|Birth Day:||December 27, 1951|
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After earning a degree in economics from Mexico's National Polytechnic Institute, he received a PhD in the same field from Yale University. He subsequently began a career with the Bank of Mexico.
Ernesto Zedillo was born on 27 December 1951 in Mexico City. His parents were Rodolfo Zedillo Castillo, a mechanic, and Martha Alicia Ponce de León. Seeking better job and education opportunities for their children, his parents moved to Mexicali, Baja California.
In 1965, at the age of 14, he returned to Mexico City. In 1969 he entered the National Polytechnic Institute, financing his studies by working in the National Army and Navy Bank (later known as Banjército). He graduated as an economist in 1972 and began lecturing. It was among his first group of students that he met his wife, Nilda Patricia Velasco, with whom he has five children: Ernesto, Emiliano, Carlos (formerly married to conductor Alondra de la Parra), Nilda Patricia and Rodrigo.
In 1974, he pursued his master's and PhD studies at Yale University. His doctoral thesis was titled Mexico's Public External Debt: Recent History and Future Growth Related to Oil.
Zedillo began working in the Bank of Mexico (Mexico's central bank) as a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, where he supported the adoption of macroeconomic policies for the country's improvement. By 1987, he was named deputy-secretary of Planning and Budget Control in the Secretariat of Budget and Planning. In 1988, at the age of 36, he headed that secretariat. During his term as Secretary, Zedillo launched a Science and Technology reform.
Salinas had gained support of the Roman Catholic Church in the 1988 elections and had pushed through a series of constitutional changes that significantly changed church-state relations. However, on 11 February 1995, Zedillo ignited a crisis with the Roman Catholic Church, hurting, recently restored Mexico–Holy See diplomatic relations. Relations had already been damaged because of the 24 May 1993 political assassination of the Guadalajara Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo and lack of government progress on solving the murder by the Attorney General of Mexico. PGR pressured the bishop of Chiapas, Samuel Ruiz García for supposedly concealing the Zapatistas guerrilla activity. Ruiz's involvement had been strategic and an important instrument to keep the peace after the EZLN uprising.
In 1992, he was appointed Secretary of Education by president Carlos Salinas. During his tenure in this post, he was in charge of the revision the Mexican public school textbooks. The changes, which took a softer line on foreign investment and the Porfiriato, among other topics, were highly controversial and the textbooks were withdrawn. A year later he resigned to run the electoral campaign of Luis Donaldo Colosio, the PRI's presidential candidate.
In 1994, after Colosio's assassination, Zedillo became one of the few PRI members eligible under Mexican law to take his place, since he had not occupied public office for some time.
At age 43, Zedillo assumed the presidency on 1 December 1994 at the Legislative Palace of San Lázaro, taking oath before the Congress of the Union presided by the deputy president Carlota Vargas Garza. Zedillo's electoral victory was perceived as clean, but he came to office as an accidental candidate with no political base of his own and no experience. During the first part of his presidency, he took inconsistent policy positions and there were rumors that he would resign or that there would be a coup d'état against him, which caused turmoil in financial markets.
Zedillo had been an accidental presidential candidate who was vaulted to prominence with the assassination of Colosio. The conflict between Zedillo and Salinas marked the early part of Zedillo's presidency. As with De la Madrid and Salinas, Zedillo had never been elected to office and had no experience in politics. His performance as a candidate was lackluster, but the outbreak of violence in Chiapas and the shock of the Colosio assassination swayed voters to support the PRI candidate in the 1994 election. In office, Zedillo was perceived as a puppet-president with Salinas following the model of Plutarco Elías Calles in the wake of the 1928 assassination of president-elect Alvaro Obregón. In order to consolidate his own power in the presidency, Zedillo had to assert his independence from Salinas. On 28 February 1995 Zedillo ordered the arrest of the ex-president's older brother Raúl Salinas for the September 1994 murder of PRI General Secretary José Francisco Ruiz Massieu. This action marked a decisive break between Zedillo and Salinas.
Mexico had been in turmoil since January 1994, with the initial Zapatista rebellion and two political assassinations. The presidential candidate Colosio of the PRI was assassinated in March 1994, and his campaign manager Ernesto Zedillo then became the candidate a few days later. The other high-profile assassination, that of PRI Secretary General José Francisco Ruiz Massieu, brother-in-law of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari in September 1994, laid bare political rivalries within the PRI. In order to give credibility to the investigations of those political crimes and grant "a healthy distance", president Zedillo appointed Antonio Lozano Gracia a member of the opposition Political Party PAN as Attorney General of Mexico. Zedillo inherited the rebellion in Chiapas, but it was up to his administration to handle it.
Carlos Salinas had negotiated Mexico's place in NAFTA, which took effect in January 1994, so Zedillo was the first president to oversee it for his entire term. The Mexican economy suffered following the December 1994 peso crisis, when currency was devalued by 15% and the U.S. intervened to prop up the economy with a multi-billion dollar loan, so that NAFTA under the Zedillo administration got off to a rocky start. The Mexican GDP was -7% and there were hopes that NAFTA would lift that miserable performance statistic.
On 5 January 1995, the Secretary of Interior Esteban Moctezuma started a secret meeting process with Marcos called "Steps Toward Peace" Chiapas. Talks seemed promising for an agreement, but Zedillo backed away, apparently because the military was not in accord with the government's apparent "acceptance of the Zapatistas' control over much of Chiapas territory." In February 1995, the Mexican government identified the masked Subcomandante Marcos as Rafael Sebastián Guillén, a former professor at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City. Metaphorically unmasking Marcos and identifying him as a non-indigenous urban intellectual turned-terrorist of was the government's attempt to demystify and delegitimize the Zapatistas in public opinion. The army was prepared to move against Zapatista strongholds and capture Marcos. The government decided to reopen negotiations with the Zapatistas. On 10 March 1995 President Zedillo and Secretary of the Interior Moctezuma signed the Presidential Decree for the Dialog, the Reconciliation and a peace with dignity in Chiapas law, which was discussed and approved by the Mexican Congress. In April 1995, the government and the Zapatistas began secret talks to find an end to the conflict. In February 1996, the San Andrés Accords were signed by the government and the Zapatistas. In May 1996, Zapatistas imprisoned for terrorism were released. In December 1997, indigenous peasants were murdered in an incident known as the Acteal massacre. Survivors of the massacre sued Zedillo in U.S., but the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the suit on the basis of his immunity as a head of state.
Zedillo saw electoral reform as a key issue for his administration. In January 1995, Zedillo initiated multiparty talks about electoral reform, which resulted in an agreement on how to frame political reform. In July 1996, those talks resulted in the agreement of Mexico's four major parties on a reform package, which was ratified unanimously in legislature. It created autonomous organizations to oversee elections, made the post of Head of Government of Mexico City, previously an appointed position, into an elective one, as of July 1997, and created closer oversight of campaign spending. "Perhaps most crucially, it represents a first step toward consensus among the parties on a set of mutually accepted democratic rules of the game." The reforms lowered the influence of the PRI and opened opportunities for other parties. In the 1997 elections, for the first time the PRI did not win the majority in Congress. Zedillo was also a strong advocate of federalism as a counterbalance to a centralized system.
In the run-up to implementation of NAFTA, Salinas had privatized hundreds of companies. During the Zedillo administration, he privatized the state railway company, Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México. This led to the suspension of passenger service in 1997.
Zedillo's presidential motto was Bienestar para tu familia ("Well-being for your family"). He created the poverty alleviation program Progresa, which subsidized the poorest families in Mexico, provided that their children went to school. It replaced the Salinas administration's PRONASOL, deemed too politicized. It was later renamed Oportunidades (Opportunities) by president Vicente Fox. The parastatal organization CONASUPO, which was designed to supply food and provide food security to the poor was phased out in 1999, resulting in higher food prices.
He successfully concluded negotiations with the European Union for a Free Trade Agreement, which entered into force in July 2000
According to a 2012 Economist article, a group of ten anonymous Tzotzil people claiming to be survivors of the Acteal massacre have taken an opportunity to sue former President Zedillo in a civil court in Connecticut, "seeking about $50 million and a declaration of guilt against Mr Zedillo." The victims of the massacre were members of an indigenous-rights group known as Las Abejas; however, the current president of that organization, Porfirio Arias, claims that the alleged victims were in fact not residents of Acteal at all. This has led commentators to allege the trial to be politically motivated, perhaps by a member of his own political party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, angry about Zedillo's reforms that led to the party losing power in the 2000 Mexican presidential election, after 71 years of continuous political rule.
Since leaving office, Zedillo has held many jobs as an economic consultant in many international companies and organizations. He currently is on the faculty at Yale University, where he teaches economics and heads the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. In 2008, a conference on global climate change was convened at Yale, resulting in a published volume edited by Zedillo.
In 2009, Zedillo headed an external review of the World Bank Group's governance. Since 2020, he has been serving as a member of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR), an independent group examining how the WHO and countries handled the COVID-19 pandemic, co-chaired by Helen Clark and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
In a national survey conducted in 2012 by BGC-Excélsior regarding former Presidents, 39% of the respondents considered that the Zedillo administration was "very good" or "good", 27% responded that it was an "average" administration, and 31% responded that it was a "very bad" or "bad" administration.
In 2014, the US Supreme Court refused to hear a case against Zedillo on grounds of "sovereign immunity" as a former head of state by survivors of the Acteal massacre.
In 2016, Zedillo co-signed a letter calling for an end to the War on Drugs, along with people like Mary J. Blige, Jesse Jackson and George Soros.
Currently, Ernesto Zedillo is 69 years, 5 months and 26 days old. Ernesto Zedillo will celebrate 70th birthday on a Monday 27th of December 2021.
Find out about Ernesto Zedillo birthday activities in timeline view here.