964 and rose to become the company's head in Mexico and the Caribbean. A charismatic right-of-center populist, Fox joined the conservative, pro-Catholic National Action party (PAN) when he entered politics in 1988 as an unsuccessful candidate for congress.
In 1995 he was elected governor of his native state, serving in that office until 1999 and earning a reputation as a promoter of small businesses, increased exports to the United States, and improved schools. Actively campaigning for president, he drew supporters from various parts of the political and cultural spectrum with his probusiness and antipoverty platform and his colorful personal style. His election (2000) as Mexico's president ended 71 years of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which had long been criticized for governmental inaction and institutional corruption.
Even before assuming office, Fox announced an ambitious campaign to reduce government corruption and rebuild Mexico's federal law enforcement system, as well as other reforms, and also proposed an agreement with the United States on a less restrictive immigration policy. In office, he brought to the presidency an informality it had not previously seen, made a number of antidrug and anticorruption moves, and brought Mexico to a new height of international prominence. His relations with the opposition-controlled congress, however, were difficult, and much of the legislation he proposed was not passed, including tax reforms and measures to encourage investment. The possible future presidential ambitions of his wife were a distraction in 2004, but in July of that year, after one of Fox's aides resigned and accused her of meddling in the government, she disavowed any intention of running for the office.