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CNN Today

Mexican Election: Vicente Fox Prepares for New Challenge as President-Elect

Aired July 3, 2000 - 2:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: He is fond of his cowboy boots when he's working on his ranch, and is a former Coca-Cola boss. He's also at home in the executive suite. Now Vicente Fox is preparing for a new challenge as Mexico's president-elect. Fox pulled off what no other candidate could in modern Mexico: He beat the party that dominated Mexican politics for most of the 20th century.

CNN's Sean Callebs joins us from Mexico City where the confetti from the victory party has barely settled -- Sean.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, exactly. Clearly a very historic day here in Mexico. Fed up with a host of irregularities over the past several decades, including political scandal, political corruption and widespread cases of voter fraud, Mexico's voters said enough and voted in a fresh face as the president-elect, and at the same time voted out this country's long- time ruling political party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party.

For 57-year-old Vicente Fox, success and victory was sweet. He was carried to victory after campaigning for the better part of three years, chiefly by capturing the hearts and the ballots of this country's middle class, its educated and its urban. But at the same time, Fox also had to defeat a political machine that was firmly entrenched.

Now, last night, tens of thousands of Mexican voters poured into the streets reveling in Fox's victory. Mexico had never seen a candidate like Fox, towering 6'6" figure. He would campaign wearing denim and wearing cowboy boots, greeting voters. And Fox did what no other presidential candidate has been able to do: defeat the party known as PRI, and unseat them after 71 years of political dominance.

Fox, a former Coca-Cola executive, now is expected to begin work to create more jobs in this country, and also further stabilize Mexico's economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC ROJO, ELECTION OBSERVER: Everybody looks to more business to have a greater opportunity to do more things. And as the candidates said, they want to create more jobs in Mexico so less Mexicans will go to the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CALLEBS: Well, the challenge now: Fox's charisma and his campaigning brought him to this point, but now he is going to work with the other political parties and try and narrow the gap between Mexico's rich and Mexico's poor.

But it should be noted that his social and economic platforms were very similar to his rival party, PRI -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And, Sean, tell us about Fox's close ties to this country. And didn't he even campaign here?

CALLEBS: Indeed, he campaigned heavily in many of the border states, as well as Illinois, trying to convince the 1.5 Mexican- Americans living in the United States to come back across the border and vote for him, also encouraging Mexican-American citizens to call their relatives here in Mexico and get out to the polls as well.

Now, his mother is from the United States. As you mentioned, he does have strong ties here. He's a strong supporter of NAFTA and has worked to bring more industry, more high-tech jobs, more automotive factories to the northern part of the country. What's going to be difficult is somehow funneling all the work that seems to be going to the northern part of Mexico down into the poor, southern region. But that is going to be the challenge if Mexico is going to truly succeed politically, so the observers say. They must first narrow this gap between the country's extremely poor and rich. A quarter of the people in this country live in extreme poverty.

ALLEN: And as he said, he has a lot of work to do. Sean Callebs on the election in Mexico, thanks.

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