MEXICO CITY - Mercedes Quesada de Fox, the mother of Mexican President Vicente Fox, died Thursday, three days before elections to replace her son, the president's office said. She was 86.
Quesada died at the family's ranch in the central state of Guanajuato, according to an official news release. Details of the cause were not released.
Fox, who is barred from running for a second consecutive term under Mexican law, headed to Guanajuato late Thursday to be with the family, Mexican media reported.
A devout Roman Catholic, Quesada was said to attend church almost every day and never miss a Sunday Mass. She had long been the glue that held the Fox family together from its home base in the village of San Cristobal.
Quesada was born in Spain and came to Mexico as a child. Mexico's constitution previously had barred Fox from the presidency because of his mother's roots. The law was changed in 1993 but didn't take effect immediately, ruling out Fox as a contender in the 1994 presidential election.
Fox, a divorcee, married Marta Sahagun in 2001. Sahagun had three children from a previous marriage and critics later suggested her sons got preferential treatment in government-funded projects. Sahagun denied the accusations as well as a published report that Quesada had upbraided her over the scandal.
Mexico holds presidential elections on Sunday. Former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, and Felipe Calderon, a former energy secretary from Fox's conservative National Action Party, are running neck-and-neck in the race.
Roberto Madrazo, the candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years until its stunning loss to Fox six years ago, is in third place.
All three candidates sent letters of condolence to Fox late Thursday.