When Vicente Fox was elected president of Mexico in 2000, the streets of Tijuana erupted in celebratory screams and shouts to mark the end of more than seventy years of rule under the Institutional Revolutionary Party.
During his six-year term, Fox returned regularly to Tijuana and Baja California, a state that has historically been a stronghold of his National Action Party. As a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune, I caught up with him at the San Ysidro border where he announced a program to ensure a safe passage for Mexican-Americans heading south for the Christmas holidays. Another time, during a visit to a poor colonia, I trotted up to him to ask a question but he brushed me off. With all the bodyguards, convoys and the media mash of microphones and cameras, there were plenty of barriers between the president and me.
This week, I had my chance to chat with the ex-president in Los Angeles during breakfast with a small group of USC (University of Southern California) deans and faculty. The meeting was held to discuss potential collaborations with Fox’s latest project, Centro Fox, a research and cultural center in his home state of Guanajuato. Afterwards, Fox mentioned to me his concern about Tijuana. We chatted a bit about his recent visit to Baja’s wine country, Valle de Guadalupe, and about his friendship with ex-Baja Governor Eugenio Elorduy.
He’s not the only high-ranking official I’ve run into again up here. Just last week, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, who also once held a press conference at the San Ysidro border, visited the university. In a funny sort of come-full-circle of my past and present, I ended up writing short stories as a media rep about both recent events:
Photo of Fox identified by Wikimedia Commons as available for public use