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Matt Potter 6 a.m., Sept. 28
The current president of Mexico is Felipe Calderón Hinojosa. In Mexico, presidents serve for one six-year term. The last year of the sexenio is known as the Year of Hidalgo, which will end on December 1, 2012 for President Calderón. Felipe Calderón's immediate predecessor was Vicente Fox Quesada.
Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesada was unique among former Mexican presidents. He remained in the public eye and even wrote a book about his presidency after he left office. It is a very interesting, and eye-opening, look into some of the inner workings of Mexican politics. Unfortunately, as far as I know, Fox's book was never translated into English. The following is my translation of a few paragraphs from Fox's book, La Revolución de la Esperanza (The Revolution of Hope).
Rancho San Cristobal - December 4, 2006
In Latin America, presidents tend not to retire to their ranch to write their memoirs. For the most part, they leave the county to avoid extradition. More than one has lived under house arrest.
The former heads of Mexico did not build presidential libraries, nor undertake crusades against hunger nor led the United Nations. In general, they took the first plane to Europe and handed over power to a self-appointed successor. The traditional cycle of our six-year presidential term, the ‘sexenio’, worked like this: a president spent his first five years plunging the nation into debt. In his sixth year, known as the "Year of Hidalgo," he cut the flow of money into the economy and spent hundreds of millions of pesos of Mexican petroleum revenues on the campaign of his successor. Then, the outgoing president delivered the presidential sash at the inauguration and hastily fled the country before the economic crisis started. Writing memoirs would have been a bad idea: they could have been used as evidence.
The former presidents of Mexico typically exile themselves in Ireland, withdrawing money against their Swiss bank accounts and hide from the world in walled suburban estates. The official presidential residence of Los Pinos was the place to which one could not return: if a former Mexican head of state went to a taco stand in his hometown, the people booed him. We managed to see that our leaders spent their last year in the presidential palace systematically looting the building, taking with it the furniture, pictures, antiques, even the doorknobs and some ornaments. The reader can imagine the president and his imperial band gliding surreptitiously down the golden staircase railings, with an antique copper clock in one hand and a Flemish tapestry rolled under his arm, as if he were the hotel guest leaving without paying the bill and stealing shampoo bottles.
The last year in office of a Mexican president has been called the "Year of Hidalgo" in honor of Miguel Hidalgo, the great priest who fought for Mexican independence. But a century and a half of authoritarian rule became a cruel joke in the president’s sixth year: In the year of Hidalgo, screw the motherf-cker who leaves anything behind!