End of an Affair?

A tale of Mexican-American romance and disappointment, with proposals preferred to save a friendship.

Issue: Winter 2002-2003

They seemed made for each other. Taking office side by side as "compassionate conservatives", George W. Bush and Vicente Fox were united by more than a hankering for cowboy boots and ranching. President Bush was eager to demonstrate his familiarity with at least one foreign country and to utter entire phrases in Spanish. Intimacy with Vicente Fox also promised Latino votes, a blooming constituency (and possibly a decisive one in the 2004 election). Besides, "San Vicente" was the first feel-good story of the new millennium, conquering the 71-year crusty authoritarian rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and sweeping into office on a wave of reform sentiment. For Fox, Bush held countless charms, none more shimmering than the hope of an immigration accord that could relieve pressure on the economy, charm Mexico's human rights and nationalist constituencies, and endear Fox to migrants who are influential with voters back home.

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