Mexico’s Former President Launches More Xenophobic and AntiSemitic Attacks On Election Candidates

This is the second time that Vicente Fox has attacked candidates in Mexico's upcoming presidential election.

Mexico’s former President Vicente Fox can’t seem to stop himself. Just weeks after apologizing for posting a xenophobic and anti-semitic meme on Twitter, he attacked the country’s leading presidential candidate again on Monday for being “Jewish and a foreigner at the same time.”

This time, he refused to delete the inflammatory tweet. Instead, he followed up with yet another, insisting in all caps that he isn’t xenophobic but rather wants to make sure presidential candidates “fulfill the Constitutional requirements to be president of this great country.” 


The suggestion that former Mexico City mayor and presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum wasn’t born in Mexico, and therefore can’t be president, is baseless. And many in Mexico see Fox’s comments as little more than the musings of an aging statesman known for his outlandish commentary. Fox served as president from 2000 to 2006 for the right-wing PAN party.

“What Vicente Fox says is completely irrelevant in the Mexican political debate,” said Carlos Pérez, a professor at Mexico’s CIDE university. “He’s seen as an old guy who just talks about whatever he wants.”

Still, Fox’s attacks have highlighted a belief shared by many Mexicans that Jews are rich outsiders who stick to themselves. They have also fueled unfounded claims that Sheinbaum—who rarely talks about her Jewish heritage—was born outside Mexico. In response, she has shared her birth certificate on Twitter. 

“It’s a very old anti-Semitic idea that the Jewish people are not nationals, anywhere. In the Nazi era, Jewish people were stripped of their citizenship,” said Jacobo Dayán, director of Tlatelolco University Cultural Center in Mexico City. 

There are an estimated 40,000 Jews living in Mexico, which has a population of around 129 million. The vast majority of Mexicans are Catholics. 


On Tuesday, Sheinbaum shunned Fox’s comments on a Facebook Live forum. She said he and his supporters “are against anyone that’s not like them. That’s called discrimination. That’s called xenophobia,” she said. “They are insidious, always looking for a way to discredit us.”

She said her paternal grandparents emigrated from Lithuania for economic reasons and that her maternal grandparents fled Bulgaria because of persecution. She was born in Mexico City to Jewish parents and raised atheist. 

A campaign event in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca where Indigenous people placed a rosary around Sheinbaum’s neck sparked Fox’s latest round of attacks. He retweeted a picture of her with the rosary along with another user’s comment: “This woman is so fake, isn’t she supposed to be Jewish?!?! If she is misleading about her religion and principles, she will be misleading about everything.”

Fox has made no shortage of inflammatory remarks in recent years. He once tweeted a photo of former President Donald Trump with a Nazi swastika superimposed on his forehead along with the words “American Nazi.” 

And the meme he circulated on Twitter in late July—for which he later apologized—also took aim at aspirational presidential candidate and former foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard, who has European roots. “Sheinbaum is a Bulgarian Jew. Marcelo is a French fifi,” the meme declared, using the slang word for upper-class.

The only candidate to receive Fox’s endorsement is Xóchitl Gálvez—who hails from an Indigenous background—and she too has criticized him. “All of us born here, no matter where our forebears were from, are Mexican,” she tweeted.