Sep 272006
Authors: Kevin Johnson

President Ernesto Zedillo’s visit tonight is expected to spark protests from local activists, Fort Collins community members, students and even at least one professor.

The activists are set to hold a demonstration outside of Moby Arena to criticize the former Mexican president’s policies on government and global economics.

“Ernesto Zedillo is a U.S.-trained techno-crat, and a functionary of the ruling party establishment in Mexico,” said Norberto Valdez, a CSU anthropology professor, in an e-mail.

“We are not expressing opposition to Zedillo’s visit to CSU. This is a man with a lot of experience and knowledge that should be shared. But we are interested in his telling the whole story of his administration’s policies and his views on globalization and free trade.”

Zedillo is scheduled to speak at 7:30 p.m. in Moby Arena tonight.

“Ernesto Zedillo was selected because of his renowned expertise in globalization and emerging markets,” said Jennifer Dimas, a CSU spokeswoman. “Globalization and the global economy are focuses of the university.”

Born in Mexico City, Zedillo attended Mexican public schools, graduated from the School of Economics at the National Polytechnic Institute and earned a doctorate in economics from Yale.

After holding several positions at the Central Bank of Mexico, serving as Secretary of the Budget and Economic Planning and Secretary of Education, he was elected president of Mexico in 1994.

While president of Mexico, Zedillo worked to pave the way for a fresh, democratic climate while attacking the roots of political corruption, according to a statement released by CSU.

In addition to ruling over a period of economic growth in many sectors, Zedillo also oversaw a period of growing political upheaval, peasant rebellion and state violence.

Zedillo’s term began the same year that the NAFTA free-trade agreement with the United States and Canada officially took effect.

The Mayan Indians of Chiapas state in southern Mexico immediately rebelled against what they called a “death sentence” to their way of life, as the government would now privatize the communal lands that belonged to the indigenous people.

The Zapatista uprising, which is ongoing today, began the same day as Zedillo’s presidency. The end of his term in 2000 also ended the one-party state that had dominated Mexico for most of the 20th century.

“I’m not sure why his mini-bio in the CSU campus e-Comment says that he contributed to the democratization and the well-being of Mexico and Mexicans,” Valdez wrote. “The growth of widespread poverty is the clearest indication of gross human rights violations of a country.”

Zedillo’s visit is being brought to CSU through the Monfort Fund, a donation of $5 million to CSU in 2002. The line-up of guest speakers who have spoken at the university through the fund includes Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf.

Staff writer Kevin Johnson can be reached at

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