Zedillo Ponce de León, Ernesto

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Zedillo Ponce de León, Ernesto

Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León (ĕrnĕs´tō zĕdē´yō pōn´sā ŧħā lāôn´), 1951–, Mexican politician, president of Mexico (1994–2000). Educated as an economist in Mexico and the United States and a member of the Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI) since 1971, he served as Mexico's minister of planning and the budget (1988–92) and education (1992–93) under President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. After the PRI's presidential candidate, Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta, was assassinated in 1994, Zedillo, who had never served in an elected office, was chosen to replace him and won the election. With the economy in recession—reeling from a peso devaluation, rising inflation, and soaring interest rates—Zedillo continued Salinas's free-market economic policies, which ultimately resulted in sustained economic growth. Regarded as hardworking and honest (despite charges of corruption that surfaced in 1996), Zedillo sponsored reforms to share governmental power with the congress, the judiciary, and the states in a country with a long tradition of placing absolute control in the hands of the president. He also worked for closer cooperation with the United States. A 1996 agreement to reduce PRI control over the political process led to elections in 1997 in which the party lost control of the lower house of congress for the first time and, ultimately, the loss of the presidency in 2000. Zedillo was less successful in his efforts to reduce crime, and his administration was plagued by a number of scandals. He became head of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization in 2002.

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